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Ken B September 7, 2014 12:24 PM

Heritage Harvest Festival, Charlottesville, VA, Sept 2015
The Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello is coming up, Sept 12-13 -- [URL][/URL]

There'll be a big tomato (and peppers and melons and herbs) tasting on Saturday -- [URL][/URL] -- we (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange) will be bringing at least 50 tomato varieties, and if anyone would like to bring their own, use the email address at the link above to let us know! (Or post here, and I'll let the tomato tasting folks know.)

Several Tomatoville folks will be presenting, ones I know of = Craig LeHoullier's giving tomato talks on Friday and Saturday, Ira Wallace is giving alliums and general gardening talks on Friday and Saturday, Rodger Winn's giving seed saving talks on Friday and Saturday, and I'm giving a talk Saturday on fall/winter vegetables. (Craig's got a talk at the same time as mine -- see his if you get the chance, he's got wonderful photos!!)

Saturday I'll mostly be hanging out at the SESE booth when I'm not at my talk, stop by if you want to say hi! Rodger'll be over at the Seed Swap that's happening on Saturday morning. Ira will be hustling and bustling about *everywhere* but probably she'll mostly be around the tomato tasting, and I bet Craig will be stopping by the tomato tasting for a while...

linzelu100 September 7, 2014 01:24 PM

We are going and very excited!

Ken B September 15, 2014 06:37 AM

Hope you were able to make it! It rained a bit in the morning, and that kept attendance down some, but the sun came out later on, and folks seemed to enjoy themselves.

Ken B July 1, 2015 11:45 AM

This year's is Fri Sept 11th-Sat Sept 12th! -- [URL=""][/URL]

The tomato tasting will be on Saturday, Sept 12th. Should be 75-100 varieties this year. After Craig's book came out this winter, Ira had the idea of wanting to spotlight tomatoes mentioned in Craig's book. So besides some 20-30 varieties that SESE already carries that were mentioned in Craig's book, Craig sent us seedstock for another 10-15 varieties we don't currently offer, so we'll also have ones like Ferris Wheel, Green Giant, Mexico Midget, Aker's West Virginia, Nepal, etc. at the tasting this year.

(We do our main tomato planting later so that our tomato plants will be in better shape for this September tasting event, and a few other September tastings, so we actually didn't put out our seedlings til early June -- this way they hold up better in the July heat and are still fine and healthy in September.)

There's also some special tomato event on Thursday afternoon featuring Craig and Ira and Nan Chase -- [URL=""][/URL]

Ken B September 10, 2015 01:56 PM

Festival weekend is here! Forecast has been going back and forth, currently it's forecast to be dry all day tomorrow, then some chance of rain Saturday morning, with greater chance in the afternoon.

If anyone wants to say hi, I'll be at the Southern Exposure booth most of the day, with a break at 1 PM to give a talk on fall/winter vegetable gardening.

We've got lots of tomatoes! Our plants have been getting more diseases the last week or so, but they're still in good enough shape that we'll have a ton to bring to the tasting...

Ken B September 14, 2015 10:22 AM

... and ended up being some rain in the morning, but then dry the rest of the day, so not actually as bad as the forecast had looked, but did mean for lower turnout than usual. Still, went pretty well!

We bring a lot of tomatoes that we're trialing to the tomato tasting, and one of the ways we find out how much people like them is when they go over to the seed racks and look and ask if we've got them... So the most popular trial varieties this year were all cherry tomatoes -- Mexico Midget and 3 different black cherry types (Black Cherry, Chocolate Cherry, and Negro Azteca). I think I like Negro Azteca the best of the 3 black cherries we grew this year.

fonseca September 16, 2015 11:13 PM

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I thoroughly enjoyed the festival! This was my first time going since I moved to Raleigh. Great job on the tasting. I found several varieties new to me that I look forward to growing next year.

I spent a lot of time waiting to look for seeds, and it was difficult to tell which varieties didn't have seeds available, or if a careless peruser had put a packet in the wrong place and covered them up.

My favorite by far was the Pisa Date. Fantastic little tomato with lots of sweetness and full tomato flavor. Bought several packs. My brother does not like raw tomatoes, so even he was surprised that he liked this one.

Runners up:

-Chocolate cherry: very similar to black cherry in flavor and appearance, which I grew this year and it will return for sure. I would have purchased seeds if they were available.

-Tropic: acceptable (above average) flavor, advertized as highly disease-resistant so I want to find seeds. Did not see them on the rack.

-Mountain Magic: Good flavor and size for salads. Was told seeds were available but did not see any.

-Bisigano #2: Excellent flavor and texture. If this is a paste tomato, it's the first good one I've ever had. Did not see seeds. It wants to be my pizza sauce.

-Dr. Carolyn: I grew this one years ago and enjoyed it, but didn't save seeds. Did not see seeds on the rack.

-Cherokee Green: I have grown Cherokee Purple for 9 years in a row. I had no idea how different the green cultivar was in flavor. Has a lot of bite, very acidic taste but delicious. I think it would make a great salsa. Bought seeds!

Matt's Wild Cherry: I thought this one would taste like Mexico Midget, but Matt's has a sweeter, more subtle flavor. Bought seeds.

There were a lot of other fantastic tomatoes, but these were the ones that were new to me that I really liked.

Finally, the Doe Hill pepper was so delicious I had to go back and try it again. Did not see seeds, but I will grow this next year for sure. It was sweet with a very complex flavor. This will replace Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes Pepper in my garden if it yields better. It is that good.

nctomatoman September 21, 2015 09:41 AM

It was a really good event, though attendance was down a bit from previous years (my feeling - and Ira and I discussed this a fair bit - happening on the same weekend as the big heirloom festival in California, and very iffy weather with heat, humidity and thunderstorms prevalent, or at least threatening). All three of my workshops and book signings were fun and went well, Sue and I got to stay in a really cool airbnb - and as always, walking around Monticello is simply incredibly inspiring for gardeners.

MrsJustice September 21, 2015 12:41 PM

[QUOTE=nctomatoman;505953]It was a really good event, though attendance was down a bit from previous years (my feeling - and Ira and I discussed this a fair bit - happening on the same weekend as the big heirloom festival in California, and very iffy weather with heat, humidity and thunderstorms prevalent, or at least threatening). All three of my workshops and book signings were fun and went well, Sue and I got to stay in a really cool airbnb - and as always, walking around Monticello is simply incredibly inspiring for gardeners.[/QUOTE]

If I know you was going to be there I would have asked my Husband to take me. I love your New Book and it came very fast. I think many of us farmers in Virginia was saving our crops from the hot summer heat. I would Love to Dance and Sing with my Historical Tomatoes and Vegetables. I want to be there next year, Amen!!

My weekend performance dancing with my fruits and Vegetables, I was truly praying for my 'Moons and Stars Watermelon Crop to Survive'.

Farmer Joyce Beggs

Ken B September 25, 2015 02:55 PM

hi fonseca -- belated reply, sorry, our rural internet's been acting up and gotten me way behind -- thanks for the notes!!

-- Red Pisa Date -- glad you liked! I think it's a neat one.

-- Chocolate Cherry -- it's really interesting looking at our trial patch, all 3 black cherry varieties look really similar as far as color/fruit size/growth/disease resistance, but they've all got slightly different flavor. I like Negro Azteca the best, but they're all pretty good!

-- We did have Tropic VFN and Dr. Carolyn's on the seed rack, but guess they got lost in the shuffle. We've had folks suggest that we make sure to alphabetize them, and also had folks suggest that we make clearer which varieties we carry and which ones we're trialing.

-- We don't carry Mountain Magic -- the person who told you probably got it mixed up with Mountain Princess, which we did have that day -- Fedco and other folks do carry it. I really like it, good flavor and good disease resistance.

-- We've got some Bisignano #2 seeds, it'll be in the next catalog, will put it online in the next few weeks.

-- And glad you liked Doe Hill! Didn't bring seeds for it since I didn't know that another farm was going to be bringing fruits for the tasting.

Ken B September 8, 2016 09:08 AM

Belated note that HHF is coming up this weekend -- [URL][/URL] -- weather looks nice for it -- Craig and Rodger are both giving talks on Friday and Saturday, and there's the usual big tomato tasting on Saturday.

Some interesting tomatoes we'll have out for tasting = dwarfs (Rosella Purple, Dwarf Wild Fred, Summer Sweet Gold, Dwarf Emerald Giant, and Geranium Kiss -- the last one bred by Alan Kapuler). Rutgers 250. Black Centiflor, Yellow Centiflor, and Red Centiflor (all cherries bred by Alan Kapuler). Some more of Craig's favorite heirlooms that we don't already carry (Nepal, Ferris Wheel, Polish).

Generally, should be nice big tasting, at least 100 tomatoes, 15-20 sweet peppers, some melons, bunch of different herbs... lot of work, but looking forward to!!

nctomatoman September 8, 2016 09:09 AM

Howdy Ken - thanks for posting this....glad to see the dwarfs (how do folks there like them?)

We are about to hit the road - see you on Fri or Sat!

Ken B September 18, 2016 09:24 AM

This year's HHF was great -- turned out to be super hot, got up to 95, and even under the tents, I was sweating by 10 AM. But, nice and sunny, and folks seemed to enjoy themselves.

I was looking forward to the tomato tasting as a chance to try all our tomatoes... but was super busy all day, and by 5 PM when I could finally catch a breath, I just couldn't muster the energy/enthusiasm to go through and try 100 tomatoes. So, I'm making a point to snack on some different varieties from our patch every day.

Some favorites from the tastings (based on the number of seed packets folks bought):
Cherry -- Amy's Apricot, Matt's Wild Cherry, Coyote
Slicing -- Cherokee Purple, Garden Peach, Green Zebra, Mortgage Lifter VFN

nctomatoman September 18, 2016 09:40 AM

Yes indeed - great festival! So, so, so hot - Sue and I were thrilled to see such a large crowd - loved doing my two workshops. I never even made it to the tasting tent was all quite a blur.

Any comments on the dwarf tomatoes that you had there?

Are you going to be at the CFSA in Durham, Ken, in November?

MrsJustice September 19, 2016 03:04 PM

Hello everyone.

I will always miss everyone. Operating a Farm and Business with Dyslexia takes all of my time:yes:., Amen:love:.

Ken B May 12, 2017 12:27 PM

Heritage Harvest Festival, Charlottesville, VA, Sept 2017
This year I'm remembering to post about this earlier!

This year's festival will be Saturday, September 9 -- [url][/url] -- with paid workshops + some tours + tastings on Friday, September 8.

For Saturday's tasting, we'll have our usual 75-100 different tomatoes, plus peppers, melons, herbs, etc. I'll post a list later this summer of some interesting varieties that we'll be bringing. To be able to have our tomatoes in good shape for the festival, we plant out our trials patch later, so until we make the final map for the tomato trials patch, I'm not quite sure what we'll be planting!

I'll be giving my usual talk on fall/winter gardening, looks like this year they've got me scheduled to do it on Friday.

jtjmartin May 12, 2017 01:39 PM

Noted! Thanks.

fonseca May 15, 2017 04:10 PM

Thanks for the update Ken. I could not attend last year's fest, but I have already put in time off for this year!

My extended family is planning our annual "gathering" around the festival, as it is good for young kids thanks to the animals and activities, and those interested more in history than gardening have options too. My grandmother, who is pushing 90, will even be there. I have her set up with some earthboxes on her deck, so she can still grow tomatoes even though she needs a wheelchair. Her plants include red pisa date and dwarf cherokee green, both of which I grew last year after trying at the 2015 festival, and were fantastic. I must have picked 300 tomatoes from one red pisa date plant.

I also have a dozen Doe Hill plants rapidly growing, purchased from SESE this year, fingers crossed for productivity. Sweet and hot pepper varieties at the tasting should sell some seeds too. ;-)

This festival is definitely worth checking out! No better way to find new tomato varieties than by trying a bunch side-by-side.

nctomatoman May 15, 2017 04:14 PM

Hi Ken - I was so pleased to be invited to speak again, but had to decline - Sue and I are badly needing a we've cleared our autumn - a National Park or two beckons. Have a great festival - it is always a highlight of my year!

Ken B May 26, 2017 03:05 PM

fonseca -- neat! If we haven't already met, hope we get a chance to say hi to each other, I'm usually hanging around the SESE tent during the festival. (Me= tall, scruffy, greying hair.)

Craig -- glad you can grab a vacation! I'm always grateful that Ira's into going to as many talks and fairs and festivals as she does, so that I can just limit myself to the few every year that I do get to and so get to enjoy them for their own sake.

Ken B August 30, 2017 08:00 AM

Here's the list of the tomatoes we should be bringing from our own farm -- this'll probably get supplemented by tomatoes from a few other farms:

[SIZE=2]Abraham Lincoln
Amish Paste
Amy’s Sugar Gem
Arkansas Traveler

Barnes Mountain Pink
Big Kentucky Roma
Big Rainbow
Black Cherry
Bonte Tignet

Cherokee Purple
Costoluto Fiorentino

Don’s Double Delight
Dwarf Emerald Giant
Dwarf Mr. Grand

Eva Purple Ball

Garden Peach
Geranium Kiss
German Johnson
Goldman’s Italian-American
Granny Cantrell’s
Green Giant
Green Grape
Green Zebra

Homestead 24

Illini Star
Isis Candy

Japanese Black Trifele

Kellogg’s Breakfast
Kristina Vatchera

Lillian's Red
Lillian's Yellow Pear
Little Lucky

Matt’s Wild Cherry
Mortgage Lifter Radiator Charlie's
Mortgage Lifter VFN


Old Virginia
Omar's Lebanese
Orange Centiflor
OTV Brandywine

Pear-Shaped Cherry
Peg’s Round Orange
Purple Dog Creek

Red Cherry
Red Cluster Pear Hypertress
Red Pisa Date
Roma VF Virginia Select
Rosella Purple
Rutgers “Original Strain”
Rutgers 250

San Marzano
Striped Roman

Tiger Tom
Tropic VFN
Turkish Ayla

Williams Striped

Yellow Centiflor
Yellow Pear

Ken B September 6, 2017 12:47 PM

Weather's looking nice for Friday and Saturday! Sunny, high of 75 for Friday, high of 74 for Saturday.

Cool weather's been slowing down our tomatoes again, so some of the varieties (esp. the bigger beefsteaks) we won't have many fruits for, so if you're coming, get to the tomato tasting earlier in the morning to be able to try everything!

Ken B September 6, 2017 09:16 PM

Plugs for some tomato folks to see = Rodger Winn's hosting the Seed Swap on Saturday morning, and in the afternoon, Bill Best of Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center in Berea, Kentucky (hosts the seed swap there in October) is giving a talk on Appalachian heirlooms.

Ken B September 11, 2017 02:50 PM

Festival went pretty well! Nice and sunny, and a lot of enthusiastic folks. Haven't heard attendance numbers yet, but it was definitely smaller than last year -- the Monticello folks tried a different thing this year -- not having any special fees for some of the talks, while having the general admission cost more. So less folks, but the ones there seemed happy and enthusiastic, and we kept pretty busy at the Tomato Tasting and the SESE booth.

rdback September 13, 2017 12:34 PM

Good seeing you again Ken. I agree, the festival went well and the weather was fantastic! Rodger and the other seed swappers seemed pretty busy all day. I attended Bill's seminar. He focused on greasy beans and their history, which was interesting.

Looking forward to growing the "Mouse" mellon and attending the festival next year. Best to Ira; hope she's feeling better.

Ken B September 14, 2017 11:55 AM

Ira's been fine, she's still not sure what that was -- dehydration? tiredness? -- she took it more easy the rest of the day, and she's been at her usual busy pace since then. (Today she's in the crew headed up to Pennsylvania for Mother Earth News Fair this weekend!)

Ken B June 28, 2018 01:18 PM

Link to this year's, Fri Sept 21 + Sat Sept 22 -- [URL][/URL]

The tomato tasting'll be on Saturday -- since this year's festival is a bit later, we've got a lot of interesting pepper varieties planted to bring along to supplement the tomatoes in case our tomatoes aren't as prolific by then.

Rodger Winn's hosting the seed swap as usual -- Ira says that besides the usual Saturday seed swap, there'll also be a swap for a few hours on Friday.

Craig LeHoullier's talking this year. The Saturday talks aren't on the website yet, but guessing that's when he'll be speaking!

I'll be doing my usual fall/winter gardening talk, it's on Friday again this year.

Ken B September 16, 2018 10:13 PM

Coming up this week!

Craig's talk will be on Sat from 3-4 PM.

Rodger's hosting seed swaps on Fri (10 AM-noon) and Sat (10 AM-5 PM).

My fall/winter gardening talk is on Fri (noon-1 PM).

Lots of other talks that look interesting! Friday will be my day to get to talks and be more social, then I'll be at the SESE booth all day on Saturday if anyone wants to say hi.

If I get the time, will try to post a list of tomatoes we'll have, but if I don't, it'll generally look like the ones we had at our tomato tasting open house last month -- see posting there!

nctomatoman September 16, 2018 10:17 PM

Looking forward to leaving the endless rain of Florence, Ken and heading for Cville on Friday! Looking forward to reconnecting with you at the event.

nctomatoman October 9, 2018 04:31 PM

Just an awesome time at this event! Great seeing you Ken...and others from Tville and elsewhere!

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