Join us at the National Heirloom Expo!

Smart Gardener was very fortunate to be part of the first Heirloom Exposition in 2011. Even with Baker Creek‘s history of putting on events like this back in Missouri, I could tell by the materials, the ads, the vendors and the speaker list, this was not going to be a regular “trade show” or even “county fair”. This was going to be something very different.

The night before the show opened, after we had finished setting up our booth, we walked over to the large space reserved for displaying produce. As we entered the hall we found ourselves gasping as we stood in front of a towering pyramid made up of every kind of  squash you can imagine — big, little, crooked, round, yellow, orange, white, green and blue. Many pictures have been taken of this amazing collection, and throughout the three days it came to represent the bounty, creativity and delight the Exposition stood for in its first year.

For us, the three days were a wonderful mixture of meeting new people, talking vegetable gardening, running off to get a freshly scooped ice cream cone or finding time to sit for a while to hear a speaker or listen to some music. What stood out the most and consistently over those three days was this overwhelming sense of pride, happiness and hope we all had and shared as a community coming together to collaborate and celebrate. We had come from around the country (and around the world) to celebrate life and the affirmation of it through our foodshed – unique seeds, fruits, animals and foods that are all part of the cycle. I was struck by how empowering it felt to be around this many truly happy people, and for three whole days no less.

I had an aha moment while talking with an older couple. They told me their children had recently moved out of the house but they were still going to grow as big a vegetable garden as they ever had. I asked why. Oh, they said, so we can give most of it away to our local senior center! It made such perfect sense on so many levels – our gardens are about who we are and sharing food from that garden is a joyful gift.

Our team from Smart Gardener will be there again this year, soaking it all up and becoming even more committed to our goal of helping people to simply grow their own food. I’m pretty sure this year will be a bit more crowded and even a bit more wondrous. I am also pleased to announce I will be speaking this year. If you’re attending the expo, I hope you will come hear my talk about using technology to support and build local foodshed.

It’s not hard to envision a time when it will be a necessity to return to being our own food producers. How can we use technologyintelligently to get there faster and make it easier? How can we integrate home food production into our busy lives? What are some of the new ways technology can support our participation with others in our local foodshed?

We have a lot of work right ahead of us fighting the good anti-GMO fight.  This Heirloom Exposition is the perfect venue to engage and energize ourselves. Many thanks to Baker Creek for giving us such a glorious, unified opportunity.

 

We’re excited about attending the 2012 National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, CA, September 11 – 13!  Our founder Kristee Rosendahl will be speaking about the benefits of using digital tools in support of local foodsheds. And to help our fans get excited, we’re giving away loads of goodies over on our Facebook page! In addition to our daily giveaways of Smart Add Ons and Smart Gardener market bags, on September 10, two lucky gardeners will win a three-day pass to the expo!

We love heirlooms!

We love heirlooms!

What are heirlooms?
It’s a question we get a lot. Jere Gettle of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company has a perfect explanation:

“Basically, an Heirloom seed is one that has been passed down through families and is usually considered to be over 50 years old. Some varieties even date back to Thomas Jefferson’s garden and beyond.”

Unlike hybrid and GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds, which often have problems reproducing true to type, Heirloom seeds can be saved and replanted, year after year. Which is how they have been handed down over the generations.

Prior to the industrialization of agriculture, a much wider variety of plants were grown by farmers and gardeners. Regional differences developed over decades, in response to varying climate, soil, and cultural preferences. Unfortunately, many modern crops come from mega-farms, where they are grown in large, monocultures — hundreds of acres of the same plant. Where heirloom gardeners choose varieties to meet personal preference, industrial farmers choose varieties based on the ability to be mechanically harvested, shipped across country, and remain unblemished.

Why grow heirlooms?
There are several reasons to grown heirloom seeds. Not the least of which is protecting biodiversity. Remember the Irish potato famine in the 1840s? That’s a prime example of the dangers of relying too heavily on a single plant species. Since the Irish farmers were growing one particular variety of potato, which turned out to be susceptible to a type of potato blight that wound up wiping out their crops for years. If the farmers had grown several different types of potatoes, they likely would have had several varieties that were resistant to the blight that they could have used.

In addition to biodiversity, though, heirlooms vegetables and fruits are often more flavorful than hybrid and GMO plants. Think of a supermarket tomato compared with a tomato from your grandma’s garden. There’s no comparison! In fact, heirloom tomatoes are probably the single crop that has done the most for bringing awareness to the benefits of saving heirloom plants in the first place. Once they started showing up in restaurants and at farmers markets, word got out about how much better they were. Now you can get heirloom seeds for every plant imaginable, from asparagus to zucchini, and everything in between.

 

We’re excited about attending the 2012 National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, CA, September 11 – 13!  Our founder Kristee Rosendahl will be speaking about the benefits of using digital tools in support of local foodsheds. And to help our fans get excited, we’re giving away loads of goodies over on our Facebook page! In addition to our daily giveaways of Smart Add Ons and Smart Gardener market bags, on September 10, two lucky gardeners will win a three-day pass to the expo!

Show us your mom garden!

Show us your mom garden!

When I was growing up in the South, I thought it was some kind of tradition for Mothers Day where adult children visited their mothers and built them a garden. See, in my family, that’s what it felt like. In early May, we’d pile in the car and visit my Granny. On Saturday, my uncles would get good and dirty in the yard, clearing out the winter growth and get it all tilled up and ready for planting.

As an adult, I realize this isn’t nearly as common as I’d thought. Oh, I’m sure there are still great kids who spend a weekend getting their mother’s garden ready for planting. But I also think it’s because younger and younger moms are doing more gardening. And it’s no surprise. Increasing uncertainty around food safety and the homestead/DIY movement catching on, it’s no wonder more households are growing their own veggies and fruits.

Mothers Day Giveaway:
To celebrate all the Gardening Moms out there, we’re having a special Mothers Day gardening giveaway. It’s super easy to enter! Just show us your garden, and you can win a whole bundle of goodies to get your garden growing in the right direction:

The New Food Garden, signed by Frank Tozer himself,
and chock full of great info!

 

A $25 gift certificate for Peaceful Valley,
for all the seeds you’ll need!

 

All our Smart Add OnsShape, Succession, and Shade, Note,
Archived Gardens, and Calendar
, plus Herbs and Berries,
a $15 value!


To enter, show us your garden layout:

Share your garden on the Smart Gardener site. Just click the “share” tab at the very top, to the right of the name of your garden.

That’ll bring up a window where you can make a note about your garden, add photos, add tags, and set whether it’s private or public.

To make sure you’re registered in the contest:

1 entry: You can upload a screen shot of your garden to our Facebook page. Make sure you include your name and the name of your garden.

1 entry: Tweet us the link to your garden @smartgardener1, make sure to include the name of your garden.

1 entry: Reply to this blog post with the link to your garden, your name, and your garden’s name.

Extra credit:

5 entries: Share a link to your own blog showing off your garden layout on this blog, our Facebook page, or twitter.

Drawing:

All the entries will be placed in a spreadsheet and assigned a unique number. One winner will be chosen by random using random.org. The drawing will be held Sunday, May 13, at 6 pm Pacific. The winner will be announced as soon as he or she is notified.

So, get started sharing!
And good luck!