National Heirloom Exhibition, the Worlds Pure Food Fair

During the same busy week, the second annual National Heirloom Exhibition, the World’s Pure Food Fair came to Santa Rosa.  Held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, over 10,000 people attended this spectacular exhibition!  This “not-for-profit” event attracted interest among home growers, chefs, farmers, school groups, the national media, and the general public, where all funds generated above the costs go to school gardens and other food programs.  It was such a privilege to take part in this event and I was amazed with the display of passion and true dedication.  The picture from the main exhibition hall exemplifies the creativity of the folks involved.  And the one hundred speakers and over two hundred vendors were outstanding and brilliant.

I especially enjoyed my neighbor Bob Cannard’s talk.  Bob has been farming sustainably for over 30 years.  In 1972, he started the Sonoma Mission Gardens Nursery, which is still a favorite of locals.  Bob has also taught horticulture at the Santa Rosa Junior College.  He is a keynote speaker at industry gatherings and an Acres USA honoree.  His talk at the Heirloom Exhibition inspired the entire crowd, creating a desire in everyone to go out and become a new age farmer.

Carlo Patrini also spoke at the exhibition and I feel that his quote really speaks to the importance and centrality of issues regarding agriculture today and the relationship between man and earth in regards to food.  Carlo stated, “Agriculture isn’t just another sector of industry like iron and steel, say, but something much more complex than that.  In reality, it is the fruit of a holistic vision that takes in ‘sacredness’ of food, respect for the environment, sociality, conviviality, and culture.”

It was thrilling to see a score of both new and old heirloom seed companies represented, with special thanks to Paul Wallace, convener and founder of the Petaluma Seed Bank.  Seed company representatives shared their rich knowledge through workshops over the course of the weekend.  I attended a few of the talks and learned some helpful tips, such as six tips for saving seed.  These six tips are 1) know your seed, 2) save information, not just seed, 3) watch for cross-pollination, 4) consider plant populations – numbers count, 5) choose ideal plants for ideal seed, and 6) make it last.  To learn more about the history and benefits of seed programs, visit

In addition to the fabulous speakers and intriguing workshops presented by the various seed companies, the different vendors provided valuable information regarding methods and resources for furthering the “pure food” and local food movement.  Tara Firma Farms really stood out and appears to be making a difference through their motto of providing healthy food, healing the land, growing young farms, and having a lot of fun!  For more information on Tara Firma Farms visit their website at

I also really enjoyed Demeter’s Biodynamic Garden and Lounge, an interactive and experiential Biodynamic® showcase featuring engaging gardens, educational classes, photography exhibits and much more! It reinforced the importance of Biodynamic® farming and gardening, which integrates an organic approach with all the rest of nature’s terrestrial and celestial energies, viewing the garden and farm as a self-contained, self-sustaining, living being. To learn more about Demeter’s Biodynamic Gardening, go to  The two films, Dirt! The Movie and the iconic Food Inc. exposed insightful facts concerning our natural resources, economy, and nation’s food industry.  I feel these are must see films for anyone interested in creating a more sustainable future for our society. In all, the entire event, from its educational aspects to its contests and exhibit highlights, was truly outstanding and made a lasting impression.  To find out more, contact

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