Heirloom Exposition and Free Tickets

– Posted in: Edible Organic Gardens, Garden Travels

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The Third Annual National Heirloom Exposition takes place in Santa Rosa, California on September 10, 11, 12.  Read on for a free ticket offer.

First a word or two about heirloom vegetables.  What’s the big deal ?   They are often funny looking, can be hard  to grow, and often yield less than modern hybrids with no better nutritional value.  For many they are a fad, appealing to trendsetters, snobs, and the politically correct since “heirloom” is often tied to “sustainability” and “organic”.

A very well respected writer, here on Gardening Gone Wild once said in essence:  “Heirlooms are heirloom for a reason – they aren’t very good and no-one wanted to save them”.  A lively discussion ensued 2 years ago after the post by Noel Kingsbury:  Garden or Museum – what’s the big deal with heirloom veg?.

Now the best reason to grow heirlooms: it’s fun.  With a little effort, and anyone who grows vegetables knows it’s an effort, gardeners can find varietes that do indeed taste better than modern hybrids.  No variety of any fruit or veggie will grow the same for any grower, even across the same town, much less gardens in different climates.  It’s fun to experiment and find those that suit our different tastes, our different gardening style, the many micro-climates that exist everywhere.

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Heirloom tomato display at 2011 Heirloom Expo

Indeed we all get swept up in the romantic notion that heirlooms reflect the good ol’ days before the vegetables we get in the supermarkets were bred for shipping purposes, those days when we did not worry about GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), chemical pesticides, and back to a time, not really so long ago, when there were no such thing as artificial, petroleum based fertilizers.   The heirloom movement has been swept up in our desire for pure and organic food, but really they are separate ideas.

Personally I worry that the word “heirloom” will be soon co-opted by marketing folks who will grow these old seeds in chemical based agriculture, assuming the well intentioned but uninformed will pay a premium for a product that is no better than modern seed.  I know for sure that is true in my local markets where we now find heirloom tomatoes 8 months a year, and except for a couple months in the height of the season (now), they are just as bland as the perfectly shaped red ones next to them in the vegetable aisle.

This phenomena of marketing, to play on and abuse our romantic ideas of heirloom, or organic, or sustainable, or even “local” has led many a wise gardener to grow their own and support farmer’s markets where it’s pretty easy know where your veggies were grown and even how they taste.  Many of the small local farmers that are increasingly able to eek out a living in small towns around the country depend on heirloom seed to find just the right variety for local conditions.  These farmers do not have romantic notions about the good ol’ days, they want a crop that works, that tastes good, that we will go out of our way to buy.

Heirloom apple display at 2011 Heirloom Expo

Heirloom apple display at 2011 Heirloom Expo

So now seed companies now have a real heirloom seed market.  Small farmers everywhere are now buying seed by the pound not just the packet – and we now have small seed companies that can support the heirloom movement.

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No doubt the Monsanto’s of the world are unfazed but small companies like Johnny’s, Territorial, Baker Creek, Reneé’s Gardens, High Mowing and dozens more that are able to offer unusual heirloom seeds to small growers and the homeowners who want to grow some of their own food and have edible landscapes.  With the resurgence of ‘grow your own’ we now have local tasting events, farmer’s markets, garden shows that feature edible themes, and now the National Heirloom Exposition.

For many years the only source of heirloom seeds was the Seed Savers organization who for 40 years has been “Passing On Our Garden Heritage” ™ and preserving seed by growing and collecting them.  Thank goodness.  When I saw that David Cavagnaro, one of my garden photography heroes who had moved to Iowa to support Seed Savers was speaking at the first Heirloom Expo in 2011, I sure went out of MY way to see what was going on.

What happens at the Heirloom Expo is fun – exhibits, barnyard, music, vendors, and food samples everywhere. But it is much more than a fair.  There are speakers all day every day and keynote presentations by GMO activists from around the world.   The Expo represents a movement, a community of gardeners, foodies, small farmers who are in the pursuit of happiness and harmony with the land and the food that comes from it.  And it reminds us why food gardening is fun.

Prizewinning carved melons  Heirloom Expo

Prizewinning carved melons Heirloom Expo

I think everybody should go, and I have a pair of tickets to give away.   Please don’t ask for the tickets if you can’t go, but since Santa Rosa is only 60 miles north of San Francisco you Gardening Gone Wild readers from far away should plan an impromptu trip.  I am going to NYC next week to see a museum exhibit at the Guggenheim, so why not plan a trip to California around the Expo in September ?

The tickets come courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds which is the major sponsor of the Expo.  I really believe in this event and would have written this post without their tickets; but when I asked for a media pass they gave me four tickets for any day.  So thank you Baker Creek, founder Jere Gettle, and their local store The Petaluma Seed Bank for making this happen.

To win the tickets (and parking pass), post a comment here before Friday the 30th saying why you want to go.  I will pick my favorite, and if there are multiple favorites, I will draw straws, somehow.

But go.  Have fun.

Mountain of gourds at Heirloom Expo

Mountain of gourds at Heirloom Expo

For anyone with 4 minutes to kill here is a handheld shaky video I shot of Heirloom Expo exhibit floor in 2011.

Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt is the owner of PhotoBotanic, a garden picture resource for photographs, workshops, and garden photography stories. A landscape photographer and award winning photojournalist with more than 20 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California.

Saxon Holt

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Jude Parkinson-Morgan August 24, 2013, 5:24 pm

Saxon. I was thrilled to see this post – I was not able to go to the Exposition last year as I was taking an Edible Landscaping class at Merritt College so planned to make up for it this year! I am a great supporter of growing heirloom varieties – so much so that when Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms sent an email after the last exposition saying that he had access to some seeds of a newly discovered heirloom – the Amos Coli tomato – I decided to grow all my tomatoes from seed this year with some good results! I would love to have the opportunity to visit the Exposition in September.

Saxon Holt August 24, 2013, 6:00 pm

Wow – Jude – such a great answer! Almost too good for the free tickets because you will probably go anyway . :-) – Saxon

Tina Micheal Ruse August 24, 2013, 6:13 pm

We have gone the last two years and it is great! Last year we brought a friend and she wants to go with us this year again.I highly recommend it to everyone. Fun,informative,good stuff to buy and the food was great!

Fun and informative are the key words and don’t always happen at these things. Fairs can be fun but not informative. Symposiums can be informative but not fun in the childlike innocence of a Fair. – Saxon

Cid Young August 24, 2013, 6:37 pm

I primarily grow vegetables, all organically, but I also luv-luv-luv succulents.
I have been once to The Seed Bank in Petaluma, and have never attended their heirloom festival, but I would like to!
This year, my husband of 37 years, walked out, leaving only a note, and taking his steady paycheck with him. I am now both interested and have the need to grow more of my own food. I have lost about 40 lbs since he left, mainly because I’m subsisting from my vegetable garden, and stopped buying meat when he took off. Currently, I am reading “The Feast Nearby” by Robin Mather. (10 Speed Press)

Cid Young
Moss Beach, CA

Cid – You are in a great location for both your love of succulents and growing veggies. Year ’round veggies and I assume you know Succulents Gardens in Castroville ? Sorry about your loss and hope the garden provides sustenance on many levels. – Saxon

Donna August 24, 2013, 6:58 pm

Oh, the trip sounds so enticing, but no second trip westward for me again this year. I wish, but I already surpassed my travel expenses this year. The winner will have a nice time.

I liked your image of the carved fruit on FB. I do a pumpkin each year and could never even come close to something like that. Too bad they don’t last longer. They are kinda like the flowers that they represent in that respect. I like heirloom veggies, but I guess I have been lucky with those I grew. I had one pink tomato that Cornell Cooperative Extension started from seed which I planted in my garden, and unfortunately, that one was tasteless.

I am very glad you made the one trip and was great to meet you at the Fling! Your experience with the Cornell seed just goes to show why heirlooms are fun, though frustrating when your results don’t equal your expectations. Results vary from garden to garden and by trying something unusual you can get results that exceed expectations. – Saxon

Vidya Sury August 24, 2013, 9:54 pm

Saxon, I am too far away to visit, but I found this post delightful (I love this blog, you know). The photos are stunning – especially the gourds!

I do hope you’ll cover the Exposition in another post. There’s nothing that makes the heart sing more than seeing, touching and experiencing nature’s bounty. In our ancestral home we had a massive garden started by my great grandmother, who seemed to have the ability to grow anything. She had ten green thumbs, I think! The joint family of 25 people or so (three generations) never went vegetable or fruit shopping – the garden yielded more than they could consume. Can you imagine, we had an entire cellar (no refrigerators those days) for storing preserves and a work room for preparing things? :-)

This post brought back those memories. We no longer have the home or the garden – there is a concrete jungle in its place. But I feel lucky to have experienced it, if only for a very short time when I was very young.

Thank you, Saxon. What a wonderful way to begin my Sunday! Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

You bring back memories of “the old ways” when cellars were how many people stored their bounty and learning how to preserve was not only the best way to get through the winter it was the only way to keep the bounty of summer from spoiling.

I see you are of Indian descent . I hope you know the work of Dr. Vandana Shiva who is a Keynote Speaker at the Heirloom Expo. She is a philosopher, scientist, environmental activist, author and eco-feminist – and inspirational speaker. – Saxon

Laura August 25, 2013, 9:20 am

Heirloom are all the forgotten varieties that gave their genetic material to create the few varieties that look good to be sold at market. If we all lost them we won’t be able to rely on that genetic material to increase the genetic diversity of our future crops, which is what makes crop strong and adaptable.

Have you ever seen the graphic of the loss of edible species we suffered in the last century? It is scary to see, and if it weren’t for the people who “obsess” over heirlooms we would keep losing the ugly ducklings that taste the best.
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/07/food-ark/food-variety-graphic

Some people may cash on the term, but growers are the ones who really appreciate them, and we are lucky they do so we can have better tasting food.

I might not be able to go to the show, too much going on, but I had to comment.

Thanks for taking the time to comment Laura, and you bring up a critical point I forgot to mention, that heirlooms provide the genetic diversity to improve other hybrids. – Saxon

Maya Bartolf August 25, 2013, 4:37 pm

I am a flower grower girl who just got her first edible garden box this season and am so obsessed with it! If you had 2 tix available, I would LOVE to attend the Expo as I am a local gal gardening and garden blogging in San Rafael!

Maya – Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you at the Expo, one way or another. Remember as a garden blogger you have another way to win a ticket on my Fan page ;-) – Saxon

Sharon August 25, 2013, 6:09 pm

Hi Saxon,

Although I won’t be able to attend the Exposition this year, I couldn’t resist commenting. Hope you don’t mind. I became interested in heirlooms about 6 years ago when a friend gave me seeds for an heirloom variety of okra that has been grown in this area for generations (Northeast Texas). Even when it gets several inches long and fatter than you can imagine okra getting, it is the most “melt-in-your-mouth” okra we have ever tasted and the only variety I grow. I have shared the seeds with many friends and when I take it to the Farmers Market, I always sell out. That was my initiation into heirlooms. I have found many other varieties that I absolutely love, including the very funky-looking but juicy and delicious Bali tomatoes. But I’ve also had a few disappointments. However, I’m now a seed saver and keep tomato, okra and cucumber seeds to grow year after year. I would love to go sometime, but not this year.

Sharon – your comment is exactly what we want to hear at Gardening Gone Wild. It is great to have a contest to spark a discussion and share ideas. I wish you might return and share that okra variety. My wife loves it but I resist growing it – and might be persuaded to try something new. Though like most heirlooms they tend to do really well in one region and I bet your humidity helps. – Saxon

Elizabeth August 26, 2013, 8:21 am

I would love to go because I am interested in seeing the huge pile of gourds. I would also like to listen to the speakers, who are going to be fantastic this year and I understand they will have examples of heritage livestock (including fowl) and I would like to see these as well.

Elizabeth – Thanks for bringing up reasons other than heirloom veggies to go to the Expo. Besides the livestock exhibit you mentioned the Expo has a flower show, old farm tools exhibit, kitchen crafts, vendors with crafts, herbs, books, clothes, etc. – Saxon

Callie August 26, 2013, 8:36 am

I would love to go to the Heirloom Expo, for the chance to take my Mom and spend the day with her. I work for an organic, non-profit farm in Sacramento and my Mom is a legally blind, avid organic gardener and customer of Baker Creek. We enjoy discussing our common interest in growing, preserving and eating food, and sharing our spoils with our families. It has been a tough year financially for my family as my husband lost his job, so a pair of tickets to do something enjoyable with my Mom would go a long way.
Thanks for your post!

Thanks for stopping by Callie. Sounds like you would be really deserving of a break. Good luck with the tickets. – Saxon

Michelle August 26, 2013, 9:01 am

I have never been to the Expo, it’s just 60 miles south of where I live in Mendocino County. I am an amateur gardener with a passion for growing organic, heirlooms. Currently I am growing several varieties of heirloom tomatoes and squashes. I am thirsty for knowledge, hungry for information because I believe in growing food that will save the planet and kick Monsanto to the curb. I apologize for using so many cliches.

No apologies necessary. Clichés become that for a reason. I don’t think we will ever be rid of the big corporate ag people but an interesting phenomena of the whole organic movement in the past 40 years has been a much bigger acceptance of the economic advantages of more sustainable farming practices for some very big farms, almost always owned by a smart farmer not a corporate conglomerate. As I said in the post, heirlooms appeal to small farmers (and home gardeners) who want to find distinct varieties for their own microclimates. Good luck with the tickets – Saxon

Tracy Holzman August 26, 2013, 9:01 am

Free Art farm is a suburban garden experiment, primarily growing food to create a circle of sustainability. I live in Santa Clara and I really want to travel to the expo, because I want to become better at growing heirlooms and mostly have fun!

Free Art farm sounds great. Come to the Expo to learn about communities that are doing the same thing. It is about a two hour drive from where you are and I hate that folks must spend time in cars to get there. Bring a few friends and good luck. – Saxon

Renee Cook August 26, 2013, 9:03 am

It just so happens that I’ll be visiting San Francisco from Connecticut for a mini vacation that week. My husband has meetings during the day, and so I have some extra time to explore. I would love to go to the Heirloom Expo. I’m the Co-Chair of the local Slow Food chapter in CT(Slow Food Shoreline).

Renee Cook

Renee – With all the other wonderful ways a slow food advocate can spend their time in Northern California, I do hope you take advantage of the Expo. If you can spare a day for the Expo, be sure to take a look at the speakers to see who might be speaking on different days. Good luck – Saxon

Stephanie Essig August 26, 2013, 9:05 am

Bless, I am currently studying horticulture at Merritt College in Oakland, California with the hopes of one day opening my own plant nursery focusing on California natives and organic heirloom food starts. Organic, sustainable gardening is my passion. I’ve been volunteering my time since April installing a raised bed vegetable garden at Community Day School in Oakland, California. The students who attend this school are middle school and high school age and have been expelled from the district for behavior or attendance issues. I am amazed at what working in the garden and being outside with plants and nature does for these children. I’ve been teaching them about the importance of growing their own food about how gmo’s have been engineered. We speak often about the importance of heirloom varieties because of their genetic diversity and they have seen hybrid vigor demonstrated first hand as we planted gmo and heirloom corn varieties side by side as an experiment this summer. I would love to attend the expo this year and document my trip via photo/video and take it back and share with the students. Thanks for your consideration. ~ Stephanie

Stephanie – Thank you for your work with kids. This is how to save the world; and kids who grow up understanding and respecting the natural world and where we get our food are the ones who will protect it. I hope you will be able to go to the Expo and share with your community even if you don’t win the tickets. – Saxon

Cris August 26, 2013, 9:15 am

Now that my hubby and I are retired we’ve begun dedicating more and more of our yard to edibles. We’re not fond of the flavorless grocery store offerings and really don’t want Frankenfood. I even make my furkid’s treats from organics. We live down in the hideously hot Central Valley and are always looking for varieties that can survive on max heat and minimum water…We’d LOVE to attend the Heirloom Expo to explore what varieties are best suited to grow here on the face of the sun (okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little). We’re getting ready to start preparing our winter garden and need some good ideas for tasty fare. Thanks for letting us know about the Expo.

Cris – Thanks for stopping by. Seems like we have stirred up some extra interest in the Expo. You should make time to go even if you don’t win the tickets. Santa Rosa can be almost as hot as the Central Valley but not likely in Sept. Plus you might consider staying overnight and getting to the ocean. Always a treat for Valley folk. – Saxon

Brett August 26, 2013, 9:35 am

I am new to gardening and have been planting heirloom seeds from Baker Creek for the past couple years here in Phoenix. I have had such a tough time with tomatoes as I have been dreaming of loads and loads of them in a bumper crop like in the photo above. I was hoping that I would have so many that I would have to make paste or can all the extras and have them year round.

I would love to go to the Heirloom Expo so that I can talk to expert growers and learn so much more about this new love of mine. I think it would also be so much fun to see all the different varieties of produce and what creative people do with them.

Brett – Phoenix is tough on many vegetable crops. So dang hot. and as to tomatoes I still remember the best I ever had from my father’s garden in Virginia where humidity and warm nights seem to help them. But it is also why it is great to try heirlooms that do well in different climates. – Saxon

Paul Feyereisen August 26, 2013, 10:09 am

Kid in a candy shop. What more can I say? ;) Thanks again for sharing.

Love the comment. What more can can I say? I love candy too … Good luck – Saxon

Jessica Dunton August 26, 2013, 10:28 am

Hi my name is Jessica Dunton and have been wanting to go to the heirloom festivle so I can show my young son and husband some varietys they have never seen before.
I am new to the heirloom scene but not food scene I am a chef. I want to learn as much as I can from the best and sharw my knowledge.
I am starting my own garden and would truly appreciate these tickets.
Thank you ;)

Thanks for stopping by Jessica – The Expo is just the event for you – gardening, kids, cooking. Hope you go even if you don’t win the tickets – Saxon

Joie August 26, 2013, 11:53 am

Hello, I’m interested in attending because I am fairly new to the “real food” movement. I am beginning my own garden to grow my own produce and I would love to go to learn some great tips and also to buy some unique heirloom seeds. I would also take my children because they are very interested in gardening and it’s a great time for them (and for me too! to learn about where food really comes from and what it means to eat healthy as well as eating sustainably.

Taking the kids is a great reason to go. Good luck and thanks for stopping by – Saxon

holly hawkins August 26, 2013, 11:55 am

I’d like to go to the Heirloom Festival so I maybe exposed to new ideas, and be surrounded by like minded food growers! (i had my first vegetable garden last year it did ok, but this years failed terribly). I would simply like to go so I may learn :)

Holly – Food growing is hard. It sounds wonderful and romantic but it is work. However it is good work, beneficial on so many levels, including fun. As you get better, and you surely will if you continue to work, it will become exponentially more rewarding as you persevere, continue to improve your soil, share your experiences with others and learn which veggies do better for you. – Saxon

Cynthia Bond August 26, 2013, 12:42 pm

I have read about the heirloom expo since 2010. I have never been able to make it to the expo. Family finances have not cooperated. I am fascinated by the variety represented and all of the people preserving and sharing information regarding these wonderful heirlooms. I am a gardening novice. I purchased my first seeds, from Baker Creek, last spring. Last year’s drought and heat wave (I live in the Midwest) killed all of my seedlings. This year, my husband and I have had much greater luck. It is like magic, seeing all of the wonderful things coming from the garden. I grew up in a house that defined dinner as – a whopper or big mac. Have always had a problem with obesity and do not want to pass on that legacy. My four year old and 10 month old both love fruits and veggies and the bay loves zucchini sticks from our garden. It is magical, to be able to provide this harvest for them. A visit to the expo would be wonderful, because The farmers are heroes and champions of things that are truly important to our future. :)

Great comment Cynthia. Indeed there is magic in gardening; the kids see it if we do. I suspect your success this year is due more to your experience than improved weather. Keep learning – Saxon

Carla August 26, 2013, 12:53 pm

Thank you so much for this article. The first Expo was a treat for the senses!!!! The smell of fresh veggies were indescribable, the visual displays were enveloping, the presentations, so complete and the hum of conversations inviting & the tasting of the “true” food that danced on the taste buds was amazing !!!!

We shall not forget the Heritage Animals either. What a variety!!!

Last year a scheduling conflict interrupted the plans to attend the Expo. However, this year and a little shuffling of events puts me on track to go.

Thanks again.

Ahh, Carla – you sound as much a promoter as I – one who experienced it and will go back. Thanks for stopping by. – Saxon

Julia August 26, 2013, 1:17 pm

Simply put – more seeds, more seeds, and more seeds. I am going whether or not I get free tickets but free would be a bonus. I have a robust garden and am always looking for new varieties to expand our selection. From the pictures I have seen from last year, this show is one that I don’t want to miss!

The pictures I am showing were two years ago but I know the mountain of gourds is a shoo in to be back. What the photos can’t show are the stimulating conversations around the speakers. Great way to learn. – Saxon

Marlene August 26, 2013, 1:17 pm

Hi, I would like to win the tickets so I can bring my partner, who has Parkinson’s and was involved in helping establish organic standards back in the late 70’s, early 80’s by being on boards and sitting through lots of meetings. I think he would really enjoy it. We are financially challenged farmers on the coast of Mendocino Co.

Good luck Marlene. I know the hard work and skeptical looks that came with being at the forefront to the organic movement. I hope you had a chance to meet Alan Chadwick at the Garden Project in Covelo on the late 70’s. Ahh, were Chadwick around today to see how far we have come. – Saxon

Barbara Framm August 26, 2013, 3:32 pm

Well, let’s see…I have been two years in a row to the Heirloom Festival (last year I volunteered) — I was initially drawn because I knew that Vandana Shiva would be speaking; I never ever get tired of hearing her speak, and was not disappointed at the Heirloom Festival, when she spoke in her powerful and magnificently informed way to a full auditorium.
But I was also bowled over by the other exhibitions and speakers and musical offerings of the Exhibition, and I wouldn’t miss it for anything this year. Free tickets would be much appreciated – as I’d rather spend my time looking at everything this year- that I possibly missed last year when I volunteered – (tho that was also a good experience, and I would do it again).
Thanks for considering me: I think what you are doing is incredibly vital and important for the future of our world, our earth. I am again excited that Vandana will be featured this year — I think she didn’t make it last year due to other commitments, if I recall correctly.

I too remember her speaking in 2011 and know she will get standing ovations. Thanks for your work as a volunteer. These events can’t run well without you. – Saxon

John August 26, 2013, 4:01 pm

I came from Australia to attend this show. I am bringing my 5 children, and wife to attend. Wether I win tix or not it is a good thing that people get involved and attend. We plan on travelling the several hundred miles to attend. One of the reasons I came is I am a big spender with BCH Seed Co. and am taking my seed purchases back home with me. This show will be a treat for the mind and eyes. Packed and ready to go is my motto.

Fantastic John ! You get to have a winter vacation with the family, eh ? and get seed ready for spring planting! Good luck with the tickets – Saxon

Russell Logan August 26, 2013, 6:14 pm

Saxon, My wife and I moved to southern Oregon from Alaska last Oct. We’ve been amazed to live in a climate where things are green instead of white. She has always liked to grow things but “up north” its a very short season.
We planted as much as possible non-hybreds. Some plants are not well labeled but we’re trying.
Long term goal is being self sufficient, have spent hours looking at catalogs trying to choose which seed to order. As you have commented, every one is jumping on the band wagon of heirlooms. I have wanted to visit the Petaluma site, first to see all the amazing plants, second I applaud the huge amount of effort put on a exposition.
Look forward to seeing the Expo.
Thanks Rus

Alaska does have a short season but grows some of the biggest vegetables around, since the days are so long in summer. I have been amazed by photos I have seen of cabbages, and greens.
Do note that all vegetables we grow, including heirlooms are hybrids. There is increasing interest in wild food and foraging but most heirlooms too were a result of plant selection and back crossing. The problem with many modern hybrids is not just they are bred for commercial purposes other than taste but they are often F1 hybrids which means seed that is saved from these plants will not yield the same plant, forcing the grower to order more the next year. – Saxon

Luciana Miranda August 26, 2013, 7:32 pm

I have never attended this show, but I really, really want to. I am gearing up to buy my very first home, and I want to have a yard with a garden. I am on a breast cancer prevention mission for myself… my mother was diagnosed at 45, and I am 43… her mother died of it, and my aunt died of it. I started juicing and feel great, but now I want to amp things up by growing my own food, and I want to grow things that no one else does. I’m a gourmand as well, and would relish the thought of having a garden full of exotic things to pick and prepare and enjoy… not only is growing your own food like paying yourself money, but the sheer joy of going outside to my own space, to pick something perfectly ripe and ready, and to prepare something creatively out of my own imagination and desire for taste and enjoyment, well, that would be heaven. I want to learn about planing and everything so I can have this for myself, and to share with those I love. PLEASE give me free tickets!!! :)

Luciana – begging gives you no special advantage for the drawing, but I sure am impressed by your enthusiasm. As you gear up for your first garden, go slow. Start with things that are relatively easy. Look at your neighbor’s and local farmer’s market and learn to grow what you know CAN be grown in your climate. Be careful of exotic things no one else is growing when you begin, you are asking for failure. – Saxon

Sabrina August 26, 2013, 8:31 pm

I would love a chance to go! This is my first year gardening and I am having so much fun, having a lot of success and making a lot of mistakes in the garden as well; which is all part of the learning process! I love growing my own fruits and vegetables and I look forward to teaching my daughter the importance of healthy living. I have just started learning and implementing the importance of growing heirloom produce and saving seeds so If I get the chance to go to the festival it will be such a great opportunity because there is so much more for me to discover! Thank you so much for this article and hopefully I will get to go to my first Heirloom Expo!

Sabrina – Success and failure are part of every gardener’s story for as all long as they garden. Hopefully the failures teach for success and that only pushes us to discover new things. The Expo is great for this because there are so many folks who have been on this path of discovery longer than us. Being open to learning is a great start, you would be a deserving winner. Good luck – Saxon

jennifer becker August 26, 2013, 8:49 pm

I would love to be able to attend this year and catch some of the talks, pet the sheep (I love sheep!), and purchase more seeds for my garden. I was able to go last year and took a day off of work to do it. Last year I loved listening to a talk on growing fruit trees, the Vandana Shiva talk (sad she was stuck in Japan), and listen to Sandor Katz who I purchased books from (I already had one at home) and had him sign. Fangirling over the fermentation guru was so much fun. I would like to investigate taking my students on a field trip in following years if I can go this year. I teach second grade.

Hooray for teachers ! (I am married to one…). Fermentation sure is getting popular isn’t it ? Another great reason to go to the Expo. Good luck – Saxon

claire August 26, 2013, 9:03 pm

oh to see the beauty in all that is unique and different in this place. colors attach themselves to the eyes and shapes and smells linger. what is this heaven that I dream of? where could there be such a place that my soul could feed freely and it’s appetite be sated?wonderous it is that the future can be seen in the present!

Claire – I like the poetry of your words. I do hope they are intended for the Heirlooom Expo… – Saxon

Michelle August 27, 2013, 1:40 pm

I was raised on a large tradtional cattle ranch/farm. I remember being about 10 years old out in our pasture picking and eating the wild strawberries that were sooo delicious! When I brought some to the house for the rest of the family my dad was extremely angry with me. Turns out he had just sprayed everything with heavy chemicals and I ended up getting sick from it.
How silly right? Here I am enjoying the fruits of nature not knowing it had been horribly poisoned! That was a pretty strong impression on a young girl. I thought my dad was awful for ruining perfectly good strawberries! Of course now I know it was just part of the culture and he really didn’t know any better or was never taught to care by his parents…unfortunate.
I have been planting and raising my own organic personal garden now for about 7 years. I hardly even have a grocery bill in the summer! There is nothing more relaxing to me than being out in my garden caring for my food! I started ordering heirloom seeds from the Gettles’ catalog 2 years ago and of course heard about the Heirloom Festival through that. I would absolutely love to go to it!
My dream is to expand into a small organic farm that can provide a local, fresh source of organic foods for the community. A harvest what you buy type of operation. It’s taking some planning but I’ll get there. I would love to go get some different ideas of how to implement this from the speakers and vendors at the show.
Living in Idaho and working full time makes it a bit difficult to get there, but I am determined this year. I’ve convinced my mom and my partner to come with me to share the cost of travel, getting tickets to it would be amazing!

Michelle – you sound very committed and the Expo is a great place to learn. You can drive from Boise in one long day (I have). Hope you can make it happen, and good luck – Saxon

Kevin Gay August 27, 2013, 4:37 pm

Saxon, thanks for the e-mail. I am a lover of Heirloom Fruits and Vegetables. I did attend the first Heirloom Festival and plan to attend again this year, free tickets or not. :0) I am just about finished with my Horticulture and Landscape Design degree and have a great passion for growing and designing edible gardens. I grow over 100 tomato plants a year of about 50 heirloom varieties, 250 sq ft of 9 varieties of heirloom garlic among my other heirloom fruit and vegi’s and have many varieties of heirloom apple and pear which I grafted on to my espaliered trees. Eating healthy and incredibly tasty food is one of the many joys in life. Working with these plants is equally enjoyable to me. I can’t wait to pick up some new varieties of seeds. I hope I run into you at the festival. It will be a great one.

Kind regards,
Kevin

Kevin – Thanks for stopping by GGW. Wow do you ever have an intensively planted garden. and with all that garlic and tomatoes I bet you make a mean salsa. Is you garden ever on the Common Grounds tour ? I will be at the Expo on Wed. hope we connect. – Saxon

Britney Johnson August 30, 2013, 8:39 am

Hi Saxon,

I really wanted to attend the Heirloom exposition since last year! My brother loves expos like that. Sadly, I’m not available on that schedules. Also, I’m far from Santa Rosa, California. Someday, I might visit that wonderful event. Thanks for sharing! :-D

Britney – Thanks for dropping by. Maybe I will have tickets for next year… Saxon

Saxon Holt August 30, 2013, 11:01 am

Carla – You are the lucky winner ! I will e-mail you separately at the e-mail address associated with your post to get your mailing address. Please respond promptly confirming you can actually get to the Expo. Thanks for participating – Saxon

Saxon Holt August 30, 2013, 11:05 am

Thanks to all who commented. I was truly surprised at the turnout and delighted to see all the great reasons to go. If Carla (picked totally at random) can not make it I have two backups (Joie then Holly). I hope many of you will go anyway. Have fun !