Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Day at the National Heirloom Exposition

For the last three days, the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA have been Disneyland for heirloom vegetable heads. The National Heirloom Exposition and Pure Food Fair attracted thousands of spectators and gardeners, most of whom had the same goofy, wide-eyed, jaw-dropped look on their faces when they walked into the Exhibit Hall and saw Squash Mountain, built by Mac Condill of the Great Pumpkin Patch in Illinois.

 Exposition goers were greeted at the main entrance by a huge, ornate pumpkin maze.

The Heirloom Exposition had it all: 250 like-minded vendors, including seed companies, tool companies, organic nurseries; 70 speakers; workshops galore on seed collecting, storing and sharing; movies about the food industry, including "Vanishing of the Bees" and "Food Fight"; food tasting; poultry and farm animal exhibits; bee exhibits; and the largest display of heirloom vegetables in the world: over 2,000 varieties from all over the country!

 This event attracted a large number of teenagers, young adults and young families. 

 This tomato, Pink Berkeley Tie Dye, took first place honors at the recent Kendall-Jackson Tomato Festival.

 Apple varieties more than 100 years old, courtesy of the California Rare Fruit Growers.

 Note to self: plant this next year. Trevor's Golden Beam was my favorite at the tomato tasting on Thursday. More sweet than acidic, but still had full tomato flavor.

                       A red meat watermelon RADISH?!?

 These are the hands of master chef Ray Duey. His freestyle carving creations took first prize. These are amazing melons!

                       No shortage of tomatoes here!
Tierra Madre Farm of Santa Cruz County, growers of heirloom fruit trees, demonstrates bud grafting.

 Live bluegrass music, indoors and outdoors

This was the first year for the Heirloom Exposition. Organized by The Petaluma Seed Bank and their parent company, Baker Creek Seeds, this was a not-for-profit event, with proceeds donated to special projects, such as school gardens. If they return next year, make it a point to attend.


  1. That looks really cool. I wish I could've been there to see it in person. Those carvings are spectacular.

  2. I didn't get to go though I have been following The Bakers for a few years. It's exciting to see such interest in food gardening, especially by younger people.

  3. Looks like alot of fun. I'll have to make it next year.


  4. I fully intended to go ... until I realized it was mid-week. Didn't that cut into attendance ? I mean, I'm serious about veggies & fruit & gardening & heirlooms & EVERYTHING this expo was about, but there was no way I could make it down their in the middle of the week. I have a job, and kids with school & their assorted extracurriculars. Any chance it'll be a weekEND event next time ?

  5. I went on Wednesday. It was kids day, and they had tons of activities for kids. I read that over 10,000 people attended. It was a really fun event with lots of interesting exhibits.

  6. Does this mean you'll let us know:

    1. When this event will happen next year
    2. Where to find Trevor's Golden Bean to plant?


  7. My husband and I were so glad that we could attend all three days of this event. We usually can't go to things like this as we work on the weekends. There was so much to do and see. It can only get better.

  8. So very upset I couldn't be there. So, so, so *jealous* of those that could. Please let us know the dates for next year as soon as possible.

  9. I went on Thursday with my sister and had a wonderful day learning more about the rapidly growing movement toward healthier food and away from industrialized agriculture. I even had my picture taken with Jere Gettle, the owner of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds who hosted the expostion. Part of the enjoyment was no loud music or noise. With over 200 vendors, I came home with a tote full of freebies, giveaways and web addresses, plus 3 books I bought. Loved the heritage chickens, turkeys, and mini cattle, as well as the fruit and veggie displays. In answer to why it was held mid-week, it's because most of the vendors work the Farmer's Markets on weekends. But it would be nice to have one weekend day covered.