For months I'd been looking forward to attending the Heritage Harvest Festival held annually at Monticello, and two weeks ago my friend Nancy and I left here at 4:30 IN THE MORNING for our weekend away. We chatted all the way up and arrived in time to be the first in line for the shuttle to the Festival.
Turns out, arriving early was genius. We were able to meander through the tasting tent and sample all sorts of tomatoes and watermelons. The line was very long later in the day.
We also took advantage of the seed swap and came home with all sorts of good stuff to grow for next year.
There were ample vendors selling everything from Hickory Syrup to Goat Gyros. I picked up some Heinz Tomato seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and small Zinnia from Landreth.
I also got to meet Pat Foreman, author of "City Chicks". She's coming to speak in Chesapeake next month, and I already have my ticket.
I very much enjoyed my 'premium' tour of the Monticello Garden given by Peter Hatch, who is the retired caretaker of the garden. He is an amazing fount of knowledge, as he has had years of access to the records Jefferson kept regarding the planting and harvesting at Monticello. I can't wait to read his book, "A Rich Spot of Earth": Thomas Jefferson's Revolutionary Garden at Monticello.
Early in the afternoon, I decided that I'd seen everything and asked Nancy if she wanted to venture out to check out The Cheese Shop. (It's like an Amish bulk store). Yup! We found a great farm stand on the way where I picked up an entire bag of Habanero Peppers for a buck for my dad. And I did some serious damage at the Cheese Shop, buying pretzel salt and whole wheat bread flour, organic rice, brown sugar, and lots of other bulk items, many of which are hard to find around here.
We had a heck of a time finding a place to eat dinner. I am NOT a fan of parking in Charlottesville. We ended up at Panera, and then went to Whole Foods to check things out. We're getting one here in VA Beach next month, but I've decided that I can find bulk items cheaper at other places.
After passing out in the most comfortable hotel bed every, we woke the next morning and headed straight to Carter Mountain Orchard, where I had preordered three bushels of apples. The view was amazing, the apple cider donuts really good... but the apple cider slushie was the highlight of our visit.
We meandered home via 460, which took us through small towns with fun antique stores. It also took us through Peanut Country, so we stopped at Adams Country Store in Waverly, Wakefield Peanuts, and The Virginia Diner for a late lunch. The Waldorf Salad with peanut sauce was incredible. This is a dinner I can't wait to recreate at home.
When all was said and done, we had to come home because the car was FULL.
It was a wonderful weekend and I am already looking forward to next year's Festival! I get the same feeling at Monticello that I do at Old Sturbridge Village... completely at peace. It is definitely one of my favorite places ever.