Saturday, September 21, 2013

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

It's been a while since we've taken a field trip so we were due for a good one.  So good in fact that I'm dividing it into two parts.  Schnickelfritz and I traveled down to Mansfield, MO for an overnight trip.  We had to get down there early enough Friday to visit Bakersville -- the home of Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. (open 8-4 M-F and 9-5 Sun).   We kept traveling down this gravel road, certain we were heading to the middle of nowhere.  Perseverance paid off though,  we were still
in the middle of nowhere but surrounded by beautiful flowers, and a hundred Master Gardeners the Missouri Extension Dept. brought down.  I didn't mind browsing the grounds with them, but they took all the seed catalogs before we arrived. 

Bakersville is arranged like a small town--complete with an opry and jail. The mercantile held pottery items and sun bonnets.  There's also a restaurant that serves a vegetarian lunch (11-1) from the harvest on the farm--you make a donation for your meal.  Outside lunch hours, there is a bakery (did I mention the Master Gardeners ate all the cinnamon rolls before us...didn't their mamas teach them to share?)  The apothecary had mason jars of herbs and tea blends for sale.  There were samples in bowls to smell and get a hint of the flavors.

Down the center of town is a garden with more varieties of flowers and vegetables than you can shake a stick at.  See something you like?  Head into the seed store with bin after bin of seeds from around the world lovingly preserved season after season. 

For those not familiar with the term "heirloom seed":  most crops grown today come from hybrids--plants that are cross bred to develop specific traits like resistance to disease.  In the case of food we eat they want the fruit or vegetable to be able to withstand  shipping long distances from farm to store and to look pretty in the store bins.  Often left out of the equation is the excellent taste of the food itself.  Take a look at this table of squash--nothing here is going to win a beauty contest, but the man telling us about them was practically drooling as he shared each one tasted better than the last.

I addition to the plants, there were plenty of farm animals to pet and view -- especially breeds of chickens.  Baker Creek Seeds has been helping the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home (the second half of our field trip) restore the grounds by providing chickens and seeds that Laura herself may have raised.

If you visit Mansfield because you're a Little House fan, a side trip to Bakersville is only 10 miles away and certainly worth your time.  If you're an avid gardener, you may want to plan a trip around one of their festival weekends when they have special speakers and vendors.    The village and festivals are free except for the Spring Planting festival in May.

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