Friday, September 23, 2011

Monticello and the Heritage Harvest Festival

I don't get away much. It just isn't possible.

Dogs, cats, chickens and the rest of the family and vegetable fields to tend make it hard to ask someone to come in and take over. It is a pretty big job.

It's okay though. This is what I have chosen.

But an ad in The Mother Earth News convinced me that maybe it was time. A big beautiful picture of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home and his vegetable gardens as well as the headline "Heritage Harvest Festival" and I was on my way to Virginia last weekend.

The event was sponsored by Mother Earth News, but the bigger presence was Southern Exposure Seed Exchange . Great seed company, and as expected I came back with a good sized bag of seed for next year. Rice, a few cottons, a bunch of tomatoes, okras, peppers, and well....quite a bit more. 

I'm not sure about the rice and cotton, but Charlottesville, Virginia is US zone 6b and I'm Canadian zone 6b. So we're not too far off.

Mollie hit the heirloom flower seed racks so her garden will be aglow with bright colours next year. Her favourite? Probably the ultra cool cockscomb, which she can now grow in many colours!

The festival was very good. So many nice folks to chat with about gardening. And some great things for kids to do, which has inspired me to have a very different kids area at Seedy Saturday in 2012. 

But the highlight beyond any doubt was just being at magnificent Monticello. High on a hill overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is breathtaking. Seeing the gardens, orchards and vineyards, touring the house and just drinking in all that wonderful history. It would be difficult to not be in awe of it all.

To tell you the truth, I've never given a whole lot of thought to Thomas Jefferson. But fascinating he was. Consumed by a thirst for knowledge, especially scientific knowledge, an avid gardener and a thoughtful, intelligent man. 

But also a man conflicted. He spoke of slavery as an abomination, but over his lifetime held at least 600 slaves.  And Monticello functioned because of his reliance on slaves. 

And the vegetable gardens. Well, they were just spectacular.  Good plots of many familiar vegetables, but also a good southern dose of cowpeas, sesame seeds, Texas Bird peppers and figs.  And clay!

But not my Haldimand clay. This is Virginia red clay, a totally different soil which seems to support the crops very well.
The figs...oh my!

Cow Horn Okra

Ain't she pretty...Hyacinth bean

All this, AND an heirloom tomato tasting.

You just can't tell me I wasn't meant to be there! 

And I'll probably go back. There's just so much more to see.

Thank you, Virginia for your beautiful hospitality.


Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Looks like a lovely time. Interesting tidbits about Jefferson. Kind of funny that an heirloom tomato farmer goes on a holiday for an heirloom tomato tasting ;)

Linda said...

Hi Norma-You aren't the first person to say that!But it was really wonderful and I am going to be looking for books at the library to read about Thomas Jefferson. Really a very interesting man!

Viagra Online without prescription said...

What an impressive harvest! please post some picture of these famous Tennessee's sweet potatoes!