First stop, the Tomato Tasting -- which was just opening to attendees. For $5, anyone who wanted to could come up and try 20 different varieties of heirloom and culinary tomatoes.
The difference? Heirloom ‘maters are those that were here a century ago -- and they’re disappearing, sadly enough. It’s estimated that 75% of the original Arkansas heirloom varieties may be gone.
Culinary tomatoes are newer varieties, some of which have been specially cultivated to taste or grow in a certain way.
The folks from Post Winery had set up with their wines and juices and were offering grapevine starters for $15.
Some growers offered heritage varieties of produce, such as squash and eggplants and tomatoes and peaches.
There were professional hoes for sale (I had no idea there was a professional variety of garden hoe, did you?) Willow Springs Market Garden offered soaps and garlic and radishes, while Hocott’s Garden Center showed off great plants and lots of garden soil and fertilizer varieties.
The classes were held in the Teaching Barn, which has this great “dirty” classroom with a cement floor that can be sprayed clean after use. That makes it great to use for a gardening lecture space. Best part? The air conditioning, of course!
The day was rather hot, but that wasn’t keeping people away. Dozens of people were spread out in groups here and there, checking out the farmstead and the gardens.
I did check out the rows upon rows of tomato varietals while I was in that section of the garden. Looks like the start of a beautiful season.
In addition to the traditional gardens and melon patch, there’s also a vineyard and orchard in the Heritage Farmstead. There’s a lot more information about it that the WRI website can explain far better than I can!
WRI website. Adena also mentioned some of the fabulous specials that Heather whips up… one day specials that suit a whim and that are also really, really good. I have to find my way up for a night with the hubster to enjoy this mountaintop jewel.
The River Rock Grill operates as a private club, which means it’s one place you can actually find a full bar on the mountain. Several people mentioned to me the peach daiquiri, which apparently is constructed over 24 hours. I passed this time, mostly because I was on assignment, but it sure was tempting.
One of these days I have to get back up there, though… and maybe that’ll be a good day to talk about the Arkansas Rockefeller, and his big farm in the sky… well, close to it.