Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
                Friday, August 31st, 2018
                 Volume 27 Issue 17


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  All of A Sudden Fall.

     Maine Potato Harvest, Circa  1958. Through the 1950s there were very few Potato Harvesters in Aroostook County. Here a farmer uses a John Deere 30 to dig potatoes. Hand Pickers pick supuds into baskets and empty into barrels.

     Aroostook had pioneered the efficient harvest system centered around 11-peck cedar potato barrels.   Back then, every farm needed hundreds of barrels for harvest and there were thousands of small independent family potato farms, just in Maine alone.

       There were many cooperages throughout Aroostook County determined to meet this big need for new barrels.  By 1977,when Jim started working winters as a cooper at Bridgewater Barrel – destined to become the last surviving Aroostook cedar stave cooperage- the heyday had passed as more and more farmers either got done farming or switched over to the more labor-efficient Harvesters.

      Herein 2018 Maine, we’re getting ready for “Digging.”  Local schools close in two short weeks for our annual Potato Harvest Break.  That’s when we will begin.
Caleb, Jim & Megan Gerritsen & Family
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine

Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse. Mouth of Portland Harbor.  Circa December 2009. One of the spectacular photographs by the talented Robert Bukaty in his stunning photo essay just out in The Atlantic.

Photo Essay: Daily Life in Maine.

     You won’t want to miss this stunning  photographic essay, Daily Life in Maine, by photographer Robert Bukaty, now appearing in The Atlantic.

       View this collection of thirty-six brilliant Maine photos gathered from Mr. Bukaty’s sterling career.

Caleb, Jim & Megan

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

Special Offer: FREE Organic Turkey Red Wheat Seed.

       Lots of you have been ordering Organic Turkey Red Wheat this Fall and we’ve been shipping out orders every day!  The window is now open for planting this high quality bread wheat for a fun harvest next Summer.   As a fast-growing cereal, Turkey Red can also be used as a soil-saving cover crop.
      Turkey Red is an heirloom landrace Hard Red Winter Wheat (HRWW) carried by Mennonites in 1874 from Russian to their new home in Kansas.  In the last 25 years, it was brought back from the brink of extinction by 5th generation organic farmer Bryce Stephens and family in western Kansas.

     Now earn a FREE 2.5 Lb. Sack (enough for sowing 500 square feet) of Organic Turkey Red Wheat Seed (Value $9.95) when your next order totals just $49 or more. FREE Organic Turkey Red Wheat Seed Offer ends 11:59 PM on Labor Day, Monday September 3.  Please use Promo Code WPFF434. Your order and FREE Sack of Organic Turkey Red Wheat Cover Crop Seed must ship by September 30, 2018. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please order today!

Click Here for Our Organic Wood Prairie Cover Crop Seed.

Turkey Red Wheat. Top-notch Heirloom Landrace Winter Bread Wheat.
Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Crib & Penstock, Mingus Mill, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.   Several of you have said you would like to see more photos - beyond those shown in the last issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece - of the operating turbine-powered Mingus Mill, originally built in 1886 we recently visited.  Located on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, here is the first of three shots.  This one shows the Log Crib that supports the Sluiceway which diverts a portion of the water from a nearby stream to fill the 15-foot tall Penstock.   The square and hollow Penstock is made of sawed 2”x6” planks, laid flat (brick-like) and nailed securely, featuring alternating overlapped corners.

Turbine Housing Connected to Iron Pipe Connected to Penstock.  The 15-foot tall Penstock creates a steady fifteen pounds of head.  Water exits the bottom of the Penstock through the iron pipe.  The bolted-on buldge at the near end of that iron pipe is the housing which contains the cast-iron Turbine.

Mingus Mill Turbine.  The heart of the Mingus Grist Mill – in its era the largest in the Smokies - is the water-powered cast-iron Turbine.  This Turbine, connected to a vertical shaft, enters through the floor of the Mill.  It generated 12-horsepower, enough to run the many cleaning and milling functions carried on in the mill.   The first water turbines had been invented back in the 1820s.

Deboullie Pond, North Maine Woods.  Back here in Maine, Deboullie Pond is the beautiful star of the State of Maine’s isolated Deboullie Public Reserved Land, located 60 miles Northwest of Wood Prairie Family Farm.    Owned collectively by the people of Maine, use of campsites along the shore is free-of-charge.  However, you’ll need to pay at the gatehouse near Portage to use area roads which are maintained by the paper companies whose land surrounds this wild 21,871 acre public reserve.

Club Caleb Annual Campout at Deboullie Pond.  Last week, Caleb and his sister Sarah – and ten more friends – enjoyed an end-of-Summer Farmer Vacation of five days at Deboullie Pond.  Virtually all twelve have worked on our family farm at one time or another over the years.  Here, eight of them are crammed into Caleb’s more-or-less water-tight boat.  Justin (rightmost), Caleb’s buddy and former Wood Prairie co-worker, recently picked up that red boat in the distance for a song because its motor was broken.  After a couple of night’s tinkering, Justin got the motor running right and brought boat along for this trip.

Wood Prairie Dexters Enjoying Knee-Deep Red Clover.  We cut this field for hay on July 3.  Now Megan’s Irish Dexter cows are grazing the regrowth which has come up thick in Medium Red Clover.  Little Petunia – our new Lowline Angus-Dexter cross calf is almost hidden by the lush clover.  She is fifth-in-line by her mother next to the fence.

Unloading Organic Winter Rye from Massey 300 Combine Into Gravity Wagon.  The day after we finished digging potatoes from this field last October, we sowed it to cereal Organic Winter Rye. Then this Spring we "frost-seeded" clover and grass seed - which over the Summer has grown over knee-high. Now Rye harvest is behind us.   Here, Jim is using the auger to empty the combine's hopper and transfer Winter Rye into the awaiting "Gravity Wagon."

New Ducklings on Wood Prairie Family Farm.  No doubt influenced by their incredible cuteness, the Ducklings Deal at our local Tractor Supply store was too much for Sarah to pass up. So now we have 2 Black Swedish, 4 Mallards (Brownish-colored), and 3 White Pekins (Yellow).  We supplement their feed with greens – especially weeds – and they are always enthusiastic eaters.

Sleeping Baby Ducklings.  Bedded down safe and sound, on dry sawdust, our sleepy Ducklings snuggle up and sleep in a heap.

Mahatma Ghandi on Priorities.

Recipe: Potato Apple Cranberry Drop Cookies.
1 cup grated raw potato (use fine blade on grater)
1 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 cup apple, peeled and chopped or grated finely
1 ½ tsp grated orange rind
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
¼ cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare first 4 ingredients and set aside. Cream butter and sugars; beat in egg and milk. Sift flour and dry ingredients, stir into butter mixture until well-blended. Stir in potato and fruit mixture. Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes. Makes 4 dozen cookies.



A Tasty Treat for Harvest Time.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Mailbox: Rainy Weather Blues and ROP & ROC.

Rainy Weather Blues

     Good evening,

     I live in New Jersey and have bought potatoes from you guys for quite a few years now and have had great success. This year my entire crop got decimated and I am not really sure why. I grow in barrels (3 different barrels) and all 3 barrels had the same thing happen. The potatoes grew as normal, I buried them as they grew, they started to flower and then one by one all of my plants died. They all rotted on the main stem below the soil level (and smelled putrid). This has been a VERY rainy year for us could that have been a cause? Should I get rid of that soil if it might be a fungus? Also is it too late to start a new batch of potatoes to get a crop before the winter hits. Is there a type you could recommend if so?

Thanks again,

Lambertville, NJ

     I would guess that with all the rain this year you may have met the three requirements of the Potato Late Blight  "Disease Triangle" - host, environment and inoculum.  Late blight spores can travel 50 miles and there are some strains of PLB which affect tomatoes and that could explain your potato's access to inoculum.
I think that switching the soil in your containers would be a good idea before you plant a nightshade like potatoes, peppers or tomatoes. You could still use that existing soil for unrelated crops like lettuce, spinach or chard.


Can you explain the difference between "ROP" and "ROC" ?



     ROP ("Real Organic Project") is a voluntary grassroots "Add-On" program created by organic family farmers which builds upon pre-requisite USDA-NOP organic certification.  ROP recognizes good organic farming by family farmers and focuses on key traditional organic production practices which are important to organic consumers, organic family farmers and organic integrity. 
The program credentials participating organic family farmers who adhere to these critical and meaningful production practices.  Many of these essential traditional practices are not followed by large, new-entry corporate operations.  Some practices, despite being required under the OFPA law (Organic Foods Production Act of 1990) and the resulting ‘Final Rule’ are not enforced by USDA.  Some examples of our good practices include organic family farmers who treat their livestock humanely, and who also only grow crops in-the-soil in-the-ground and who therefore do not utilize soil-less production systems, known under the broad heading as "Hydroponics.”  Soil-less Hydroponics are an illegal production system under the provisions of OFPA.

     The ROP program provides identity in the marketplace for organic family farmers who have shown commitment to farming well and with integrity.  The ROP program differentiates these authentic or "real" organic family farmers from fake and illegal corporate CAFOs and Hydroponic operations.

     ROC ("Regenerative Organic Certification") is a program invented by Rodale Institute which promotes "regenerative" production practices centered around soil health, animal welfare, and fairness for farmers and farm workers.


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