Garden News

The Annual Heirloom Festival

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© Comstock Ferre

Comstock, Ferre & Co., purveyor of heirloom seeds for more than 200 years, will celebrate spring and the planting season with its 4th annual Heirloom Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 25 at 263 Main Street, Old Wethersfield. The festival will be held rain or shine and admission is free.

Visitors will take a step back in time to the simple pleasures of traditional music, time-honored crafts, and farm-fresh food for a fun-filled day for the entire family. Live entertainment will include old time music from ShoreGrass, a Connecticut bluegrass band with a lively mix of early country, gospel and folk songs; the Please and Thank You String Band trio specializing in country music; The Sky Blue Boys from Vermont—Banjo Dan and Willy Lindner—performing a repertoire of wonderful old ballads, parlor songs, heart songs, and sacred numbers; and Wethersfield folk singers Ruth George and her son Nathanael Rocha.

Dancing to traditional music, The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society of New Haven will perform to the driving strains of reels, jigs and strathspeys played on the fiddle, accordion, flute, and drums.


Returning to entertain young and old alike are Stand-Up Chameleon Jackson Gillman, performing Riot in the Garden, where audience members are invited to laugh and learn as they get down and earthy, celebrating the joys of gardening in interactive song, comedy and story, and puppeteer Grian MacGregor of the Ivy Vine Players, presenting her charming puppet characters with personalities portrayed through song and tales.


Image-1A number of nationally and internationally acclaimed speakers will present engaging talks on a wide variety of horticultural, clean food, sustainability and GMO topics. Among the speakers will be Jack Algiere, Four Seasons Farm Director of Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY, presenting Growing a New Generation of Farmers and Seed Savers; Ethnobotanist and Plantsman Lawrence Davis-Hollander, founder and former director of the Eastern Native Seed Conservancy and prior Director of Horticulture at the Berkshire Botanic Garden, and principal of Dandelion Gardening Arts, talking about Growing a Three Sisters (Native American) Garden; Mark Rutkowski, staff farmer and greens manager at Urban Oaks Organic Farm in New Britain, sharing his knowledge on Four Seasons Growing in Greenhouses and High Tunnels; and Nicholas Mancini, an expert fruit and vegetable master gardener and owner of The Organic Gardening Workshop, discussing Starting a Garden the Correct Way.


Also speaking will be Joseph Simcox, botanical explorer and world food plant ecologist who has spent decades traveling the globe, documenting and tasting thousands of edibles. His passion is to bring little known foods to the table to preserve species and varieties that are in danger of extinction. Scott Chaskey, farmer at Quail Hill Farm in New York, poet, educator, and author of the newly published book Seedtime on the history, husbandry, politics, and promise of seeds, will discuss how the story of seeds remains vitally important today as Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs) threaten our food security and the future of traditional agriculture. Brenda Sullivan, owner of Thompson Street Farm, will present an educational program for gardeners who want to start a business in agriculture—Introduction to SPIN (Small Plot Intensive) Farming, and David Forster will discuss soil management.Comstock-2013-0695



In addition, Adam Fuller of A&Z Apiaries will discuss Beekeeping, Then and Now; Connecticut State Representative Philip J. Miller will present the behind-the-scenes story of how Connecticut became the first state to mandate labeling of genetically engineered ingredients; Zen Honeycutt, Founder of Moms Across America, a nationwide coalition of Unstoppable Moms committed to “Empowered Moms, Healthy Kids” will speak about GMOs, Glyphosate and Their Impact on the Health of America; and Wethersfield Naturopathic Doctor Marie Image2Mammone will present What is the Healthy Diet for You!


Rounding out the Festival will be a cooking demonstration by Lucky Lou's Tavern, a live raptor display by Horizon Wings, and vendors selling sustainable products, locally-produced foods products, pottery, woodwork, jewelry, gardening supplies, miniature gardens, and textiles along with demonstrations by traditional artisan potters, candle makers and wood carvers. Seedlings and plants from Comstock, Ferre's own heirloom seeds will also be available for purchase.

Food vendors include Gmonkey—the nation's first vegetarian, eco-friendly food truck, The Whey Station mobile food truck serving a creative menu of gourmet grilled cheese, Pizza for the People, Lucky Lou's of Old Wethersfield, and Chet's Italian Ice.


Comstock, Ferre & Co. specializes in preserving and selling heirloom seeds in the original historic seed company building, established in 1820, in Old Wethersfield, CT. The complex at 263 Main Street, Wethersfield also features a seed museum, classroom space, antiques, and a wide variety of gardening supplies and heirloom plants.

Store hours are from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, and Sundays. Closed on Saturday.; 860-571-6590.


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