“planning” for the Heirloom Expo

September 10. Back in February we heard about the National Heirloom Exposition being planned for Santa Rosa September 13-14-15. It sounded folksy and fun and we offered to participate. The Baker Creek Seed Company sponsors said great, and that was the last we thought about it until three weeks ago when suddenly everyone we met was planning to go, along with all their friends and family. A glance at the Heirloom Expo website revealed an event shaping up to be so huge it could mark a cultural shift point into that vital, lively, sane future we’ve all been dreaming about. Or at least the expo’s confluence with the full moon, not to mention the tenth anniversary of 9-11, gives it that weighty feel. We’d better start planning our booth, I thought, and I called to see what size space we were allotted. “As big as you want” was the answer, and that’s when life got significantly busier around here.

We invited some of our friends and neighbors to participate in our exhibit, and on Monday we’ll be in Santa Rosa at the fairground’s Hall of Flowers setting up an indoor space bigger than our strawbale house.  Our partners are Harvest Moon Farms with their lavender, Roots to Fruits nursery with lots of interesting medicinal and edible plants, and artist/carpenter Dennis Curl who is providing a gorgeous entry gate and essential building expertise. Lin wrote stories about all the principals and is at this moment working on a giant scarecrow with an eggplant nose and sunflower branch arms. Sharon Jokela converted our writing and photos into elegant display panels – as well as designing a Laughing Frog Farm t-shirt that will debut at the expo. My favorite part so far has been arranging all the details into an architectural plan that relies heavily on straw bales and hog panels. My hope is that the exhibit will communicate some of the joy and wonder we feel living in partnership with plants (and poultry – there’s a lot of fun chicken info too).

Meanwhile summer is blazing toward fall, 101 degrees at midday, zero humidity, grasses crunchy underfoot. Then night comes, sooner every day, and the temperature drops to 42. How do the garden plants manage that extreme daily shift? Some, like the squash, struggle in the heat, wilting daily. Others, like the tomatoes unfortunately, are slowed down by the cold nights. We have yet to harvest a ripe tomato from many of our plants; they’re full of big green fruit. Tera of squash tortilla fame has elaborated on her squash chips, making a ruffle-cut lemon-seasoned batch that I’ve hidden away so it can be rediscovered in winter. She’s also helping out with watering so Lin and I can focus more hours of the day on the expo – and she’ll be here to care for it all when we’re in Santa Rosa next week.