Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
              Saturday, March 30th, 2019
                 Volume 28 Issue 05


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  Long Winter Waning.

     Amish Buggy and Winter Scene in Aroostook County, Maine near Easton.
Another beautiful photo taken by talented local photographer Paul Cyr. 

     Here in Northern Maine, Winter is beginning to lose its grip.  With the sun higher in the sky, the days recover even after cold nights.  Last week we had three consecutive mornings where the temperatures hovered around zero.  This week has been warmer.  With some days getting above freezing the maple sap has begun to run, right on schedule.

     On good days melting gets underway. A month from now much of our fields should be mostly free of snow.  However, it’s a rare April that we don’t see additional snowfall.  Most years we can start farming in May ten days after the last snow leaves a field.

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

Winners of $80 Million Monsanto Award. Mr. Hardeman, his wife and attorney team.

Maine Tales.  Monsanto Enlightens The World.    Bethesda, Maryland.     Circa 1996.

Today happens to be the 8th Anniversary of our Court filing of OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit.  So, when this week’s news broadcast yet more trouble for bedeviled Monsanto, it was hard not to think back to that USDA conference in 1996.
Since the 1980s we’d heard the many terrible tales, but face-to-face contact with Monsanto first occurred at the USDA National Forum on Insect Resistance to Bacillus thiringiensis (Bt) in Bethesda. The experience was an eye-opener for Jim.  He offered his report on the event in an early issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece. 

What now is most memorable twenty-three years later was Monsanto’s over-the-top arrogance and hubris.  Of course, now as then, Monsanto represents a sobering cataclysmic threat to agriculture and to organic farmers.

The largest group attending the USDA Forum were scientists, many score in number, including the leading university entomologists (insect experts) across the United States and Canada.  Jim remembers clearly one breakout session where fast-talking Monsanto marketing personnel with MBAs were lecturing everyone else – including a large contingent of entomologists.  They were asserting that it was “impossible” for insects to develop resistance to Monsanto’s gene-spliced crops, such as genetically engineered (GE) “New Leaf” potatoes (in which every cell of the potato, including the edible tuber, contained the GE bacterial toxin), because clever Monsanto had cranked up the level of killer-toxins so high.   Well, the entomologists and many of the farmers in the room understood much better than the Monsanto salesmen about how resistance really worked. The truth is, resistance is inevitable.  To argue otherwise departs from science and crosses into fantasy, which would explain why so many eyes in the room were quietly rolling.

It might be well to mention here that when Monsanto brought their GE “New Leaf” potatoes to Maine in the mid-1990s, they were required to register those GE potatoes as “Pesticides” with the Maine Board of Pesticide Control.

In fact, Monsanto was so confident of their “New Leaf” potatoes that they felt singularly ordained to reclassify the entire potato kingdom.  In the new world according to Monsanto, beginning with the first year of commercialization of GE potatoes in 1995, there were now just two groupings of potatoes:  Monsanto’s “New Leaf” potatoes and everything else which Monsanto handily renamed “unimproved varieties.” 

What a shock it must have been when six years later the market forced Monsanto to withdraw their “New Leaf” potatoes from worldwide production.  With the disappearance of “New Leaf” potatoes, we lowly humans were just left with “unimproved” potatoes.  Final score:  Monsanto GE “New Leaf” potatoes, 6 years.  “Unimproved” potatoes, 8000 years.

At the time OSGATA et al v. Monsanto was filed in 2011, the reality is not many people outside of agriculture had even heard of Monsanto. 

OSGATA et al v. Monsanto pursued and achieved twin goals:  1) gain court protection for organic farmers contaminated by Monsanto’s patented-seed and perversely at-risk for claims of patent infringement, and 2) educate the public about Monsanto’s malevolent nature.  In due course, a judicial estoppel protecting innocent farmers was ordered by the Federal Court of Appeals.  As well, growing public understanding etched Monsanto in the American psyche as the bully of family farmers, earning the notorious ranking as the world’s most-hated-corporation.

Today is Independence Day for America. Today we are seeking protection from the Court and putting Monsanto on notice. Monsanto’s threats and abuse of family farmers stops here. Monsanto’s genetic contamination of organic seed and organic crops ends now. Americans have the right to choice in the marketplace – to decide what kind of food they will feed their families – and we are taking this action on their behalf to protect that right to choose. Organic farmers have the right to raise our organic crops for our families and our customers on our farms without the threat of invasion by Monsanto’s genetic contamination and without harassment by a reckless polluter. Beginning today, America asserts her right to justice and pure food.

Jim Gerritsen,  President
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA)
March 29, 2011

Fast forward to this week in 2019 and yet another monumental jury verdict against Monsanto.  Significant damages have been awarded to Mr. Hardeman in California.  Essentially, Monsanto has now become fully radioactive.  The fallout attributable to Monsanto greed and ill-will is summarized very nicely in this MUST WATCH video (3:59) from German Public Broadcasting which posted yesterday.
Now two independent juries have found Monsanto guilty and culpable for their deadly ‘Roundup’ herbicide.  These two court awards in the last eight months have found Monsanto liable each time for about $80 Million in damages.  Multiply that award amount by the jaw-dropping 11,200 lawsuits yet to be tried, and Monsanto’s potential liability is in the stratosphere hovering around $896 Billion, over 14x the purchase price of $63 Billion paid by foolish due-diligence-impaired Bayer.

By any measure, Monsanto and new owner Bayer are mired in deep, deep trouble of their own making.  Thanks to them, the concept of karma has gained new relevance.  Caleb, Megan & Jim

Click Here for our Wood Prairie Certified Organic Vegetable Seed.

Special Offer: FREE Organic King Harry Certified Seed Potatoes!

     Organic King Harry is a traditionally bred potato (NOT genetically engineered) from Cornell, the resulting of the crossing of a round-white-potato with a “hairy-leaved” close relative of the potato.  Organic King Harry has tiny hairs known as “glandular trichomes” which irritate and repel three major potato pests – Colorado Potato Beetles, Potato Leafhoppers and Flea Beetles.  The happy result is good resistance (but not immunity) to insect pests.

    Couple Organic King Harry’s bug repelling properties with its big healthy plants and strong yields of good tasting and great keeping tubers and you have a real winner potato you will want to plant in this year’s garden.

     Earn yourself a FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic King Harry Seed Potatoes (Value $11.95) when your next Wood Prairie order totals $49 or more. FREE Organic King Harry Certified Seed Potatoes Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday April 1.  Please use Promo Code WPFF446. Your order and FREE Sack of Organic King Harry Certified Seed Potatoes must ship no later than May 5, 2019. Offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please click TODAY!

Click Here for Our Wood Prairie Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

Organic King Harry. Traditionally-bred bug resistant potato from Cornell University..

Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Caleb Loading Pallets of Organic Seed Potatoes.     Here, Caleb uses our White Forklift to load pallets of potatoes onto a truck from local company Grass Trucking.  Carter Grass, who was a couple of years ahead of Caleb in high school, uses a pallet jack to move the pallets to the front of the truck.  Most tractor-trailers nowadays can fit twenty-two pallets of potatoes for a payload of 55,000 pounds.

Caleb’s Ford Ranger Climbed Up on Snow Bank.
  Caleb is a Ford man and has always liked compact Ford Ranger pickups.  A Ford Ranger was his first vehicle and he owns several at any one time.  He has found good Ranger deals for his sisters Sarah and Amy.  So, their first vehicles have also been Ford Rangers.  Caleb teaches the girls how to work on their trucks and helps them get their trucks up and running and inspected.  The Ranger is this photo is 4-wheel-drive and outfitted with monster tires.  Caleb and his friends take off for the Maine woods with their trucks and travel along old logging roads and skidder trails for fun.  The goal is to not get stuck and big tires help a lot…but not always.  That’s part of the fun if you’re young.

Wood Prairie Petunia with New Blue Halter.   Petunia is our yearling Lowline Angus x Irish Dexter, born here on the farm last July.  Lowline Angus are also compact but a lot beefier than Dexters.  Megan is heading her herd now more in a grass-fed beef direction.  With the animals spending some of their time in the barn in the Winter, it’s a good opportunity to “socialize” young stock and get them used to being led before they go out on pasture in May.

Evening Walk Along Kinney Road.  Sarah’s dog Hallie, a Great Pyranees cross (left), and Peter’s dog Bella, a chocolate Lab, join us for a walk on a mild evening this week, late in a day when Kinney Road had thawed out.  Snowbanks are starting to recede during the day but it’s still March and everything freezes back up solidly at night.

Garlic Greens and Grasshopper.    Last Fall Megan filled a potting tray with soil and placed it down in the cellar.  Then a few weeks ago she brought the tray upstairs into her office and planted some garlic bulblets which she had collected from the garden last Summer.  Her plans were to snip some of the garlic growth to use in cooking.  Megan’s guessing this lost little grasshopper hatched out from an egg hidden in the soil.  He’s not bothering anything so he’s got a home.

Mark Twain on Patriots.

Recipe: Maple Syrup Scones.

1/4 c Organic Maple Syrup
6 T Milk
2 1/4 c Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 c Rolled Oats
1 1/2 T Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
11 T unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.

Whisk together the maple syrup and milk in a small bowl and set aside. In a food processor, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt and pulse to mix together. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles sandy flour (about 20 quick pulses). Add the maple syrup milk. Pulse just until the dough comes together. If the batter is too dry add more milk a bit at a time.

Turn onto a floured surface, knead once or twice just to bring the dough together. Arrange the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Slice the dough into nine equal-sized squares. Arrange the scones next to one another on a baking sheet, 1/4-inch distance between each of them.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden along the bottom and tops. Yummy.


Yummy Maple Syrup Treats.
Photo by Angela Wotton.

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