Heritage Harvest Festival 2017

Reader Contribution by Cindy Conner and Homeplace Earth
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On September 8 and 9, 2017 I will be participating in the Heritage Harvest Festival held at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home near Charlottesville, VA. It is a celebration of food, sustainable agriculture, and the preservation of heritage plants. Visitors can learn about our Virginia history, and more importantly, learn how we can make use of that history to move forward as a sustainable society. There will be exhibits, speakers, vendors, and food trucks (including beer) up on the mountain in Thomas Jefferson’s backyard.

This is the 10th year I have been a speaker at the festival. My programs always have to do with sustainable gardening–growing food, seeds, and cover crops. This year my topic is From Seed to Garment: Cotton and Flax/Linen in Your Garden and I will be talking about growing fiber and making it into clothes. Monticello has been adding more exhibits to tell the story of the slave families on the plantation and that is as it should be. Mr. Jefferson added textile production to Monticello’s operations in order to produce clothing for his worker population. That exhibit should open in 2018. However, production of clothing from seed to garment is not something that has to be relegated to the past and my talk will give you information to bring that skill into your life now. Learn more at Homeplace Earth.

Also coming up near me is Field Days of the Past, which is the following weekend. This is the place to see a good tractor pull. This event began as a celebration of old steam engines and you will find a working saw mill there, as well as a sorghum press in operation with a gasoline powered engine. Not everything is about engines, however. My friend Jan Thomas will be there with her flax brake and homegrown flax, demonstrating how to turn flax into linen. I will join her for a while on Friday, September 15.

Festivals and fairs are good places to be exposed to new-to-you ideas and broaden your horizons, so to speak. Mother Earth News now has fairs in six locations around the country. Coming up September 15-17 is the Fair at Seven Springs, PA. Attending a Mother Earth News Fair is a good opportunity to meet and learn from people who have been out there testing the limits of what is possible. You might already be familiar with some of them from the books they have written. Coincidentally, that same weekend, in nearby Stahlstown, is the annual Flax Scutching Festival where you can see the whole flax-to-linen process demonstrated.

Take a look around your community and I am sure you will find some sort of festival or fair to visit. This is the season for fiber festivals, by the way. Often it is the connections you make with others at these events that make your day special. Take the time to listen to the speakers and interact with the exhibitors and vendors. It always amazes me how far people travel to attend the Heritage Harvest Festival or a Mother Earth News Fair. They tell me they made it their vacation destination. Learning new things is good for your heart, your mind, and your soul, especially when it takes you out of our comfort zone. 

Cindy Conner is the author of Seed Libraries and Grow a Sustainable Diet and has produced DVDs about garden planning and managing cover crops with hand tools. Learn more about what she is up to at Homeplace Earth.

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