Heirloom Expo 2011

World's Fair of Deliciousness comes to Santa Rosa Sept. 13, 14, 15

The seeds of change are being sewn right here in Sonoma County. And it starts with, well, some seeds.

The National Heirloom Exposition, billed as “The World’s Fair of the Heirloom Industry” opens its doors to the eager gardeners, chefs, farmers and food celebs and enthusiasts Sept. 13, 14 and 15, 2011 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

More than 200 vendors and proponents of the pure food movement will be organized inside Grace Pavillion, including BiteClub’s Fermentation Station — a gathering of local fermenters including Revive Kombucha, Alexander Valley Gourmet, fermenting educator Marley Peifer, Natto from Japan Traditional Foods, Sheana Davis of Epicurean Connection, the Beverage People and Veggie Queen Jill Nussinow. Got some fermented foods you want to showcase at our booth? Lemme know!

So what’s it all about? Many of us are familiar with the explosion of heirloom fruits and vegetables — like all those unusually shaped, but delicious-tasting tomatoes — that are flooding into high end markets and farm stands. Unlike the industrialized produce that has been bred for a long-shelf life and convenient shipping, these are easily-bruised, imperfectly shaped, sometimes hard-to-grow eats that our grandparents would remember. The stuff they reminisce about when they say, “I remember when a strawberry tasted like a strawberry, and not a cardboard box.”

Over the years, many of the historic seeds of idiosyncratic breeds were all but lost to history. But through the popularization of seed saving companies like Baker Creek Seed and it’s West Coast outpost, The Petaluma Seed Bank, old fashioned produce is once again gracing our tables.

The Heirloom Expo brings together a star lineup of speakers, vendors and produce exhibits in the county that’s been one of the most eager advocates for real food — Sonoma County. On the roster, Jeffrey Smith (a GMO expert), Vandana Shiva (af ounder of a movement to protect biodiversity), Alice Waters, Bob Cannard (Green String Farm), Dan Smith (French Garden), Jere Gettle (founder Baker Creek Seeds), Chef Jeremy Fox, Veggie Queen Jill Nussinow, a number of journalists, authors and farmers, as well as gigantic displays of produce, a giant pumpkin contest and more.

Wednesday is Kid’s Day, where children can participate in games, crafts and old-fashioned fun (potato sack races!). The event will also include local food trucks, a poultry exhibition and chef demonstrations. Suffice to say, most of Sonoma County’s food scene will be there.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $25 for a three day pass. Children under 17 area free. More details at TheHeirloomExpo.com.