I still don’t know what to think about the Radnor farmer. First there is the whole low rent thing in a time when Radnor Township’s finances are ummm shall we say not fabulous? And that is no dig at farmers, I support farmers. But this is a farmer farming on public land and well, that changes the landscape, right?
I did a Right to Know on the whole farmer in the dell recently, and I have to say, I still am left wondering about so much.
Now in 2013, Radnor inked a deal to buy 71 acres of Ardrossan for $11+ million. Wheeler Field, Quarry Field, Rye Field. “Everyone loves the cows” was a catchy phrase back then attributed to a commissioner then who is on Delaware County Council now, and some say has higher aspirations still. The farmer is also on two other fields nearby supposedly, correct? Not owned by Radnor Township but old Ardrossan Land?
So there is a farmer farming on the Radnor Township land. That started I guess around 2015 as per an old Patch article? In same family that worked for Hope Scott when it was Ardrossan proper, correct? Main Line Media News reported back then that residents were concerned about chemicals being used on the land. At that time, Main Line Media News quoted Commissioner Elaine Paul Schaefer (now of Delaware County Council):
“I believe a license agreement with the current farmer will be on the agenda for one of our next meetings, so we will have the opportunity to hear resident comment and discuss all the issues involved,” said Schaefer. “The current farmer has been farming the Ardrossan land for over 25 years, and his father farmed it for the generation before him. I believe that most residents would like to see this farmer continue to farm the land, as his very unique operation provides the beloved cows that beautify the landscape. As I understand it, the proposed license will require that the farmer utilize best management practices and adhere to the NCRS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) approved soil conservation plan.”~ ELAINE PAUL SCHAEFER TO MAIN LINE MEDIA NEWS 3/3/2015
So, I think it’s TRULY wonderful part of Ardrossan is still farmed, don’t misunderstand me, but well, what chemicals are being used on the fields should be an open and evolving discussion, right? Way back when Radnor inked this deal with the farmer, people urged the farmer to be as organic as possible, correct?
People started asking questions again this year. And Radnor Township is nothing sort of SUPER TOUCHY when it comes to ANYTHING Ardrossan.
So my Right to Know. I filed it, included a note saying hi to the solicitor. Solicitor got my email, Radnor open records officer apparently did NOT. I did not know any of this, and discovered it when I realized I hadn’t received an acknowledgment of any kind, rejection, response. So I filed an appeal to Open Records in Harrisburg and let Radnor know. The open records officer at Radnor was super apologetic and got what I requested together. She was very nice, no issues with her. I subsequently withdrew my appeal at the state level because that was the right thing to do.
I have been going through what I requested. Some of the records are rather hazy. I believe that is because that is how documents were given to Radnor and quite frankly, the farmer should provide clear copies for that sweetheart deal he gets to continue to farm. He might not like that opinion, but he farms on public land, and he is answerable to said public.
Now interestingly enough someone Radnor-centric said to me when I was starting this why didn’t I just go to the fields and take water/soil samples since it is public land. Ummm. Yeah. No can do. It is public land with a tenant who has a leasehold, so that would be wrong, be trespassing. I do however, think the state and county, if not the township should do routine testing.
So if you take the Quarry field, from what I was able to see on some documents which were fuzzy at best, the following products look like they were used used on Quarry Field in 2022 (Soybeans):
TORCH: manufactured by Farmalinx Pty LTD; a preemergent herbicide for annual weeds
FRONT RUNNER: manufactured by Atticus; preemergent for weeds, where crop is specifically for soybeans. Possibly acute hazard for aquatic environment?
CREDIT41 – manufactured by Keystone Pest Solutions. “Credit 41 Extra is a post-emergent, systemic herbicide with no soil residual activity. It is generally non-selective and gives broad-spectrum control of many annual weeds, perennial weeds, woody brush and trees.”
Other post-emergent chemicals used: Fome kill, Status, Turbo, Durango – all weed killers, but with minimal toxicity.
Now remember, I wrote about the chemical issues before and a resident went to the township and provided thoughtful commentary about chemicals used by the farmer in March of 2022:
Although not directly noted (as I do not know how to add the direction arrow to the Quarry Field), between the bottom of the Quarry Field and the boundaries of the Skunk Hollow Community Garden, lies the Little Darby Creek. This creek is a part of the Darby Creek system, is stocked, on an annual basis, with trout for fishing by both adults and especially children, is played in and most importantly, the endangered American Eel has been directly observed moving up through this creek and into the Willows Pond.
Thus, there are several herbicides delineated to be toxic to fish, to water invertebrates and generally to be avoided. DEVOUR, by Federal law, is NOT to be used in parks, golf courses and playgrounds – thus, as this field is Township owned, PLU, this herbicide should not be used!
Thank you…. for passing on to me the official records for herbicides applied to the Township-owned property called ‘the Quarry field’, in which the farmer….applies to the field in order to grow a good crop of Corn, that will be fed to his cattle. The records that I have received are from 2016, 2017, 2018, with the note that nothing was grown in the Quarry Field in 2020. What seems to be absent are any records for 2019 and 2021.
For purposes of review, the principal herbicides applied have been consistent across the time span, including Acuron, Princep, Warrior II, Max Supreme, Abundit Extra, Devour, LamCap II, Gramoxone.
ACURON is a Syngenta product, an herbicide for long-season re-emergent weed control and specifically for Corn. It is a restricted pesticide/herbicide, and hazardous to the applicator through skin irritation and allergic reaction. This product may damage fertility. It is a mix of chemicals, including Atrazine. “Research has liked Atrazine to birth defects and cancer in people, and even miniscule doses can chemically castrate frogs. It has been banned or is being phased out in more than 35 countries but is the second-most commonly used herbicide in the United States. “It is known as an Endocrine-disrupting pesticide. “
PRINCEP, aka Simazine, is manufactured by Syngenta, focusing on corn, to address 40 broad-leafed weeds and annual grasses. The chemical is not persistent in soil. It is a restricted -applied chemical, with applicator issues of eye irritation, and a suspected but not proven carcinogen. The MSDS sheets indicated that it is toxic to fish and other water invertebrates.
WARRIOR II – manufactured by Syngenta US. The primary use is to ‘defeat’ beetles, weevils and borers. This chemical is HIGHLY toxic to bees if directly exposed or if ‘’visiting’ flowers in bloom. P.S. Now being used to address Spotted Lanternfly.
MAXSUPREME – is a liquid activator adjuvant specifically formulated to maximize herbicide performance for the designated crop.
ABUNDIT EXTRA/EDGE – a Syngenta product, this is a pre-emergent herbicide, containing Glysophate which is formulated for ‘tolerant corn’. It has acute toxicity as an inhalant. It is noted on the USMS sheets to avoid spillage near water, as it is toxic to water organisms.
DEVOUR, manufactured by Innvictus Cone, LLC. A highly-toxic, PARAQUAT-based, not selective, broad spectrum herbicide. There are lawsuits moving through the courts to remove this chemical from use, as mis-use of this herbicide has been proven to cause at 250% increase in the disease Parkinson.
There is established FEDERAL law that the use of DEVOUR is prohibited in parks, on golf courses and playgrounds!
LAMCAP II – manufactured by Syngenta, a restricted insecticide. This chemical is extremely toxic to fish, aquatic organisms, and toxic to wildlife. Note the MSDS sheets advise to be careful to avoid wet ground, to avoid runoff into water.
GRAMOXONE SL2.0 – manufactured by Syngenta- A ‘knockdown herbicide. The active ingredient is PARAQUAT [see comments in Devour that relate to Paraquat (and Parkinsonism). Gramoxone is toxic to fish and other water invertebrates.
To accomplish this research I examined the website for each of these chemicals, focusing on the purpose, usage and any possible toxicity. Since the purchase of sections of Ardrossan by Radnor Township, resulting in an increase of acres of parkland [Public Land Use], means that the resident/owners of this land needs to be protected, as well as the wildlife that inhabits the land and waters. ~RADNOR RESIDENT 3/23/22
So this resident had come to a blogger because she felt she was not really being heard. She is a senior citizen. However when watching an EAC meeting recording in August, I noticed something somewhat terrifying to me: the citizen’s EAC was told not to discuss this topic and it made me stop and go HUH and isn’t it just bizarre? I mean it’s NO big secret that Radnor Township Commissioner Lisa Borowski (former BOC Prez and Vice Prez) has aspirations and is running for State Rep in the PA 168th, right?
So here we are. And I know some of the documents are BEYOND fuzzy, but as it was explained to me, Radnor complied with my request. A municipality produces what it has in its possession and does its best to be responsive to a request. It doesn’t enhance or detract from the quality of the record. And that is if a municipality is responsive to a request. Not all are, like West Whiteland Township, for example. But that is another conversation.
I still have concerns, but it is up to Radnor Township residents to wake up on this and many other issues. Radnor is sliding back to days people don’t want, and most sadly don’t remember, including their current commissioners who don’t know their rear ends from holes in the wall a lot of the time, let alone township history. That is my opinion, of course.
One thing that did bug me a smidge in what I got from the Right to Know was what I consider a major face palm moment via a PA DEP pesticide guy named Donald Gilbert:
Sooo I am wondering what this PA DEP chemical specialist doesn’t understand about some Radnor residents being concerned about what farmer leasing Quarry/Rye field/Wheeler Tract sprays do you? Public land that leads to Little Darby Creek,a water source, right?
And for argument’s sake, is the PA DEP on top of the golf courses he refers to as far as chemicals they use and proximity to natural water sources too? Aronomink and Overbrook? That would mean they would have to watch Thomas Run and Miles Run, right? They flow to Darby Creek according to maps? And then if you want to include another club, Radnor Valley Country Club they have the Ithan Creek running through somewhere, right? And doesn’t that new Ardrossan Wigwam community have creeks or similar too?
What is going onto the fields is important. If engineered seed is indeed used, also important. It’s important to the cows one would think, as well, right?
Now I asked other state people some questions to try to better understand things. Not a complaint, but essentially seeking clarity on how things work from a state perspective. I asked how they check up on chemicals farmers or using near streams:
All agricultural operations that land apply manure or agricultural process waste water are required to have a manure management plan or nutrient management plan. Any starter or supplemental fertilizer must be accounted for in the Manure Management Plan or Nutrient Management Plan.
If the operation is a CAO (over 2000 lb of livestock or poultry per acre available for manure application) or a large CAFO (determined by EPA’s headcount numbers in 40 CFR 122.23(b)(4)) the operation is inspected annually by the county conservation district or State Conservation Commission. If the operation is a CAFO it is inspected at least once every five years in addition to the annual inspection by the county conservation district or state conservation commission.
If the operation is in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and not a CAO or CAFO, routine inspections are conducted by the County Conservation District or DEP to determine compliance with manure management regulations.
Other inspections are carried out by DEP or county conservation districts in response to manure-related complaints.
However, I must restate that the above is the compliance strategy associated with the land application of manure, not pesticide use. Paraquat and RoundUp are pesticides. I will reiterate what is stated below:
Concerns of pesticide applications including those on public (township) lands would be addressed-by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) or by the Township. The certification of pesticide applicators and the pesticide application program is under PDA, not the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
I also support touching base with the township which may have additional considerations for township land.~ PA DEP Bureau of Watershed Restoration and Nonpoint Source Management
Agriculture Compliance Section 10/20/22
Now also interesting is I asked about Little Darby Creek. Little Darby Creek and its tributaries have a designated use of Cold-Water Fishery, Migratory Fishes. There are no Special stream protection designations such as High Quality or Exceptional Value in this area. I had previously though there was a high quality or exceptional value designation. I did read it somewhere, so I will have to consult my notes. I was grateful for the clarity.
In this recent journey for information, I coincidentally did discover there is a site the DEP used to monitor (some heating oil thing) with Facility ID 778907 Ardrossan Farm Parcel A7 – close to this same area where the fields are. It was some sort of remediation from years ago having to do with I think a heating oil spill. I found it once on this thing called emap (https://www.depgis.state.pa.us/emappa/). It’s a public tool which should be easy to use, but I find it somewhat temperamental to use.
So Radnor residents, what I learned from the state is concerns regarding pesticide applications including those on public (township) lands would be addressed-by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) or by said township. Now Radnor does have “policy” here as it is in the lease agreement the farmer operates under. The farmer is NOT required to be organic, and I will note getting an organic status is a lot of work and money. But Radnor has this verbiage in their agreement about the farmer utilizing best management practices, but it is not up to me to decide if best practices are up to snuff, etc.
I do not think Radnor Township is paying close enough attention. In my opinion in part this is because it’s Ardrossan.
Ardrossan stopped being the thing we remember after Bobby Scott died. That was 2005. Also see NY Post: The curse that plagued the family who inspired ‘The Philadelphia Story’. And Main Line Media News Ardrossan estate’s final chapter.
But Ardrossan is like Radnor’s proverbial sacred cow. But it’s 2022 and the estate is dotted with McMansions and McMansion attitudes. Who knows what will happen to the great house some day. But those fields and that land which Radnor bought in 2013 was purchased with public funds, yes? Then Radnor Township still has a duty to the public here, yes? I think they do.
You can’t undo what has already been done with regard to herbicides and pesticides, but I think Radnor and Radnor’s farmer could go forward with perhaps a better plan? It’s publicly owned land, after all. I support farms and farmers, but I believe in farming responsibly. I see it out here in Chester County, so it’s possible. This isn’t the only farm in Delaware County, so even from that perspective Radnor Township officials could check out best practices for farmers and maybe the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau could help them? I am sure they could also consult with Natural Lands?
Whatever, am sharing what I learned for the greater good. What Radnor residents do (and Radnor Township itself) is up to them.