Joel Salatin Inspires at Heritage Harvest Fest

Reader Contribution by Karen Keb
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 Hank and I got back yesterday from Monticello’s
6th annual Heritage Harvest Festival,

 held Saturday near Charlottesville, Va.
We attend a lot of festivals, and they never get old–they just keep getting
better and better with more people participating and engaging the world of
sustainable farming/gardening/living.

Friday night Hank spoke with Alexis Ziegler from the Living Energy Farm on “Sustainable Fossil Fuel Free Farmsteading” in the beautiful
Woodland Pavilion to a full room. What struck me is how many people, young and
old, who are interested, asking really intelligent questions, and wanting to
implement ways to reduce energy consumption and employ animals to help them do

Later that night, we had the distinct pleasure of listening
to Joel Salatin speak, who gave an all-new talk that really got our juices
flowing. He contrasted Thomas Jefferson’s failures in farming to present-day
farming and all the wonderful things we have at our disposal that they didn’t
have back in the 1700s and 1800s–like compost and plastic water pipes. His
take-home point was this: Whatever is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly
first. His hilarious analogy was the image of an infant child struggling to
take its first step–teetering on the edge of a table trying to pull itself up
with all the grandparents and parents around cheering the baby on and cooing
and applauding the effort after the baby crashed back down on the ground on its
diaper. He said that if we were to yell at the baby and say “If that’s the best
you can do, you better just quit walking now!” that would be ridiculous.
Farming, like learning to walk, is a process that must be learned through
trials and error. We can’t quit if one thing doesn’t succeed–the quest for
better ways and more innovative solutions should always be embraced in our
daily lives. That made me feel much better about my utter gardening failures in
Kansas and
gave me the fuel to keep at it and not throw in the towel. Same goes for
organizing the barn.  

Saturday, the festival’s main event, was a melting pot of
activity from demonstrations on 18th century crafts and skills, to heirloom
food tastings (melons, peppers, tomatoes), lectures from experts, chef
demonstrations, and the most exciting vendors from across the country. Ogden
Publications, who was the event’s presenting sponsor, had folks there
representing the magazines and selling subscriptions. GRIT was flying off the
table, as was Mother Earth News, thanks to the affable Heidi Hunt and Brandy

With the beautiful grounds of Monticello
enveloping the event held on the West Lawn in front of Jefferson’s
famed residence, a clear-blue sky overhead, and a crisp fall breeze in the air,
it felt as though there was no better way to spend a September Saturday. Check
out for more info about this event, or better yet, plan to
attend the Mother Earth News Fair this coming weekend in Seven
Springs, Pa., for a similar
vibe–Joel Salatin will be speaking, along with Temple Grandin!