The Nevada County Fair is now in the books, and this year’s fair was terrific! It was well attended, the weather was great, and it was energizing to see so many (mostly) smiling faces. The marigolds along Gold Path did not disappoint —it is a lovely setting, and really, there was something for everyone.
So “how did you do at the fair?”, a common question for those who entered something into one of thousands of classes of entries. From the looks of it, there were lots of winners. The Northern Mines building housed the beautiful displays of baked goods, fruits and vegetables, preserved foods and honey, bonsai plants, eggs, as well as art and collectables from adults and youth classes. Of course, each year I try to make a habit of seeing which are the winning vegetables, fruits and preserves. The judges (from outside Nevada County) take time to evaluate each entry, and use the California Food & Agricultural Code for definitions and requirements for each classification.
Within the categories considered “agriculture”, fresh vegetables have 12 divisions, including organic varieties. Fruit divisions are classified as “horticultural” entries. Although specific varieties of fruits and vegetables within a class are not listed, the general classification is listed on the winners’ descriptions. For example, a tomato entry may fall into one of several classes – such as “beefsteak”, “medium slicing”, or cherry (small, medium or large). Regardless of the classification of fruit or vegetable, according to the Competition Handbook, the judges are looking for maturity, meaning a stage of ripeness that ensures good flavor or palatability. Other parameters for judging are available in the handbook which may be downloaded online.
And for anyone interested in entering something in the fair next year, the handbook lists all classes available for entry. Next year, the fair will be August 9-13, 2023, and a new handbook will be published well in advance of the fair.
The Master Gardeners tent was also busy over in the Family Farm area with workshops, Little Sprouts flower painting, compost display and gardeners on hand to answer questions. A bonus was being near the beautiful rabbits and chickens and their enthusiastic handlers! It was gratifying to speak to many from our community as well as people from all over the world! One couple from Denmark were very interested in composting, and were studying the compost pile with the display of carbon (browns), and nitrogen (greens). The couple is planning on doing some gardening at their Danish home and indicated interest in getting a compost pile going soon. One local couple stopped by to talk about the success of their garden this year, and some of the vegetables they grew, many of which they purchased from the Master Gardener plant sale.
On the subject of compost, the Master Gardeners are offering a free compost workshop, Saturday, Sept. 10 for “Compost – Good for You, Your Plants and the Earth”, to be presented from 10 a.m. to noon at the Demonstration Garden. Whether you are new to composting or a veteran composter, our goal is to inspire you to be more creative in your approach to composting, and to have more fun while doing it. Learn how home composting benefits your garden and the environment; how to maximize the use of free raw materials for compost and reduce waste; how to apply the fundamentals of cold and hot composting techniques; how composting builds the soil-food web and unlocks minerals in the soil; and troubleshooting – critters, odor and more.
On Saturday, Sept. 17, the 6th in the series of family gardening workshops will be presented. Join us for “Family Fun in the Garden: Putting the Garden to Bed” from 10 a.m. to noon, also at the Demonstration Garden in Grass Valley. Come help harvest our summer garden bounty. Today we begin to prepare our garden for cooler weather. We will plant some fall vegetables and do tasks that help the garden rest and rejuvenate during the winter season, such as planting cover crops and planning for crop rotation.
These new Family Fun workshops are designed for parents, grandparents and children ages 4 and older. (Younger children are welcome, of course, but our limited time and space don’t allow us to offer activities for them.) Adults must stay at the entire workshop and participate with their children. Bring water, sunscreen, hats and gloves and be ready to play in the dirt.
Congratulations to the fair staff, volunteers, and all the winners and those who took the time to enter! They all make the winners circle!
Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener