For years I had been wanting to go to the National Heirloom Exhibition! However, I rarely think about this event, until I’d be driving past the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California, during my annual visit there. I’d see the huge sign, and tell myself that next year, I would finally coordinate my trip to coincide with the exhibition.
Fast forward to late summer this year! One Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market, I was chatting with Evan, a vendor at the market. Evan specializes in Italian heirloom vegetables and seeds. I loved hearing about his travels through the Italian countryside, where he collected an amazing variety of Italian heirloom seeds. He mentioned that he was going to Sonoma County in early September to attend the Heirloom Exhibition to display his seeds and vegetables.
That’s when I decided to change my road trip timing this year, so that it would finally coincide with this event.
As many gardeners know, heirloom fruits, vegetables and flowers have been around for a very, very long time. These old-fashioned varieties are open-pollinated and the seeds have been saved and handed down from generation to generation to preserve their heritage. They are grown for flavor, not looks and ease of shipping around the world.
The exhibitions were spread across several buildings at the fairgrounds. Outside, there were booths selling tasty food and drink, a tropical fruit tasting table, displays of heirloom beans and plants for purchase, as well as areas for the many groups of school children to play and learn about growing food.
Inside one of the halls there were tables upon tables showing off an unbelievable number of heirloom fruits and vegetables, some of which date back several hundred years!
The sheer number of varieties within each category was absolutely mind boggling!
Come along, and see for yourself!
Another hall featured beautiful dolls and toys, handmade by a couple of charming German ladies, tables overflowing with books, local and not-so-local nurseries selling everything needed (and wanted) to grow a healthy garden without chemicals, and more.
How about an indoor growing tower! It lets you grow all the greens you could want to eat!
Another really cool exhibit was the decorative gourds exhibit! Check out the creativity!!!
There also were lots of beautiful flowers. Some simply used to decorate vendors tables, others were entered into contests with the possibility of winning a prize ribbon!
By the time I finished taking all this in, I was overwhelmed with amazement and gratitude to all those gardeners, who in the past, in the present, and in the future, work diligently to preserve these incredible edible treasures!