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Spring Stalls Out.

Cool Week Delivers COLD Soil for Northern Maine.

We like to begin planting our Greenspouted crop of Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes when the Soil Temperature hits +50ºF.  We take our readings at a six-inch-depth at 7 am, before the sun has had a chance to skew matters.  Remember, wound healing of the cut surface of a Seed Potato will NOT occur below 45ºF.


       Using twenty-five years of data he collected at the Potato Experiment Station in Presque Isle, Maine, now-retired Extension Potato Specialist Dr. Steve Johnson determined May 19 is the average date Northern Maine crosses into 50ºF Soil Temp territory.  Until a week ago we were headed in the right direction.  Then a cool rain followed by cold weather and hard frosts reversed course and dropped us back down to 40ºF Soil Temp.  We’re again beginning to climb out of the cold and hope to start planting next week.


     When Caleb and his brother Peter were young, they and their father, Jim, took a multi-week Youth Hunter Safety course at the local High School.  The instructor advised to always carry THREE compasses.  He explained you couldn’t trust one on its own, two might give conflicting info, but three allows majority rule.


     As you can see in the Soil Temp readings taken this morning and shown in the photo above, we follow good advice when we hear it.  With the sun rising higher and getting stronger every day now, we expect appropriate planting conditions will soon arrive.  In the meantime, our Greenspouted Seed Tubers continue to advance in the safety and warmth of our 55ºF Light Room so we’re content and prepared to wait out this cold snap.


      Please find in this issue of the
Wood Prairie Seed Piece a brand new Maine Tales for you, entitled “Putting Heads Together,” about a meeting of the minds in the Acadian French country.  Also, a Special Offer for FREE Organic Fertilizer, a tasty new Recipe from Megan for “Roasted Beet Salad with Pea Sprouts” and a new Notable Quote from solitude-seeker Edward Abbey.

      Here on Wood Prairie, we’ve had a lifelong commitment to Organic farming.  We’re here to help and you may trust us with ALL your Organic needs, including
Organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes, Organic Sweet Potato Slips, Organic Vegetable Seed, Organic Herb Seed, Organic Flower Seed, Organic Cover Crop Seed, Organic Fertilizer, and Tools and Supplies.

  Thanks for everything & Stay Warm!

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

Bridgewater, Maine

Click here for the Wood Prairie Family Farm Home Page.

Special Offer! FREE Organic Potato Fertilizer.

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Maine Tales. Putting Heads Together.

    Fort Kent, Maine. Circa 2008.

Stonyfield Farm Organic Milk.  This iconic New England brand earned its fame from its headliner product, Stonyfield Organic Yogurt. Stonyfield-branded fluid Organic milk follows business gospel and is Ultra-Pasteurized. Stonyfield Farm was established in 1983 in New Hampshire by pioneering Organic farmers Samuel & Louisa Kaymen. Years ago, the Kaymens retired to a quiet spot on the coast of Maine. Samuel passed away in 2022 at age 86.


     Worlds colliding, the last thing I expected during that dinner break was for a debonair Canadian titan of industry in his three-piece-suit to make a fast beeline towards me. 

Heading North

     We were all convened for a business gathering.   Maine Governor John Baldacci was hosting New Brunswick’s Premier Shawn Graham for a Roundtable Business Summit in the tippy-top Northern Maine border-town of Fort Kent. The Summit was held during the buoyant, halcyon days of pre-Great Recession Springtime.  The format involved the neighboring political leaders bringing with them a cadre of members from their business communities so that all could discuss common business challenges and opportunities.

      It was a Saturday event.  Being mid-May we had just begun to harrow our own Potato fields in the previous week.  May is universally the most harried month of the year for North American farmers.  That distills down to the fact that we don’t get around much until planting is completed in June.  On this rare May trip northward I was surprised by the stark difference latitude had made over the length of the eighty mile journey to this American side of French Acadia.  Spring had not sprung in this historically francophone point of origin for US Route One.  To use English Aroostook jargon, no one up towards Fort Kent  had yet “spun a wheel”.   My quick calculation was that if Fort Kent’s growing season was shaved by a solid week in the Spring as compared to us, they must also stand to lose another week in the Fall.   With Northern Maine’s already paltry growing season to begin with, a reduction by another couple of weeks must present itself as a steep challenge for area crop production.

Summit Supreme

     In the lead up, our Governor and the Premier were tasked with enlisting business representatives to attend this one-day Summit.  For a Democrat like Bangor’s John Baldacci, the pickins’ are slim in Northern Maine as our Dem business bench runs thin.  However, the good Governor did manage to roust up his necessary contingent.  On Team Maine represented independent businesses, including the owner of a backwoods sportsman camp, the head of a fabricating company which builds fire engine apparatus and one Organic farmer who grows a little bit of Maine’s iconic Potato crop.  The Governor’s business group were all hands-on Maine small business owners.   We showed up, as rural Mainers typically are wont to do, dressed casually with open-collar-shirts sans sports coats.

     Weren’t we surprised to discover the high-octane team Premier Graham had brought with him.  To a man, they were elite behemoths of New Brunswick industry.  Attending were the CEO of New Brunswick Power, the head of Fraser Paper, and top executives from McCain’s Frozen Foods, JD Irving Ltd. and banking and mining interests.  Power-dressed in Italian suits, starched white shirts and ties, they might just as well have been all on their way to a Canadian trade mission in Hong Kong.

     Unrattled, our unpretentious Maine delegation offered our modest company thumbnails and perspectives on common challenges confronting our two similar and abutting rural colonies.  In their initial presentations, the Canadians portrayed charm and were brimming over with confidence.  Discussions soon ensued.

Soaring Organic

     When it was my turn to talk, I offered an off-the-cuff rosy review of the recent rocket-like growth occurring in the Organic sector.  Increasingly, consumers were thinking things through and concluding that the good life was an interwoven blend of good health, good pursuits and good eating.   Since Organic dairy farming was then flying high I choose to build my narrative around Organic milk and the hard-working organic family dairy farmers who then produced it.  I made note that Organic milk had been identified as the primary entry point for new Organic eaters.  So it stood to reason that continued robust Organic milk sales were a leading trend indicator of continued Organic industry growth.

    Soon after offering my Organic ditty the Summit broke for dinner.  That’s when the NB Power CEO in his three-piece suit walked briskly over to me.  When within earshot, the first words out of his mouth were, “Why is the only Organic milk I can find always ultra-pasteurized?”  At first I offered an offhand reply.  I remarked on the spread out geographic nature of the USA and its similarly sprawling Organic milk production and consumption, intertwined with the few-in-number concentration of dairy processors.  In combination, these factors became inevitable economic pressure for concocting a distribution business model that would as much as possible free Organic milk from constraints common to this unique class of highly perishable foods.

Headhunted By New Brunswick

     Reassured that I knew something about what I was talking about, Mr. NB Power CEO soon loosened up and related his story.  Not long before he had been headhunted in Toronto where he and his wife had become committed, gung-ho Organic whole-food aficionados.  He had been successfully recruited to run NB Power.  So, he moved wife, kids, whole kit and caboodle to a new home in the Canadian Maritimes.  His milk inquiry had been genuine.  In the sophisticated and geographically-dense Toronto marketplace they had enjoyed the European-like availability of all things Organic, including raw and regular-pasteurized Organic milk.   However, in sparsely-populated New Brunswick, Organic offerings were limited and his family could find nothing beyond semi-shelf-stable ultra-pasteurized Organic milk.

       I related that in Maine for years there had been similar interest expressed for fresh Organic milk.  Maine’s relatively compact size and good distribution of Organic milk production – at the time 20% of all dairy farmers in the State of Maine were Organic – made the fresh Organic milk alternative a promising possibility.  In time, fledgling fresh Organic milk distribution attempts would be made in Maine.  It seemed conceivable that given the right combination of entrepaneurial Organic dairy farmers in proximity to Provincial-capitol Fredericton, and its long established and thriving year-round Boyce Farmers Market, that there was no good reason why fresh Organic milk could not one day become a reality.

     My CEO encounter at the business Summit once again provided a good reminder that you can’t tell a book by its cover.


Megan's Kitchen Recipes:
    Roasted Beet Salad with Pea Sprouts.

 1 bunch small to medium beets (about 1 1/2 lbs)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Sprouts or greens such as spinach

Balsamic vinegar

3 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 T fresh lemon juice

3 ounces goat cheese

 Preheat oven to 400ºF. Trim beets and wash them. Place in a casserole dish and drizzle with 1 T of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour.

 When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off skins. Quarter beets and place in a bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and toss. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 T of oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Toss sprouts with the dressing.


Serve sprouts topped with beets and goat cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4

Notable Quote: Abbey on Contemplating.

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Caleb & Jim & Megan Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
(207) 429 - 9765 / 207 (429) - 9682
Certified Organic From Farm to Mailbox

Wood Prairie Family Farm | 49 Kinney Rd. Bridgewater, ME 04735