Monday, September 17, 2012

A visit to the Monticello Heritage Harvest Festival

Ol' T.J.'s house proper

   Yesterday, Jeff and I headed up the road to Charlottesville, Va for a rare chance to rub elbows with like minded people at the 6th annual Monticello Heritage Harvest Festival. Thomas Jefferson's legacy in food, wine, and gardening provided the backdrop for this celebration, hosted by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. There were lectures, workshops, tours, vendors, and exhibitions of everything from heirloom vegetables, cheese making, bee keeping, native plant gardening, composting, seed saving, farm animals, medicinal herbs, and on and on. Frankly, it was way to much to see and do in one day, especially with many of the lectures we were interested in overlapping each other, but we did manage to have a great time and by the time we got home, our heads were spinning with information overload. It was an extravaganza for anyone who considers themselves a gardener, locavore, wanna-be farmer, or just environmentally conscious. It was hard to remember to take pictures, but here's a few to get you interested at least in checking it out for yourself in person next year, we'll be there!

One of the tasting tents, heirloom vegetables, fruits, wine, and cheese. Yes, they were pouring wine at 10:00 am! Gotta love Charlottesville!

Here were the Master Gardeners, Central Va Tree Stewards, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, (all awesome folks!) and some others which I forget...

Look at the girth on that tree, a willow oak I think. If you're a lover a trees, Monticello is worth a visit for them alone.

It was a great opportunity to taste some veggies before deciding what to plant next year and discover new favorites.

No festival around here would be complete without old timey music.

As I'm sure you all know, chickens are all the rage now, and there was all kinds of information for everyone from beginner to advanced. I have to admit, they are awfully tempting, maybe someday...

I wanted to pet her, but this girl was either shy or stubborn, or both. Milk cows have such sweet eyes.

One of my main goals was learning a little about bee-keeping, since I think I might like to have a hive or two someday. Unfortunately the one lecture on bee-keeping that we attended, given by the head bee-keeper at Monticello, was more geared towards the typical bee-keeper who treats the bees like a commodity. I'm more interested in biodynamic/holistic bee-keeping, and was pleased to find these fine folks also at the festival from Ted's Last Stand Farm in Louisa County. I wish they had given the lecture instead, since their philosophies are more in line with ours.

Although it's the end of summer and things tended to look a bit crispy around the edges, the vegetable gardens were spectacular.  Thomas Jefferson is widely known as America's first "foodie".

More of the vegetable terraces, which sit above the orchards on a south facing slope.

Looking down towards the orchards and berry garden.

Although the veggie tasting tent was nice, by far the best thing I ate was a donut (actually two) from Carpe Donut. life changing donut, fried fresh, rolled in cinnamon sugar. Truly a life altering experience.

Pure heaven, seriously worth a trip to Charlottesville just for this, and I'm not kidding. Drive up, load up on donuts, then head over to Monticello for a walkabout tour, they're open year 'round.

On our way to one of the lectures, we passed the cemetary that contained Thomas Jefferson's grave and others, presumably important people. We had no idea Jeff (my husband) already had a plot waiting for him!


  1. THAT would be a nice happening to visit! Have a nice week.

  2. Oh man, that looks awesome! Wish I could have been there. I'm really interested in beekeeping..,and donuts also :)

  3. I missed Monticello on my visit there in `97 ,to my regret. We came fairly close, but I could not talk my Dad and brother into going out of our way to do so on a driving trip. We were heading home from Gettysburg and they were ready to get back. I think ole Tom would have enjoyed the show ! Thanks for the post !

  4. Monticello is definitely on my to do list. This looks like it was a great event. Did you tour inside the house too?