Despite the near 100F degree temperature in Sonoma County yesterday, I braved the heat and was able to spend a couple of hours at the last day of The National Heirloom Expo at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA. I’ve not attended this festival before, so I had absolutely no preconceived ideas whatsoever about what I was going to experience. Embarrassingly, I will admit, I hadn’t even heard of this event until about 10 days ago. A friend of mine had an extra ticket and invited me to join in. Thanks Cathy, I’m so glad I did. Holy Pumpkin Batman! This was a treat.
Gourd & Melon Tower- 30 ft high, National Heirloom Expo 2014
Where do I start? First a little about the Exposition:
The National Heirloom Exposition (#theheirloomexpo) which is sponsored by the Petaluma Seed Bank in Petaluma, CA is a gathering of growers, farmers, seed companies, non-profits and community-minded citizens who are dedicated to saving, propagating, educating and promoting all heirloom varieties of anything. You name it: fruits, vegetables, flowers, livestock, etc…the list goes on. There’s a heavy emphasis on organic, bio-dynamic, non-GMO and GE Free (without genetic engineering). There were lectures and speakers from across the country filling several meeting halls from morning till night for three days with talks on all things earth, garden, heirloom, food politics and more. You could dive in as deep as you’d like into any subject, as the line-up of presenters was so diverse and they really knew their stuff.
Now, back to my fun outing. I started off the excursion with a great presentation from Herbalist Kami McBride as she enlightened us to the multitude of medicinal uses for the simple, everyday herbs we all have in our backyards. A teacher of over 25 years in this field, Kami spoke to the various healing and health benefits of fennel, sage, rosemary and more. Her new book, The Herbal Kitchen is chalked full of ideas on utilizing plants which are probably growing right outside your doorstep, or finding new ways of blending spices sitting in your cupboard to cure whatever ails you. This book is going in the library for sure.
The rest of the Expo was lots of yummy food stalls, garden exhibits, the livestock shows (had to go visit the chickens and sheep!), vendors in the main hall selling everything from seeds packets to mushrooms boxes where you can grow your own fungi. Beautiful mushrooms from Gourmet Mushrooms–there had to be at least 100 varieties of garlic there- amazing! ]I snapped quite a few pictures so I’ll sign off here and leave you to browse all the incredible heirlooms below. Better yet, check out my Pinterest and Instagram pages as I’ll post even more shots of some truly amazing (albeit somewhat weird-looking) heirloom fruits & veg. Enjoy!
Gourd “Pilz Turban”
Gourd “Poire Fruits Bicolores”
Gourd “Tennessee Dansing”
“Ice Cream” Watermelon