A Message of Hope in Difficult Times – The National Heirloom Exposition Continues to Inspire

Westervelt Pumpkin
Mr. Westervelt & his 1,725 pound winner of the Giant Pumpkin Prize. Photo courtesy Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Farmers, ranchers, gardeners, chefs, and foodies abounded. As is the case every year, they roamed the exhibit halls with deliberation, their frequent “oohs” and “ahhhs” of wonder drifting up to the rafters at the taste of an heirloom tomato or the sight of a massive tower of cucurbits or a 1,725 pound pumpkin. That was Mr. Westervelt’s grand prize winner in the Giant Pumpkin Contest.

Accompanied by Petaluma Grange Lecturer Connie Madden (also of Oasis Community Farm), the first thing we noticed upon our arrival at this year’s Expo was that we were just in time for the seed swap, which seemed appropriate.

The seed swap was a simple affair – a long row of tables lined up next to one of the speaker halls, the tables covered with hundreds of varieties of heirloom flowers, pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumbers and most other kinds of produce I could think of. The tables were crowded with dozens of folks browsing the little seed packets, dropping off a couple of one variety or another that they no longer needed, while picking up a few they could use. No money changed hands – just trade.

The swap had the excited air of a child’s treasure hunt, with seed swappers of all ages as the giddy children, expectantly combing through the packets in search of unique treasures.

Always excitable when it comes to talking seed, I imagined Jere Gettle would be quite pleased to see so many people inspired to grow their own, be they farmer or grower of flowers on an apartment balcony.


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