Heritage Harvest Festival

Grace Hernandez

Grace Hernandez › Grace and her husband Michael managed Buxton, a Polyface satellite farm. Her first passion is to ...

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The high season is simmering down on the farm and with that comes the desire to venture out into the community. For us that’s the local food community and the state of Virginia offers plenty of opportunities in that regard! Last week we attended a very broad farm tour sponsored through MarketCentralOnline.org. The tour included 18 farms who opened their doors to the public on Labor Day. We picked up a few insights at each farm we attended and met some young farmers who are really committed to getting to getting things right! It was great.

My favorite event in Virginia is just around the corner. Starting on Friday September 14th and continuing through Saturday September 15th is the 6th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival. This inspiring event is hosted by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in partnership with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and is held at Jefferson’s home, Monticello. Virginians like to think of Jefferson as “America’s First Foodie,” and this event is a way to celebrate his agrarian lifestyle and vision. The historic estate will be open to tour along with the gardens.

What better person to jump start this event on Friday evening other than Joel Salatin? I’m certain his passion for farming will be heard and felt by all those fortunate folks attending the Friday evening’s talk and dinner. Word has it the dinner is being prepared with Polyface food and is (sadly) already sold out!

I attended this event last year and the buzz of inspiration and ideas from other gardeners, growers, teachers, and new friends stayed with me all year. Sandor Katz’s fermentation workshop last year was excellent. He gave a passionate short course on a whole host of fermenting recipes. I bought vegetables that day and got started on a new recipe as soon as I got home. What a treat that was!

This year the list of authors and teachers giving workshops is extensive. It’s going to be a challenge choosing which ones to attend.

Barefoot Bucha owners return this year. I’ve been making my own Kombucha for several years and I confess it just doesn’t have that sparkling champagne quality that this couple have mastered. Small steps of success for them, their Kombucha is now available on tap in Charlottesville at Whole Foods and Rebecca’s Natural Food Store. Yes, on tap! You take your mason jar or jug and fill up for only 35 cents an ounce. Hands down this is the best kombucha I’ve had yet. If only I could get them to share their secret…

I do hope to attend Harvey Ussery’s lecture. His latest piece of wisdom is The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, covering holistic poultry husbandry. I’ve heard nothing but great things about his expertise on chickens and I look forward to purchasing his book. I’m always up for new ideas for our flock. It will be fun to meet him! Chicken whisperer Pat Foreman will also be on hand no doubt with her traveling partner “Oprahenfry.” Pat is a good friend and her love for backyard chickens is infectious. She’s committed to legalizing backyard chickens in her hometown of Lexington, Virginia. You go Pat!

It’s my greatest hope that I will be able to get off the farm early enough to attend the early morning seed swap. I couldn’t pull it off last year because of our morning chores. Seed swaps are a great way to get to know other gardeners and come home with a few fresh wishes to grow something different. In addition, exchanging seeds provides the perfect initiation to learn about a whole host of unheard of heirlooms and hybrids. Attending seed swaps has broadened what we grow immensely.

The entire weekend is an educational festival with free workshops on sustainable agriculture, compost productions, integrated pest management, edible landscaping, regional cooking, guided tours and a perfect selection of exhibits and garden tours and so much more. There will also be cooking demonstrations from some of Charlottesville’s premium chefs. It’s so exciting to meet up with chefs who have a passion for supporting local farmers. The list of food vendors from the surrounding area offers a full range of delicious meals to keep your blood sugar up for the endless opportunities being offered every minute of the day. You just might consider your food footprint after attending this event.

The 2012 Heritage Harvest Festival will be held on Friday September 14, and  Saturday September 15, from 9am-4pm at Monticello on the West Lawn, in the visitors center, and in the new LEEDS-certified Center. The event is $15.

For more information, please visit HeritageHarvestFestival.com

Photo Credit: Heritage Harvest Festival