The 8th annual Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello was this past weekend, and it was everything I imagined and more. Josh and I had fun walking the grounds, and we learned so much at the workshops. We were some of the first festival-goers to arrive and also some of the last to leave! Over the course of the day, Josh and I split up for separate workshops (except for So You Want to Become a Beekeeper – we both took this class and learned that bees are very complex insects).
I went to The Best of Fragrance and Flavor, Monticello Herbs & Their Uses, and How-To Basics of Meadow Gardening. We plan to use homegrown herbs in our cooking and also to make our own soaps for the bed and breakfast. I definitely learned about some new herbs and plants to add to my “need to plant in the garden” list. These include Queen of the Meadow (similar scent to Wintergreen), Soapwort (becomes more fragrant at dusk), and Bee Balm (a spicy aromatic that works well in tea).
We’ve been planning to create a wildflower meadow at Ridgeside, so the How-To Basics of Meadow Gardening was great for me. I learned about natural ways of creating a meadow – just stop mowing. Easy peasy. We’ve done that to a front section of the property, and it looks pretty. You just need to mow the meadow once a year in early Spring. I also learned about enhancing meadows with perennial flowers so that the meadow is about 50% grasses and 50% flowers. Some great ideas for our future meadow include Swamp Milkweed, Purple Top Grass, Bee Balm, Goldenrod, and Shenandoah Switch Grass.
Josh attended Fruit Tree Basics, Small-Scale Poultry Flock, and The Sustainable Farm Lifestyle. He learned about North American apple trees from expert Tom Burford, a fifth-generation grower. We have several apple trees at Ridgeside (they are maybe around 25 years old), and we want to make sure we’re caring for them the best we can! We’d also like to raise chickens, so Josh took a class about housing, pasturing, and feeding them, and he learned about different breeds of chicken such as Australorp, Buckeye, and Faverolle. In The Sustainable Farm Lifestyle workshop, he got great ideas like planting cover crops to discourage weeds and add nutrients to the soil and like how to make a natural fertilizer using compost tea.
Josh and I both love learning about gardening and farming, and we hope that things like an orchard, wildflower meadow, and chickens will make our future bed and breakfast a unique place to stay. We look forward to sharing these experiences with everyone!