Meeting of the Minds: National Heirloom Expo

Find like minded individuals with a passion for heirloom seeds and produce at the National Heirloom Expo.

| Summer 2012

The Second Annual National Heirloom Exposition is shaping up to be even bigger and better than the first. With home gardeners, farmers, school groups, and the general public all playing key roles in the Expo, it’s once again being called the “World’s Fair” of the heirloom movement.

The first annual National Heirloom Exposition, held last September at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, was a huge success. Jere Gettle, proprietor of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, began with the simple idea of showcasing heirloom foods with a festival. After opening the Seed Bank in Petaluma, California, in 2010, he’s spent considerable time in the area and realized there was a wealth of like-minded people in that agricultural area of the country. Teaming up with Seed Bank manager Paul Wallace, the two began shaping up that first idea into what became the largest heirloom exposition ever held in the United States.

Visitors to the 2011 Expo were treated to educational speakers throughout the three days. Keynote speakers included the world-renowned Dr. Vandana Shiva of India, one of the leaders in the pure food movement; Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology; and internationally recognized chef and author, Alice Waters. Attendees further learned about seed saving, home gardening, market gardening, food politics, and farming from more than 70 acclaimed experts.

The 2011 event was picked up by local, state and national media, creating attention before, during, and after the exposition. Such top names as The Martha Stewart Show even attended and taped a segment for broadcast.  

This year, many seed companies, farmers, and schools are participating and supplying produce to help create the largest-ever display of heirloom produce. Growers are being contracted to grow specifically for the event. Produce will be trucked in from all parts of the country. Event organizers expect to have a display containing more than 4,000 varieties of heirlooms.  

This year's speaker line up will include some of the same excellent speakers, as well as many others who were unavailable last year. One presenter new to the National Heirloom Expo is Percy Schmeiser, a long time Saskatchewan farmer and anti-GMO activist who was sued by Monsanto after his Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto's Roundup Ready Canola. Monsanto sued Schmeiser, demanding that he pay a technology fee of $15 per acre because he was benefitting from their technology. Schmeiser fought back and launched a $10 million lawsuit against Monsanto, accusing the company of libel, trespass, and contamination of his fields with Roundup Ready. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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