FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 12, 2019
Media Contact: Jennifer A. Lyon, Communications Officer


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Thomas Jefferson, our most epicurean president and a revolutionary gardener, championed vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation, and sustainable agriculture. The 13th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival, hosted by Monticello in partnership with Seed Savers Exchange and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, celebrates Jefferson’s legacy, and the culinary contributions of Monticello’s enslaved gardeners and chefs, including James Hemings, brother of Sally Hemings, and Edith Fossett. The festival attracts top food, farm and garden speakers, and features roughly 25 programs on sustainable farming, farm-to-table cuisine and the preservation of heritage plants.

The 2019 Heritage Harvest Festival will be held on Saturday, September 21, at Monticello, on the historic West Lawn.

In the spotlight this year is Monticello Farm Table – an innovative café now open in David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center. Monticello Farm Table serves enticing dishes incorporating heirloom fruits and vegetables grown in Monticello’s own gardens in addition to other fresh, sustainably raised, locally sourced ingredients.

Iconic American chef, activist and author Alice Waters is this year’s honorary festival co-chair. Waters has cultivated a close relationship with Monticello and helped shape and guide the organization’s commitment to promoting agricultural stewardship and good food in Monticello Farm Table. Waters has said that Jefferson influenced her more than any other figure in American history because he imagined a “future nation of small farmers growing delicious food.” Robert LaValva, a food systems consultant who has worked with Waters on other projects, advised Monticello on the reference menu and new café concept.

“We are delighted to welcome Alice Waters back to the mountaintop,’ said Leslie Greene Bowman, Monticello’s president. “Thanks to her insights and advocacy, Monticello Farm Table menus showcase the very best of Charlottesville’s local food suppliers. Guests can now savor and appreciate the unique blend of European and African influences that shaped Monticello’s legendary cuisine.”

The festival draws world-class chefs, authors, farmers and gardeners—including Michael Twitty, John Coykendall, Ian Redshaw, Jeremiah Langhorne, Haile Thomas, Dan Pashman, Ira Wallace, and many others. Heritage Harvest Festival has been named one of the best “harvest festivals” in the country by Food & Wine magazine and

Festival attendees will learn about organic gardening, seed-saving, and southern recipes while they explore Jefferson’s 1,000-foot-long vegetable garden and ornamental mountaintop landscape.  Guests will taste hundreds of varieties of heirloom tomatoes, melons and peppers as well as local artisanal jams, honey and chocolates. Guests can watch celebrity chef demos (then taste their creations!), pet heritage breeds of animals, or learn how to revive their own kitchen gardens at the Old-Timey Seed Swap. 

Tickets are available at along with a full list of festival offerings. You can buy online and save.

NOTE: Staff and presenter interview opportunities, as well as priority media parking, available with RSVP. Please RSVP to Jennifer Lyon, by 12:00 p.m. on Friday, September 20, 2019.

About The Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to preserve Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today, the foundation seeks to bring history forward into national and global dialogues by engaging audiences with Jefferson’s world and ideas and inviting them to experience the power of place at Monticello. Monticello is recognized as a National Historic Landmark, a United Nations World Heritage Site and a Site of Conscience. As a private, nonprofit organization, the foundation’s regular operating budget does not receive ongoing government support to fund its twofold mission of preservation and education.