T. J. The First Foodie
A few years back I went to see what type of garden our third President, Thomas Jefferson, had created to establish himself as the “Founding Foodie”.
Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello
by David Proctor
November 2, 2023
Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine Published Weekly
I went to the annual Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello.
I looked at the information that was available to see just what went on at an event like this and it was amazing how many vendors and speakers were lined up to present topics from fermentation to seed swapping and of course the Monticello garden.
I started out by walking through the garden.
I was amazed at the restoration of this 1000-foot-long garden with its 330 varieties of vegetables.
The garden had fallen into disrepair after Thomas Jefferson died.
The land had been sold to pay off debts and the garden went by the wayside.
The garden’s restoration has been possible in part due to Thomas Jefferson’s extensive records that he kept in his garden.
The garden is an amazing thing to witness, especially with the backdrop of the mountains and hillsides.
From the garden, I strolled through the vendors and up to the large tents by the house, which had the heirloom tomato tasting.
I don’t think I have seen so many varieties of tomatoes in my life.
Everyone that I tasted, tasted great.
The next tent had different vendors with cheese, jelly, chocolates, Pawpaw tasting, (the largest edible fruit native to the US), and Kombucha.
“Kombucha is a fermented tea, made from a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).
Naturally effervescent and served cold, it contains probiotics, amino acids, and active enzymes.”
I saw in one tent a seed swap going on.
The people at this location were very intent on exchanging and or finding new seed varieties.
I was out of my league here so I left.
Joel Salatin, from Polyface Farm, was one of the speakers on the main stage and gave an interesting point of view of the good and the bad of Thomas Jefferson.
All in all, this has been a fascinating trip and an amazing learning experience to witness firsthand the history of Monticello and the culinary diversity that Thomas Jefferson had created.
Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying “The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.”
This may not be your normal garden, but it has inspired many to create and experiment with plants and to find useful plants for our culture.
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A nonprofit organization out of Decorah, Iowa
“Is to conserve and promote America’s culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.
“Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.” Historic Gardens. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2023.
“Our Mission.” Seed Savers Exchange. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2023.