Thomas Jefferson championed vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation, and sustainable agriculture. The 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival, hosted by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in partnership with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Seed Savers Exchange celebrates Jefferson’s legacy in a fun, affordable, family-oriented, educational event promoting gardening, sustainability, local food, and the preservation of heritage plants.

The 2016 Heritage Harvest Festival will be held on Saturday, September 10, at Monticello: on the West Lawn, in the vegetable garden, and in the LEED-certified Visitor Center. The venue provides a beautiful showcase for the restored gardens and features the wealth of Monticello’s programs in not just gardening, but also natural history, foodways, and the roles of the entire plantation community.


Participants will enjoy traditional tastings, workshops, hands-on demonstrations, interpretive walks, and a variety of garden tours and exhibits. Experts, including Master Gardeners, come from around the country to share knowledge and volunteer their time to run the festival. Local food, sustainable farming, and a heightened interest in traditional fruits and vegetables have captured the imagination of gardeners and consumers throughout the United States. The Festival celebrates this with tasting workshops, lectures, and demonstrations, as well as a Marketplace with displays and sales of heirloom foods and plants. Cooking demonstrations by some of Charlottesville’s most revered chefs are another popular component of the Festival.

At the heart of the Heritage Harvest Festival are educational programs on seed-saving, botanical medicine, heirloom varieties, sustainable agriculture, organic gardening, edible landscaping, regional cookery, and other aspects of sustainable living. Interpretive tours of the restored Monticello garden, plus specialty tours on natural history and native plants, will take place every hour. Monticello’s restored kitchen will come alive with cooking programs highlighting the little mountain’s cross-cultural legacy.


Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and organizations such as the Piedmont Environmental Council collaborate to offer festival goers samples in the Tasting Tent. These exhibits provide a focal point for festival participants to meet farmers, educators, and non-profits at the center of the local food movement. The Discovery Tent will also include a full day of programming, in addition to popular demonstrations, exhibits, and activities for children. Food vendors will offer a full range of delicious meals and snacks, from locally made jambalaya and barbecue to whole-fruit popsicles and apple cider donuts.


Seed Savers Exchange is a nonprofit located in northeast Iowa that has been dedicated to growing, saving, and sharing heirlooms seeds since 1975.  In addition to stewarding the largest non-governmental heirloom seed collection in the nation, Seed Savers Exchange shares and facilitates a nationwide seed swap called The Exchange between 13,000 members.  Visit us online at seedsavers.org for more information.

The Heritage Harvest Festival is a grassroots, volunteer-oriented event with serious educational goals. Please join us for a meaningful and fun day celebrating sustainable living and the good things that come from the earth.

Past Heritage Harvest Festivals