Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
                Friday, August 17th, 2018
               Volume 27 Issue 16


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  Farming Here and There.

     Mingus Grist Mill, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Circa 2018.  After attending the Summer Conference of the Direct Gardening Association in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week the entire Gerritsen clan went camping at Elkmont in nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Everyone enjoyed the exhibits at the Oconaluftee Mountain Farm Museum, on the North Carolina side of the Park, including the operational (rebuilt shortly after the Park was established in 1934) 1886 water-turbine-powered Mingus Grist Mill.  The ingenuity, craftsmanship and substantial back-woods-engineering of this largest grist mill in the isolated Smokies was very impressive.
     Meanwhile, back home, our time-consuming efforts at irrigation work seem to be succeeding in turning the tide away from dry into a pattern of nearly sufficient rain.  Our rain gauges show that so far in August we’ve had 2.65” with another inch or two on the way for tonight and Tuesday.  We’ve talked with farmers in New Hampshire and western Massachusetts who got inundated with 9-11”of heavy rains last weekend.  When it rains, it pours!

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

Dewayne Johnson. Landmark victory against Monsanto earns unanimous Jury rejection of Monsanto lies.

Is Justice Catching Up With Monsanto?

     Monsanto Company has been around for over one hundred years.  Over that time Monsanto has earned legendary disdain worldwide for its greed-driven, self-serving agenda and outlandish aggressive behavior.  Over its dreadful history Monsanto has caused extraordinary harm to people and the environment. 

     A good argument could be made that this last week has been one of the worst weeks ever for reviled corporation Monsanto, all too well-known for its malevolence and ruthlessness.

    Last Friday, in a “verdict heard round the world,” a Superior Court jury reached a unanimous decision and ordered Monsanto to pay groundskeeper DeWayne Johnson $289 Million in combined compensatory and punitive damages for harm caused by Monsanto’s profitable flagship herbicide known as “Roundup.”   The jury’s verdict not only found Monsanto’s Roundup presented a substantial danger to people using their Roundup products, but importantly,  Monsanto behaved egregiously and concluded there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Monsanto officials acted with “malice or oppression” in failing to adequately warn of the risks in using Roundup. 

      Mr. Johnson’s case is the first Roundup lawsuit Monsanto has had to face.  As of now, a jaw-dropping 4000 similar Roundup lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto.

     Then, two days ago on Wednesday, the California Supreme Court rejected Monsanto’s challenge in which it asserted that its herbicide 'Roundup' should not be listed by the State of California as a cause of cancer.  The Prop 65 California listing followed the 2015 classification of Roundup’s main ingredient, “Glyphosate,” by a branch of the World Health Organization as a “probable human carcinogen.”

     Now that the truth is finally emerging, is justice finally catching up with Monsanto?


Click Here for our Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes

Special Offer: FREE Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed.

       In many ways, Organic Winter Rye is the standard by which other cover crops are measured.  As a cereal grain it is commonly planted in the Fall and harvested for grain the following Summer.  While being renowned for its extreme winter-hardiness and therefore as an excellent protective winter cover crop, Winter Rye may also be successfully planted as a cover crop during the Spring or Summer.

      Importantly, Winter Rye is considered a highly allelopathic crop meaning it releases high levels of natural allelochemicals which give Winter Rye a big leg up against weed competition.

     Do keep a good supply of cover crop seed like Winter Rye on hand on-hand.  That way, a valuable cover crop may be immediately sown in order to properly protect and improve the soil.

     Earn a FREE 2.5 Lb. Sack (enough for sowing 500 square feet) of Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed (Value $9.95) when your next order totals just $39 or more. FREE Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday, August 20.  Please use Promo Code WPFF433. Your order and FREE Sack of Organic Winter Rye Cover Crop Seed must ship by September 7, 2018. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please place your order today!

Click Here for Our Organic Wood Prairie Cover Crop Seed.

Wood Prairie Organic Winter Rye. This photo with clovers growing underneith demonstrates the incredible cover cropping capability of this legendary cereal grain. (Photo by Jean English)

Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Caleb & Jim Gerritsen Share Their Views in Caleb's Repair Shop.   Last month, during our record hot July, four staffers from MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) went on a tour of Aroostook County and stopped by Wood Prairie Family Farm for a visit.  Here, Caleb (left) responds to one of their questions in his Repair Shop.   Caleb keeps the equipment running on this farm and that is one tall order which keeps him plenty busy.   Thanks to generous folks like you, we held a successful crowdfunding project back in 2002 and that helped us build Caleb’s slick 30’ x 70’ Quonset hut Repair Shop.  Caleb is a natural at all things mechanical (he’s been driving farm pickups since he was 5 years old) and earned a degree in ‘Diesel Hydraulics’ from the wonderful local Northern Maine Community College.

Wood Prairie's Big Pond Looking East.  MOFGA Editor Jean English snapped this shot of our Big Pond which has been used for irrigation during this dry Summer.  If you look closely, you can see water ripples being made by members of our resident pond family of Wood Ducks.

Wood Prairie's 'Petunia' Dexter-Cross Calf.  Little Petunia – a cross between her Irish Dexter mom and a Lowline Angus bull - is dwarfed by some tall Yellow-Blossom Sweet Clover just prior to that pasture being chopped.  She’s standing in the ‘Elm Field’ which lies west of the Big Pond.  Our four-year rotation calls for this field to be planted next year to grow Organic Certified Seed Potatoes.

Organic Winter Rye Growing on Wood Prairie Family Farm.  Caleb’s sister, Sarah, is a budding photographer and she captured this beautiful shot from our field of Organic Winter Rye.  We’re waiting for a few days of bone dry weather and then we’ll harvest this cereal Rye crop which will be used as top notch cover crop seed and to be ground into flour for delicious Rye bread. 

Ever Watchful Wood Prairie Felines Chub & Cooper at Rest.  A rare shot of two of our barn cats perched high, resting and in observation mode.   Old timer Chub (left) is Jim’s favorite (perhaps because he is more like an attention-seeking  dog than a stand-offish cat) and often during the winter will come down to visit him in the cellar as he is grading potatoes.  Despite appearances, our crew of barn cats are hard-workers and effectively keeps down rodent populations around the farmstead and farm buildings.

Mingus Mill Horizontal Grindstone.  Peter’s (Caleb's brother) thumb-to-pinky 9” hand-spread on a millstone in the remarkable Mingus Mill in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The mill utilized a water-powered cast-iron turbine which generated 12-horsepower – enough to run the many functions in the mill including two pairs of 36-inch horizontal mill stones, grain cleaner, huge bolter for separating fineness of the ground flour, and a bucket elevator for conveying grain up to the second floor so grain – usually corn - could gravity feed down to the grindstones on the first floor.  For numerous reasons corn has always been king in the Smoky Mountains, including its superior resilience and performance in a challenging climate with lots of Summer thunderstorms and 85” of annual precipitation.  The main corn variety grown was the heirloom Hickory King.

Waterwheel-Powered Cable Grist Mill in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Another not-to-be-missed activity in the Park is to drive (or bicycle ride on Wednesday and Saturday mornings when automobiles are excluded) the beautiful twelve-mile loop road around Cades Cove, a 2000-foot elevation, isolated historic mountain valley on the Tennessee (north) side of the Park.  Probably because we have grown and milled organic grain, the Cable Mill also held a lot of fascination for us.  While a waterwheel was less efficient and certainly less sophisticated than a water turbine, all waterwheel components could be fabricated on-site from native hardwoods, including the gears.  The inventiveness and workmanship skill involved in these two grist mills was extraordinary.

Russell Gregory Gravestone Behind Primitive Baptist Church in Cades Cove. During the Civil War, both the Primitive Baptist Church and the nearby Methodist Church in Cades Cove had among its members Union and Confederate sympathizers.  Both churches closed their doors for the duration of the War as a peaceable solution for mighty differences of opinion.  “Gregory Bald,” located in what is now the Park, seven miles southwest as the crow flies from these Churches - on the Tennessee/North Carolina state border – was named after Mr. Gregory.  He was one of Cades Coves’ most prominent citizens and a Union patriot.  While 150 years later there are varying accounts of the details which resulted in his tragic death, there is universal acceptance of the family’s belief that patriarch Russell Gregory was in fact shot and killed in 1864 by Rebels from North Carolina.

The Dalai Lama on Education.

Recipe: Zucchini-Oatmeal Muffins.

1 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c chopped pecans
4 eggs
1 medium zucchini, grated
3/4 c salad oil

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease (12) 3" x 1 1/2" muffin pan cups.

In large bowl, mix together first 7 ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat eggs slightly; stir in grated zucchini and salad oil. Stir egg mixture into flour just until flour is moistened.

Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake 25 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.



Zucchini-Oatmeal Muffins.
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