Flannel Jammies Farm

...praising God on our 1/5 acre of suburbia

Monday, September 9, 2013

Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello

Each year as Summer seems never-ending and unbearable, my thoughts turn toward Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's dear home here in Virginia, and the annual Heritage Harvest Festival.  It's a weekend filled with all things sustainable agriculture and homesteading.  Classes are offered by truly gifted presenters on everything from vinegar making to permaculture to pole barn building to pig plowing.  The knowledge, the sights, the fragrances, the vendors, and the splendor of Monticello's gardens... let's get going, shall we?

We arrived at Monticello on Friday and spent a day in classes.  My classes included:

Small Scale Cheese Making in the Home Kitchen
presented by Backyard Revolution's Anne Buteau

Creating the Family Homestead
presented by a panel including
Backyard Revolution's founder Adrienne Young-Ramsey

Native Medicinals: 
Making Medicine & Creating Sanctuaries
presented by Kathleen Maier,
Director of Sacred Plant Traditions
and Physicians Assistant, American Herbalist Guild

Maintaining a Bee Yard during Times of Adversity
presented by Paul Legrand,
beekeeper for Monticello and Tufton Farm

The hubs and I decided on different Friday classes.  His included:

Creating Abundance with Permaculture
presented by Blue Ridge Permaculture's Christine Gyovai

The New Victory Garden:
Harmonizing Vegetables & Flowers
presented by Joe Brunetti & Erin Clark, 
Horticulturists at the Smithsonian 
National Museum of American History

Chicken Whispering:
Discovering the Chicken You Never Knew
presented by Patricia Foreman,
author of City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Laying Hens 
as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, 
Bio-recyclers and Local Food Suppliers

Notebooks filled with notes, minds filled with new and exciting ideas, it was time to rest up for tomorrow's festivities. 

Saturday morning was glorious, filled with sunshine and just the right chill in the air.  We boarded the shuttle bus that would transport us up the mountain to Monticello with friends from the Virginia Urban Homesteader's League.  First stop:  the Seed Swap!

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange hosts this old-timey seed exchange each year.  Their growers bring some seeds to start things off, but lots of festival friends join in, bringing seeds lovingly saved from their home gardens.  Our friends brought seeds of lemon balm and icicle radish and so much more.  These were traded for false indigo and calendula and others.  Rodger Winn, certified organic seed grower of many heirloom varieties was on hand to answer questions and share his enthusiasm for seed saving.  (In 2011, he received the “Conservationist of the Year” award for Newberry County, South Carolina, and he is a past recipient of the Southern Seed Legacy “Seed Saver of the Year” award.)
Rodger Winn
Next, we gazed at Monticello in all her glory.  The home is stunning.  No other description is needed.

From the house we strolled through the vegetable garden and orchards.  The garden is amazing, situated perfectly on the mountaintop, green and productive.  Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to Etienne Lemaire, "I am constantly in my garden or farm, as exclusively employed out of doors as I was within doors when at Washington, and I find myself infinitely happier in my new mode of life."

After the refreshment of the garden, we wandered through the display tents and tasting tents.  So much to see and taste!  The tomatoes... oh! the tomatoes!... bowl after bowl of varieties unknown to most, each with their own distinct flavor.
Roasted cocoa beans
Tomato tasting

Chef demo of Tomato Watermelon Salad

We visited the vendor tents, stopping for hugs and the fragrance of handcrafted soaps from our friends at Roses Ridge Farm.  There were so many vendors with such wonderful offerings!
Roses Ridge Farm

On to visit one of the workshop tents to meet farmer, scientist, author and editor, Hank Will.  He's the editor of GRIT and Capper's Farmer, and a warm, engaging conversationalist.  It was a highlight of our trip to spend time chatting with him.  (Yes, he is a tall man, but I am a mere 5' tall.)
Meeting Hank Will
Ok, by this time, I was hungry!  We visited the food area where the offerings included lovely grass-feed beef, made to order crepes with local tomatoes, old-fashioned barbeque, and veggie offerings alike.  We had a delicious lunch and then enjoyed cold beer in our commemorative Heritage Harvest Festival tumblers from Kleen Kanteen.  

We spent the rest of the festival visiting the demonstration areas, exploring domestic arts, field arts, and homestead-y goodness:  blacksmithing, beekeeping, bricklaying, log splitting, spinning, weaving, knitting, preserving, dyeing, music making, and on and on.  

Sacks filled with seeds, books, and memories, we made our way back to the shuttle, stopping one last time for laughs and hugs with friends from the Virginia Urban Homesteaders League.  

Already planning next September's Heritage Harvest Festival.  Keep it in mind... it's worth the trip!

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