Just north of Decorah, Iowa is the 800+ acre Heritage Farm. The farm is nestled among century old pines, babbling creeks and dramatic limestone bluffs. It is also home to Seed Savers Exchange. The farm is a real working farm with literally thousands of heirloom garden varieties being permanently maintained there.
We visited the farm while returning home from the Great River Road Tour with Harley Grandma. http://livedan330.com/2013/09/26/we-did-it/ It is always a very interesting stop if you are in the Decorah area. It was the end of the growing season on this visit but still the gardens had much to offer. We even saw some of the Ancient White Park Cattle on this visit.
The farm is certified organic and includes Preservation Gardens, Historic Orchards and an Ancient WhitePark Cattle herd.
Preservation Gardens are open for public viewing. Visitors can see thousands of heirloom varieties being preserved. We spent quite a bit of time strolling through the gardens and taking photographs of some of the unusual varieties that you just don’t see anywhere else.
The Historic Orchard has hundreds of 19th century apple varieties on display. Keep in mind that the majority of apple varieties that were around in 1900 are now extinct. Seed Savers Exchange obtained all of the pre 1900 varieties that exist today (around 700 are left) from private collections and government stores. At Heritage Farm these trees have been developed into a diverse public orchard. More than 100 breeding lines of old grapes can also be found at the Historic Orchard.
Heritage Farm is home to around 80 of the 800 surviving Ancient White Park Cattle herd. This breed roamed the British Isles over two thousand years ago.
After an hour or so wandering through the gardens it was time for Harley Grandma and I to hit the road again. Still on motorcycles we needed to get back home before dark and it was still a couple hours of riding.
We highly recommend that you visit Heritage Farm and see for yourself the great work they do there. Pick up a few seeds while you are there as well. It’s never to early to start planning for next year.