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Heirloom Garden Show August 28

  CAMPTON HILLS, IL:     A chance to learn how to save seeds will be offered at the 27th annual Heirloom Garden Show Sunday, August 28th from 11am – 4pm. The show highlights the importance of preserving genetic diversity in the very plants that we rely on for food, medicine, and enjoyment.

       The great gap in the public’s understanding of where their food comes from includes the lack of awareness that seed must be saved from one crop year to the next. Even first time visitors to the show belatedly realize that this year’s crop may not have reached maturity and only in late fall will the drying and processing of seeds begin. Since humans first began planting seed to grow food, every year seed had to be carefully set aside, properly stored and protected from insects and animals to insure a spring’s planting.

         Victoria Nowicki who plans to attend the show, has founded a seed-lending library in Downers Grove.  She has partnered up with a group of dedicated seed lovers and they have been actively spreading the word about the importance of saving seeds from our heirloom and open-pollinated seeds for the future security of our food supply.  Visitors can learn about saving seeds at her booth and seeds will be offered for free. 

      Other exhibitors will have produce, seed or both and will explain the characteristics of the plants that they grow. The museum will also feature its antique flower garden and a patch of very rare potatoes. Potatoes that had been domesticated by the native peoples of South and Central America were brought by the explorers back to Europe. Easy to grow and very nutritious, potatoes became a significant crop for many.  When a fungal infection struck the potato crops of Europe in the 1840s, many people died of famine and disease. It uprooted lives as many also immigrated to the United States.  The cup and lumper potatoes of this era were almost completely wiped out. The museum was given six seed potatoes of each type over seven years ago and the museum has been increasing their numbers. Last year’s wet June prevented their planting until July so the 2016 season was crucial to build the numbers back up for seed potatoes. Once dug, the potatoes must be “hardened off” by being placed in the sun for a day, any dirt brushed away and then stored in a dark and dry, cool place. Come January, the potatoes should be examined for “eyes” or sprouts developing and carefully removed. That way any early growth in storage is prevented allowing for April or later planting. Moving the potato patch each year helps cut down on the risk of disease.       

     The 2016 season of a moderate late spring and early summer consisting of cool days, warmer days and well timed rains has resulted in very lush growth of the antique flower garden. Planted 1 week earlier than normal in May, starting from seed sowed in rows, some varieties such as balsam are a foot taller than usual. Four o’clocks have appeared in various places as seed from previous years came up on their own. Though no love lies bleeding with its long maroon racemes was planted this year, a magnificent specimen has reached 4 feet in height. If there are no severe winds it should survive to the weekend’s show.

     Any last minute exhibitors are welcome to have a table at the show. There are no fees for exhibitors. Tours of the 1846 restored inn and of the museum’s demonstration prairie plot will also be given There is a $6 donation for adults and $3 for children 12 years and younger.

     Garfield Farm Museum is five miles west of Geneva, IL off IL Route 38 on Garfield Road. The 374 acre museum is supported by donations and is the only surviving historically intact former 1840’s Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored as an 1840’s working farm museum.  For information contact the museum at 630-584-8485 or