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Friday, December 10th, 2021
Volume 30 Issue 11

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In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

   Don’t Miss Baltic Rose!

Our New Catalog is Just About Ready to Mail! 

Like most businesses in America we have been short-handed but we’re doing our very best to keep up with orders at the same time we grade out our big, beautiful 2021 crop of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes. Thanks so much to everyone for your patience and understanding!

Our brand new catalog features the exceptional new golden-flesh potato from Germany named Baltic Rose It’s both a delicious variety in the kitchen and well-suited to organic growing in the garden. This variety is in high demand so please please order early before we sell out! Baltic Rose has now been added to our website where you may order either Baltic Rose Certified Seed Potatoes or Baltic Rose Kitchen Potatoes. As always, you may place your Organic Seed Potato order now and we will be happy to store your order here on our farm until you need it for Spring planting, just ask! Also, Baltic Rose is one of the varieties in our December Potato Sampler-of-the-Month and there’s still time to order should you like to taste it or give it as a gift.

By planning and ordering ahead we dodged the paper shortage plaguing the printing industry. If the good ole Post Office comes through our new catalog should be in your mailbox around Christmastime.

Stay warm, stay well and all the best in the New Year ahead!

Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine

Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Bees & Beneficials Are Blessed By Planting ‘Beneficial Flowers.’ This past year we ran extensive trials in our main organic potato field and planted 40 different flowers and plants which had earned reputations for attracting and providing nourishment to Bees, non-Bee pollinators and other Beneficial insects which are valuable predators of insects harmful to food crops including potatoes.  Guided by experience gained from our field trials we’ve added an Organic Beneficial Flower Seed section to the new catalog.   

   These Beneficial Flowers gracefully do double duty providing both beauty to the eye and sustenance for our hardworking insect friends – Ladybugs, Lacewings and more.   Our new Flower listings include spectacular Sunflowers like the one pictured above, plus Organic Evening Sun Sunflower, Organic California Orange Poppy, Organic Pinwheel Marigold, Organic Seashells Cosmos, Organic Best Find Phacelia, Organic Goldilocks Redbeckia, Organic Colorful Blend Nasturtiums and Organic County Fair Blend Zinneas.  More Organic Flower varieties will be added to the website as soon they are cleaned and available.

The Pendulum Swings:  A Comparison of the Last Two Growing Seasons in Northern Maine.
Irrespective of how hard we work or how we implement our philosophies of how to grow, farmers have learned that sunshine and water to a large extent determine the size and quality of our crops.

In many spots in Northern Maine crop year 2020 was the driest year ever recorded going back to 1939. Yields suffered. This year, though we flirted with drought for most of the growing season Maine had sufficient rain - and then some in September - and grew one of the biggest potato crops ever. This chart tells the tale of the two seasons by inches of rain per month. It takes 14-18" of water to grow a crop of potatoes, about 1" per week.

2020 2021
3.99" 3.38”
1.16" 2.06"
2.19" 4.39"
1.9" 2.77"
0.38" 9.97"
9.64" 22.57"

 By October, rain ceases to benefit a Maine potato crop - and when rain is excessive it gets in the way of digging out a crop of potatoes. Last year's 6.52" October rain got in the way; this year's 2.14" was a gift. The photo was taken one cool morning in late October while chisel-plowing under a Rapeseed cover crop. The crop next door is dew-covered fledgling Organic Winter Rye protecting the soil that had surrendered it's potato crop earlier in the month.

Putting Up Roof Trusses on Wood Prairie Family Farm.   The nearly 10” of rain in September made it one of the all-time wettest months on record for Northern Maine.   However, beginning in October the pendulum swung yet again and we’ve had as mild and dry a Fall as anyone can remember.  This has been a great blessing for our behind schedule building project.
In this shot taken at the end of October, Lonnie Little maneuvers his telescoping Terex crane to masterfully position into place one of the 72' long bottom truss sections to our new ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) expanded packing shed and office.  The building addition is about 65’ x 65’ and the concrete walls rise 16’ above grade.  

We had designed-in a usable 9' x 20' "attic" area providing 1300 square feet of potential future office or living space. The bottom horizontal chords on these trusses are 2"x12". This design creates a 64-foot clear span inside work area. To make it practical to haul the trusses down from where they were built by the Amish thirty miles away in Fort Fairfield, they were designed as 2-piece sections. The following week, the topmost 30' long triangular trusses were hauled down separately and again crane-lifted on top and secured into position.

The roof pitch is 7/12.  The peak of the finished truss stands 21-vertical feet above the bottom chord. The trusses have been engineered for snowload of 100 psf and for 115mph wind speeds.

Metal Roof Completed on New Wood Prairie Packing Shed-Office Expansion.   In this photograph taken before Thanksgiving, the crew begins to install Standing Seam Metal roofing.   Planning ahead, Caleb parked his step-deck 48-foot trailer in the shop yard on Maple Grove Road in Fort Fairfield. There the Amish crew at Abe Miller's Metal Roofing Company began unrolling and cutting to length the 40-foot pieces. The cut pieces were then run through a bending machine which formed the Standing Seam Roofing (SSR) panels which each offer 15" width coverage. The crew efficiently stacked the roof panels directly onto the trailer in layers carefully protected by packing fabric. A day later the bending metal roof job was completed and Caleb retrieved the full trailer with his good-deal Ford 9000 road tractor.  

Four men are working on the roof and two more on the ground. The brown-colored roofing is cold and getting covered over by snow. In a brilliant design, one SSR panel snaps in and under the previous roof section, hiding the screws which secure that previous panel to the 2x4 strapping. After the roof was complete all screws were hidden by the metal roofing and no screws were visible. Screws are hidden from the weather and thereby free from frost action and leakage.  An excellent, permanent design providing a very long lasting metal roof.

This Week’s Latest Building Progress:  Framing in the Expanded Office.
Our new office is 16' x 48'.  It’s now been framed in, sheetrock has been attached to Amish-made ceiling trusses.  Windows and doors have been installed, and Rockwall wall insulation is in place.  Halle, our Great Pyrenees guard dog, keeps track of all activity and patrols inside the new building sniffing out fresh scents.
The red bales are Rock Wool insulation, the next generation step-up from itchy fiberglass. Compared to fiberglass insulation, Rock Wool is denser - so offers 30% more R-Value and much more sound deadening - and is both fire and water resistant.  It's also made from 70% recycled materials. You may add Rock Wool to your list of supply chain headaches which demand patience and planning.  Yes, Rock Wool is more expensive - at the outset. However, breaking the bank with superior insulation is a long term investment. Much like a farmer building up soil, the goal is long term good which over the long haul offers the greatest societal, environmental and economic returns.   Anyway, that's how organic farmers approach such concerns.



Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 Certified Organic, From Farm to Mailbox