Organic News and Commentary
From Maine
          Saturday, December 8th, 2018
                 Volume 27 Issue 23


 In This Issue of The Wood Prairie Seed Piece:

  A Year of Records.

     That Season Which Shifts to the Indoors. Though farmers would have plenty to do outside year-round, this time of year it’s good to have inside work.  We use these months to pre-grade our potato crop which really helps us become prepared for the tsunami of shipped-out orders coinciding with the Spring’s northward march beginning in February.

     After experiencing the record hottest meteorological Summer (June/July/August) on record in northern Maine - along with dry weather - the pendulum shifted quickly in the second half of September with cold and then wet weather.   Winter set in early with our first 4” snowfall on October 24. Since then we’ve had another six storms and an additional 26” of snow.    

     As proof of Winter’s early arrival this year, with consistency we’ve witnessed the three primary metrics of Maine winter:  cold, snowfall and snow depth.    Our pattern of near record cold in October and November, combined with unusual significant early snow continues here that it's now December.   

     Astonishing departure from historical norms is what the new National Climate Assessment report (see final article in this issue of the Wood Prairie Seed Piece) cautions us will become the earth’s new norm.  Climate scientists explain that the weather extremities experienced by farmers over the past 15 years are the prelude to further tough times.   We’re told there’s time to partially mitigate the costly climate trouble ahead, but it means coming together and acting with resolve now and in the next dozen years.

     We believe the interests of the world’s children and grand childrenare worth the effort.  What are we waiting for?

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

Wood Prairie Catalog. Soon to be in your mailbox but our FLIP CATALOG is now available on our website.
New Wood Prairie Catalog Headed Your Way.

     The brand new Winter 2019 Catalog is making its way to your mailbox!   This catalog includes new items like Maine’s new Organic Caribou Potato, Organic Golden Acre Cabbage and new Organic Wood Prairie T-Shirts.   What’s more, you’ll find many cases where we’ve succeeded in lowering prices.  That means our legendary high-performing Certified Organic seed is now more affordable than ever!

        But you don’t have to wait for your paper copy!  You may go – right now! - to our website and view the electronic Flip version of this same new catalog. 

      Regardless of whether you wait for the paper catalog, use the electronic Flip Catalog, or order TODAY from our website you’ll see the same great products and the great low pricing that will save you money!

  Caleb & Jim

Special Offer: FREE Organic Adirondack Blue Certified Seed Potatoes!

          One of the most stunning and beautiful potatoes released is recent years is Organic Adirondack Blue.   Along with sister, Organic Adirondack Red, both are introductions “traditionally bred” (NOT genetically engineered) by the talented potato breeders at New York’s Cornel University.

        Organic Adirondack Blue has breathtaking, brilliant, totally-blue flesh covered by a dark blue skin.   Tubers  siize up Mid-Season, substantially earlier than famous Late-Season heirloom, Organic All-Blue.  Organic Adirondack Blue yields are strong and reliable.  In the kitchen, Organic Adirondack Blue provides good taste and great novelty, allowing one to prepare fun purple potato salad or luscious lavender mashed potatoes.

       Enjoy growing this wonderful crop in next year’s garden and it will be on us!   Earn a FREE 1 Lb. Sack of Organic Adirondack Blue Certified Seed Potatoes (Value $11.95) when your next order totals $49 or more.  FREE Organic Adirondack Blue Certified Seed Potatoes Offer ends 11:59 PM on Monday December 10.  Please use Promo Code WPFF440. Your order and FREE Sack of Organic Adirondack Blue Certified Seed Potatoes must ship no later than May 5, 2019. Offer may not be combined with other offers.  Please place your order TODAY!


Click Here for our Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes.

Organic Adirondack Blue. Reliable and beautiful blue potato from Cornell.

Wood Prairie Family Farm Photos.

Putting Up a Pallet of Tablestock Organic Adirondack Blue Family Style.  Here in our 38ºF underground potato cellar, the four of us sort and box  up a pallet’s worth of tablestock (eating or “ware” potatoes) Organic Adirondack Blue “Tops” (large potatoes), leaving the  “Strip” (small potatoes) behind to be sold through the Winter and Spring as Certified Seed potatoes.  Caleb (blue sweatshirt) pours cartons of pre-sized and graded Tops onto the “wide nylon brusher” which buffs the potatoes, leaving the tubers clean and protected by a thin patina of soil.  Megan G. (with hood up) helps pull out the last of the Strip tubers.  Jim (red vest) sits and runs the foot-operated “Single Bagger” conveyor while inspecting tubers as they fill the carton Bottoms.   Megan S. uses special 2” tape (extra strong and sticky grip for moist cellar conditions) to seal up crisp 50-pound “Count Bottom” cartons.  Once weighed out, a printed white “Count Top” is slid down over the full Bottom and then the carton is stacked on the pallet, seven cartons per layer.  A full-pallet is seven layers high plus one on top to make a 2500-pound standard pallet of potatoes.

November Sunset on Wood Prairie Family Farm.  This time of year it gets dark by 4pm.  Head high piles of snow have been plowed up by Caleb and his snowplow.  The yard is plowed and kept free of snow throughout the winter so that on a daily basis trucks can come in, load up, turn around and get back out.

Hardworking Wood Prairie Cats Catching a Few Winks.  Cooper (left) and Chub strategically position themselves on an unused and soft office chair right near the heater.  Despite appearances to the contrary, farm cats perform the essential duty of patrolling barns and sheds, keeping mice and voles under control.  These boys earn their keep.

Hard Times Ahead. Remedial actions in the next dozen years can keep our climate dillemma to "manageable" levels.
New National Climate Assessment Makes Clear We Have A Harshly Different World Ahead.

     The recently released landmark 1600-page National Climate Assessment "represents cumulative decades of work from more than 300 authors."   The report paints a bleak and economically costly picture, including rising sea levels, increasingly variable and extreme weather patterns, droughts, floods, forest fires and crop failures.

     Thankfully, the National Climate Assessment indicates there is time for response and therefore hope. The world has a dozen years to take decisive action which would lessen and make "manageable" the otherwise towering troubles now being lined up for our children and grandchildren. 

     Agriculture can help. Thirty percent of excessive atmospheric carbon comes from agriculture. By adopting traditional organic practices - including cover cropping and sod rotations - farmers can sequester harmful excess carbon from the atmosphere and put in back into the soil as organic matter where it belongs.

      There was valuable coverage of the National Climate Assessment in the New York Times.  Additionally, the Atlantic offered good insight, including some excerpts below. 

Caleb & Jim

On Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, the federal government published a massive and dire new report on climate change.  The report warns, repeatedly and directly, that climate change could soon imperil the American way of life, transforming every region of the country, imposing frustrating costs on the economy, and harming the health of virtually every citizen.

... the National Climate Assessment—which is endorsed by NASA, NOAA, the Department of Defense, and 10 other federal scientific agencies...Many consequences of climate change will last for millennia, and some (such as the extinction of plant and animal species) will be permanent...

The report is blunt: Climate change is happening now, and humans are causing it. 'Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,' declares its first sentence. 'The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid'...

Its projections of sea-level rise are just as ominous. If carbon pollution continues to rise, a huge swath of the Atlantic coast—from North Carolina to Maine—will see sea-level rise of five feet by 2100. New Orleans, Houston, and the Gulf Coast could also face five feet of rising seas. Even Los Angeles and San Francisco could see the Pacific Ocean rise by three feet...

'If the United States were to try and achieve the targets in the Paris Agreement, then things will be bad, but we can manage,' he said. 'But if we don’t meet them, then we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of lives every year that are at risk because of climate change. And hundreds of billions of dollars'...

'It’s not that we care about a 1-degree increase in global temperature in the abstract,' she said. 'We care about water, we care about food, we care about the economy—and every single one of those things is being affected by climate change today.'

Booker T. Washington on Reality.

Recipe: Maine Potato Patties.


    2 lightly beaten eggs
    2 tablespoons chopped onion
    ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    2 cups mashed potatoes
    2 cups turkey, chopped
    2 cups stuffing
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil


    In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, onion and pepper. Gently mix in the potatoes, turkey and stuffing.
    In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium. Drop potato mixture by ½ cup into pan and press down slightly.
    Cook 4 to 5 minutes each side, until heated through and golden brown.
    Drain on paper towels and serve. Great brunch dish!

Makes 10 to 12 patties


Maine Potato Patties.
Photo by Angela Wotton
Mailbox: Wyoming Harvest & Katahdins..

Wyoming Potato Harvest.

     Your news article on picking potatoes reminded me of picking potatoes in Johnson County Wyoming for Harold Madsen and John Kumor nearly 70 years ago. It was after the war, my Mother and Aunt would pick during the week and kids could join on the week-ends. We drug big sacks behind us attached at the waist. The money was wonderful, but best of all were the harvest dinners served at both farms that were better than a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. I think we looked forward to it more than the money. The women enjoyed the days away from home and the cash and of course potatoes for the winter. Women in those days didn't need to go to exercise class they were strong and fit from working hard every day. We kids learned a lot fromj the big variety of workers who showed up to pick potatoes and listening to all their stories.

Buffalo, WY

Thanks for taking the time to share your potato story with us.


Katahdins NOT GMO.

Are Katahdins non-GMO?


     Katahdin is an heirloom Maine potato variety that was released in 1932 and is absolutely NON-GMO. Only a handful of potato varieties (sometimes vaguely marketed as "Innate" or "White Russets") are GMO. However, because of the on-going failure to require mandatory GMO Labeling, confusion is certainly growing. Buying Certified Organic Potatoes is the easiest and best way to AVOID ALL GMO Potatoes, since genetic engineering is an absolutely clear "prohibited method" under Federal NOP organic farming regulations.


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