The Adelaide Botanic Gardens are holding their first Heirloom Festival in April, celebrating the delights of food that is fresh, natural and home grown. An heirloom plant or heirloom seed variety is an old variety that is maintained by gardeners and farmers because of its special benefits. These plants have stood the test of time and been found worthy of preservation.
Many varieties of fruit and vegetables found on supermarket shelves nowadays have been bred for their appearance, storage longevity, or ease of transport. By contrast heirloom varieties are more often bred for their flavour than for their appearance. They are keenly sought after by many home gardeners, but are seldom used for commercial production.
The Heirloom Festival is a joint effort by the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and Diggers Club, who operate the Diggers Garden Shop. The Diggers Club have sold heirloom seeds for years to gardeners in Adelaide, allowing us to cultivate unusual heirloom plants. Purple Russian tomatoes, a seven colour mix of heirloom capsicums, and Broad Ripple Yellow Currant tomatoes are just some of the unusual traditional seeds available from the Diggers Club.
The Diggers Club Operates the Diggers Garden Shop at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens
But the Heirloom Festival has much wider appeal than just home gardeners. Anyone with a keen interest in quality food will want to come and experience the fun things to do over the festival weekend. A Farmer's Market with market stalls will sell tantalisingly tasty fresh fruit and vegetables, and also baked goods. Try free tastings of heirloom varieties of produce such as tomatoes, eggplant and beetroot. The festival will have plenty of free activities for kids to keep the whole family happy.
Among the free things to do is a series of workshops. Learn how to grow vegetables in autumn, or how to preserve your bountiful crop. Discover the secret of growing garlic successfully, find out the benefits of being a bee keeper, and whether looking after chickens is a chore.
The Diggers Club are also holding heirloom mastercalsses - Talking Heirlooms and Heritage Apples. There is a charge for both of these, and you must pre-book online.
Bring your children along to the Heirloom Festival too, there are free activities for kids too. Let them get up close to a cow, and feed it if they are brave. They can learn how butter is made, or play old school games including badminton, croquet and quoits.
There's free live music in the gardens if you want to relax, or take a free heirloom guided tour of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. There's something for everybody at the festival.
The Heirloom Festival takes place on the weekend of April 9-10 between 10am and 4pm. Find more about the festival on this web page, or on the Adelaide Botanic Gardens Facebook page. Just remember, if you want to take a Diggers Club Masterclass you must book first here. Do book early to avoid disappointment, as seats are limited.