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Gardener Alert: Two heirloom festivals in September

July 29, 2011 |  3:59 pm


The first ever National Heirloom Exposition will be held Sept. 13-15 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. This “World’s Fair” of the heirloom industry, sponsored in part by Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., will also feature "dozens of seed companies, garden tool companies, and garden accessory craftsmen and their wares from throughout the U.S. as well as plants and plant starts, garden-inspired art and organic, natural and original food items.” 

There will be cooking demonstrations with chefs (including Jeremy Fox, formerly of Ubuntu in Napa), educational seminars, film screenings and 200 or more booths — plus tastings of heirloom vegetables from around the country. Speakers will include Alice Waters, founder of the Edible Schoolyard, and  Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya, a movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seeds.  

Hayground Organic Farm’s Jimmy Williams, a regular at the Santa Monica and Hollywood farmers markets, will be there along with co-author and garden writer Susan Heeger, giving a talk and signing “From Seed to Skillet: A Guide to Growing, Tending, Harvesting, and Cooking Up Fresh, Healthy Food to Share with People You Love” (Chronicle Books, $30).

The National Heirloom Exposition, The Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 13-15. Price: Adults $10, kids 17 and under free (all proceeds go to benefit school garden and food programs). Visit www.theheirloomexpo.com for more details.

If you’re planning on attending the 15th annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival in Santa Rosa this September, better get your tickets soon. Half of them are already sold at $65. (Members of Kendall-Jackson’s Wine Club get a $20 discount.) Ticket sales benefit the School Garden Network, described as a nonprofit collaboration of garden coordinators, classroom teachers, parent volunteers and community partners dedicated to the creation and support of sustainable garden and nutrition-based learning programs for students in Sonoma County. OK, fine. Worthy cause.

Still, for that ticket price, you’re going to want to eat your fill of the 150 varieties grown in the Sonoma wineries’ gardens. Bring a notebook to jot down which ones to plant in your garden next year. And come early. The event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 10, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

It’s not just a big tomato tasting, however. The event also includes food, wine and gardening seminars, including one on composting led by Organic Gardening magazine editor Ethne Clarke. Music and wine tasting round out the mix. But get this: though the event benefits students, you have to be 21 to attend, presumably because wine is involved. Crazy.

 For more information, call (800) 769-3649 or visit www.kj.com/events/tomato-festival/.


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Photo: Heirloom tomatoes by Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times