As one of America's Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson helped plant the seeds to grow the country into what it is today. The author of the Declaration of Independence was also passionate about sustainable agriculture, plant experimentation and vegetable cuisine.
To honor the third U.S. President's legacy, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange have partnered together to put on the annual Heritage Harvest Festival at his Monticello estate in Charlottesville, Va. - a two-hour-plus car ride from Washington, D.C.
Educating the public on sustainable living practices is the goal of the event, which is now in its eighth year. The 2014 Heritage Harvest Festival is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 11, through Saturday, Sept. 13.
Guests walk through the gardens at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate — Photo courtesy of Heritage Harvest Festival
Pre-festival activities kick off on Sept. 11, with presentations by edible landscaping expert Rosalind Creasy and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange's Ira Wallace. Participants will be able to sample tasty confections made with locally grown vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs.
More than 35 workshops and lectures will take place throughout the day on Sept. 12 including a walking tour through Jefferson's kitchen garden, a talk on French and early American culinary traditions, a history of seed exchanges and a behind-the-scenes look at Monticello's two vineyards. French Laundry's Culinary Gardener Aaron Keefer will give the keynote presentation in the evening, to be followed by the Chef's Harvest Dinner on Montalto.
Saturday, Sept. 13, is the main event day, featuring something for everyone. Bring your seeds for a swap, sample some tasty beverages in the craft beer garden, let the kids meet farm animals and listen to live music from local musicians.
If you love heirloom tomatoes, stop by the tasting tent, where you may sample more than 100 different varieties. Local chefs and vendors will be doing demonstrations throughout the day, while festival speakers will be signing copies of their books at scheduled times.
Attendees will be able to choose from either free or premium workshops, with topics including year-round gardening, turkey farming, growing a garden to feed your family for $25 or less, a demonstration of craft cider making, the history and process of home canning and herbal medicine at home.
The festival will be held rain or shine and only service dogs are allowed on the property. If you wish to attend the Heritage Harvest Festival and tour the Monticello house, organizers encourage participants to buy a combination ticket, which will save you $10 off the regular price.
With so many things to see and sample at this three-day festival, make sure to arrive as early as you can.