Last weekend, Mr. Lucky and I traveled to beautiful Monitcello in the heart of Virginia for the Heritage Harvest Festival. It all started when we saw a groupon with a discounted ticket price for the festival- and thought that might be cool to go to. It was an absolutely wonderful experience.
We really didn’t know much of anything going into it, except from taking a look at the schedule online. We saw lots of free talks and demonstrations that appealed to us, and liked the overall tone and theme of the event focusing on sustainable farming. There were a number of lectures that you could pay extra for, but I thought they focused more on people who are actually farming and homesteading, so I didn’t even consider attending any of those. There really was plenty going on though, and we never felt any slump besides being tired from running around in the sun all day.
Two things I really wish that I had remembered to do: wear a hat and bring extra water. Most of the vendors had sold out of drinks and many had sold out of food by around 2 PM. I think that there were probably a lot more people there than they had anticipated–although it never felt crowded. The only time I really felt the crowd was when standing in lines for food. We probably waited close to half an hour for a bbq sandwich, and another twenty minutes for a glass of ginger hibiscus tea.
After parking, signing in, and taking the bus over, we explored the grounds. There were several tents set up on the main part of the lawn (pictured above), and many smaller tents with vendors and demonstrations scattered throughout. It felt as though there was a lot of thought into the placement of booths. Everything flowed with lots of space in between. I didn’t take many pictures, but I couldn’t help but take pictures of some of the plantings.
Growing up we had spider plants in our front yard. I would love to get some seeds and plant them in the meadow. Technically, this plant is an annual, but it can self-sow to come back year after year. Can you see in the picture some thin and long pods that seem to dangle from thin strings? Those are the seed pods, and you can collect them before they open up. Of course, I did not touch these plants.
We also saw these huge cockscomb plants- some of the biggest I have ever seen:
The largest plants were about two and a half feet tall. The flowers were about as big as my hand.
Mr. Lucky and I also spent some time wandering through the gardens. We did not take the garden or house tour, so I don’t have much history on it, but they were impressive. Oh and the view!
Did I mention that it was an absolutely perfect day? A view like that is one of the reasons I chose to go to college on that side of the state. Another beautiful view with the orchard and vineyard in view:
We listened to one lecture on “A Journey to a Sustainable Suburban Home.” It was really interesting, but did not really give us much practical advice for starting our own. The big takeaway was just start something! Even if it you just start with containers (and large plastic bins work quite well), plant something. Thankfully, we don’t have an HOA to lay down any rules about what we do with our yard. I also just found out that they’ve passed an ordinance in Fredericksburg (city proper) that residents can have up to two chickens (with a permit) and bees. I think this movement is really catching on…
I was so glad to see so many people there, and everyone seemed genuinely interested in locally grown foods and sustainability. We taste-tested loads of yummy apples, tomatoes, and “historic colonial recipe” chocolate. We ate the best donuts we’ve ever had (also organic!) and saw so many different seeds and plants for sale! Lots of books and authors were there as well. There were a bunch of activities geared towards kids, and a beer garden from a local brewery. The only thing I wish to have seen more of was more vegetable or vegan options to eat. Most of the food vendors carried meat dishes, and no substitutes. There was a donut shop, a pie place, a crepe vendor, and a frozen fruit pop stand. But nothing with really good looking veggie dishes- a little strange I thought. I will say though that the frozen nectarine pop was perfect. :)
If you have any interest in farming, growing your own foods, or just eating more locally- this is a great festival to visit. Anyone in the state of Virginia should make it a destination.