Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
          Saturday, November 17th, 2018
                 Volume 27 Issue 22


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  Early Winter.

     Wheelbarrow Full of Fall Harvested Potatoes.   Our thanks to JoAnne Hoefler of Jamesville, New York, for sharing with us this great photo of her wheelbarrow-full crop of potatoes grown this year from our organic seed. Read JoAnne's note posted in the Mailbox section of this issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece.
     Joining JoAnne in this Mailbox is yet another wonderful harvest photo - this one reminiscent of Valentine's Day. It's that heart-shaped King Harry you'll see in the Mailbox - a spud dug up from Leslie Poole's garden in Rockland, Maine. You'll enjoy reading her dispatch.

     We have recieved word from customers in recent days that Friday's early East Coast snowstorm was expected to extend as far south as New York City and New Jersey. That's pretty early for the East and - no doubt in combination with the East's wet Fall - will have contributed to the fact that some field work will just not get done this Fall. Weeks ago we finished our outside work and are now fully engaged inside as the snow piles up outside.

     We'd like to express our gratitude for your support and we wish you all the best for a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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

The Remarkable Tale of a Fifty-Year Long Endeavor to Liberate Resilient Heirloom Plants Hidden in the California Foothills.

     Imagine the incredible value to agriculture and society possessed by irrepressible varieties of heirloom apples, pears, almonds, walnuts, olives - and more - which have been untended since they were abandoned by mining communities 100 years ago, yet are still producing delicious crops without any sprays of human attention.

      In a characteristically beautiful article, the 'National Geographic' reports on the lifelong work of our friend, Agrarian Elder Amigo Cantisano, who has been identifying and saving exceptional plants bred by relocated-mining-era French horticulturalist Felix Gillet. Waiting for re-discovery are the rugged, nature-selected varieties whose exceptional qualities are uniquely capable of leading a monumental transition to a future of primarily organic production.
     This is their story and we are confident you will find it of great value.

 Jim & Caleb

Five thousand feet up in the Sierra Nevada and a half-hour’s drive from the last paved road, a clearing opens at the edge of a forest. The clearing is ringed with pine, fir, and aspen, a dense palisade that shields its contents from a rutted track that runs past its hidden gate. Inside, a meadow harbors more than 100 gnarled trees. It is early September, but the trees’ leaves are still green, and other colors peek out among them: apples crimson and scarlet, pears golden and rusty, almonds and walnuts in globes of dull olive...

The trees of the hidden orchard have remained productive for more than a century without any such assistance. Far from being a lost piece of history marooned on a mountain, the orchard is a treasure chest.

Special Offer: Last Call & FREE Offer for Organic Red Russian Garlic Seed!

     After a very good season, our supply of fresh and delicious Organic Red Russian Garlic is now waning and we wanted you to let you know it will soon be history!  Great either for use as seed in the garden – Fall is the best time to plant - or for cooking purposes right now in your kitchen.

           You can earn yourself a FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Red Russian Garlic (Value $29.95) when your next order totals just $99 or more. FREE Organic Red Russian Garlic Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday November 19.  Please use Promo Code WPFF439. Your order and FREE Sack of Organic Red Russian Garlic must ship by December 7, 2018. Offer may not be combined with other offers. Please place your order NOW while our Organic Garlic supply lasts!

Click Here for Our Organic Wood Prairie Vegetable Seed.

Organic Red Russian Garlic. Last Call for Great Garlic!

Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

New  Local Road Sign to Number Nine Lake.  This was the year the benevolent State of Maine lavished attention on our modest corner of potato town Bridgewater.  Roads were worked on, road shoulders were ditched and road signs magically popped up to enlighten those uninformed.  This new sign was posted at the only intersection in the world where our half-mile long Kinney Road, meets in a “T” both Bootfoot Road and Number Nine Road.  Taking the Nine Road, after eight miles you’d come  to Number Nine Lake, and then a mile past the lake, up to Number Nine  Mountain on the very western edge of our Township in the North Maine Woods.

Fall Colors From Atop Quoggy Jo Mountain.  In a normal year, we finish digging potatoes in early October.  After getting done digging, we have a tradition of celebrating Megan’s birthday by taking the next Sunday to hike up Quoggy Jo Mountain in nearby Aroostook State Park.  Here, on a cool early October Sunday, are Jim, Megan, Amy and Sarah enjoying our annual hike and the incredible vistas of Fall leaves at their peak.

Wagon Load of Pallet Boxes.  In the days before Fall’s first snowstorm, we put away farm equipment and clean up the yard to make it easy to plow and pile the Winter’s snow.  For harvesting and handling our organic potatoes we use hundreds of wooden pallet boxes.  These ‘small’ 40” x 48” x 34” boxes have access doors on one side and hold 1000 pounds of potatoes.  They are the boxes we sort into this time of year as we pre-grade our entire potato crop. With the potato cellar now completely full, we backed this extra wagonload into a nearby shed for the time being.  In another month we’ll retrieve the wagon and unload its boxes for use in the potato storage.

Fifty-Pound Cartons of Potatoes Shipping Out Via Fedex Ground.   This shot was taken Friday noontime.  Old-timer ’Chub’ the cat watches as cartons of seed potatoes await pickup, headed to all corners of the country. We ship all through the Winter.   Virtually all of our competition are re-sellers who simply buy potatoes from who-knows-where for re-sale purposes, and only ship during a narrow window in the Spring.  We’re at the other end of the spectrum.  We grow all of our own organic Certified Seed Potatoes and we ship them directly to folks like you – when you need them – ten months a year from September until the 4th of July.

Caleb’s Ten-Foot ‘Boss’ V-Blade Snowplow.  It’s pretty rare for family farmers to buy expensive, brand new equipment.   Fortunately, if you look hard enough you can find very serviceable, good used equipment at exceptional values.   After years of patient searching, late last Winter Caleb found this long-sought-after used heavy-duty wide V-Plow.   He recently completed modifying and re-welding the mounting apparatus so the ‘new’ Boss plow would properly mount onto our Ford F250 Diesel plowtruck.  From inside the cab he has hydraulic controls which raise and lower the plow; the controls will also angle the plow left, right or V-formation.   Friday’s 6-8” snowfall was our third snowstorm in the last week.  With every storm, we have a big area to plow so that trucks can get in and out to our packing shed all winter long.  Caleb – who took over plowing ten years ago when he was 14 - confirms this new plow is better than anything we’ve ever had to plow with.  He’s already seen a reduction in plowing time, thanks to this plow’s width and superior design, compared to  your typical straight blade eight-foot plow.

Aldo Leopold on Consequences.

Recipe: Potato, Parsnip and Parmesian Gratin.

Serves 8 to 10

4 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
Kosher salt
1 lb parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cored and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 oz creme fraiche or yogurt
4 oz mascarpone
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 egg white, whipped until lightly foamy
1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 cup)

Put potatoes and parsnips in a pot, cover with water and add 1 T salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and parsnips, put them back into the pot with butter, and coarsely mash with a potato masher. Fold in the creme fraiche or yogurt, mascarpone, nutmeg, t tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Fold in egg white. Transfer to a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Heat the oven to 375ºF. Sprinkle the gratin with the cheese, and bake until the gratin is heated through and the top is golden, about 40 minutes.


A Delicious Holiday Meal.
Photo by Angela Wotton.
Mailbox: Heart Shaped King Harry and Wheel Barrow Harvest.

Heart Shaped King Harry

     Hi Wood Prairie Family Farm!

    I'm attaching two 'heart' shaped King Harry potato photos that I thought you'd enjoy! Imagine my surprise when I dug it up - I shall hate to eat it! If you think it would be a fun photo for your catalog, feel free to use it.

    I've just finished harvesting my small patch of Wood Prairie Family Farm potatoes, although I've been burrowing for a few every now and then for supper. Just want to say - they are so delicious - the best potatoes I've ever planted and plan to order more for next year. They were also the healthiest foliage I've ever had and was fortunate that I had no pests this year, so they stayed beautiful throughout the season. I didn't get a large crop but then I didn't expect to as the midcoast was in another drought this year and being on city water, I can't afford to water my gardens as often as I should. Having said that, most of what I did harvest were good size and not having a proper storage spot, I got what I needed.

    I enjoyed the experimenter's special as my garden is raised beds and not particularly conducive to planting potatoes - at least for a little old lady! Being a back-yard gardener, I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to choose four varieties in a small amount.
    I also wanted to mention that this is the first year I've ever had potato fruit on my plants. I found them fascinating and since I have no small children about, I chose to leave them on the vine to admire.
    Just an FYI - my maternal roots run really deep in The County (and New Brunswick) - spots that rival the coast in beauty. Every time I go up- country, I hate to come back to Rockland.

    I've received my new catalog and will be ordering at some point.

Rockland, ME

Great shot! King Harry is famous for having lots of "seed balls."

Jim & Caleb

Wheel Barrow Harvest

Greetings Wood Prairie

See attached - I harvest all my potatoes & so happy with the yield!

Best ever & yummy too.

Thanks for your wonderful starter seeds & answering my many questions.

Jamesville, NY

     Beautiful photo of your Wheel Barrow Harvest! So glad our seed did well for you.

Jim & Caleb.

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