San Diego Hydroponics & Organics is proud to have attended the third annual National Heirloom Exposition, held in Santa Rosa, CA at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Hosted by our favorite seed company, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co, the Expo was a great opportunity to meet new vendors, find new seed companies and learn about heirloom horticulture. The expo took place Tuesday, September 10th through Thursday, September 12th. The fairground was packed with heirloom produce and tons of like-minded individuals. The Expo included a Produce Hall, a Vendor Hall, two Speaking Halls as well as a beautiful outdoor garden area that displayed many examples of Bio Dynamic gardening. A separate livestock area included activities on Wednesday especially tailored for kids. The food court featured local Farm-to-Market food trucks and stands.
For heirloom seed collectors, the event was like nothing else we’ve ever seen! We counted at least 25 heirloom seed vendors on site. Our two new favorite seed companies would be Wild Boar Farms with their beautiful collection of colorful striped tomatoes, and Kitazawa Seeds because of their expansive collection of heirloom vegetables from Asia. On the last day of the festival there was an awesome seed trade and barter event held, with no money trading hands, just seeds traded for seeds, teaching attendees the best kind of seed ethics possible. With the declining total number of uniquely available heirloom fruit and vegetable seeds, it was refreshing to see a culture that’s embracing the genetic diversity of heirloom seed collecting. Attendees were actively cultivating an atmosphere where seed-saving education, professional networking, and good old-fashioned seed bartering is encouraged. In the upcoming 2014 season, Baker Creek will introduce a “Master Seed Catalog”. This publication will be the largest Heirloom seed catalog ever to be printed and will be a one-stop printed resource to every seed available.
Education was a central theme of the heirloom festival. One hall was for independent speakers and the other hall featured speakers sponsored by the companies who supported the show. Diverse educational topics included; “Seed Saving,” “Compost & Mulch,” “Seaweeds for Food & Health,” “Farming for Chef’s,” “Fermentation for Farming,” “Growing Food in Small Spaces,” “Bio-Dynamic Composting,” and many more. The second hall was reserved for talks centered on Biodynamics (which is the combination of growing plants and animals together), it also featured more intense and technical talks ranging from the many aspects of Biodynamics, from pollinating Bee’s to Wildflowers and Compost.
Biodynamics was the hot term and philosophy of the show, and for good reason. At the center of a Biodynamic farm is the recycling of materials out of the life of the farm itself rather than importing fertilizers from the outside, organic or not. Any system on a farm that utilizes the inherent organic materials on-site and creates loops of reusing, re-purposing and recycling is using the principles of Biodynamics. Here in San Diego two of the most common animals that can join with your home garden are chickens and, thanks to recent legislation, Pygmy goats. Besides getting fresh eggs that are higher in vitamins and beta carotene than store bought eggs, chickens also provide manure that’s rich in nitrogen. Many chicken owners simply move their coup across lawns or garden every two weeks to spread the manure in a simple and effective manner. Pygmy goats provide milk, till dirt labor-free, and just like chickens their manure can be used as fertilizer or compost. Local rules and regulations for both inside the city of San Diego can be found here for Chickens, and here for Pymgy Goats. As we know from our experience with aquaponics, the biodiversity of the system is organized so that the waste product of one part becomes the revitalizing energy for another. This results in an increase in the capacity for self-renewal and ultimately makes the garden or farm more sustainable.
Lastly, before our time was up at the Heirloom Expo, we found several new vendors we’re excited to bring back to the shelves of San Diego Hydroponics & Organics. This includes a new greenhouse company with products ranging from hobby greenhouses all the way up to full scale high tunnels with automated fans, louvres, and automated blackout materials which are used to create any light cycle a farmer wants for year round harvesting. Another product we found soon to be on the shelves is HB-101 from Japan. HB-101 is made from extremely concentrated oils derived from Japanese Cypress, Pines and Cedars and can be used as a seed soak, mixed into a regular nutrient recipe as a plant vitalizer, or even as a foliar spray for insect control. Come into San Diego Hydroponics today for a look at some of the new products and catalogs we’ve found to make next year the best Season yet for your backyard and indoor gardening, whether it’s small scale, hobby or professional!