About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.

changes: yellow springs farm is for sale

Catherine Renzi from Yellow Springs Farm came over last week to drop off plants. My current garden is one of many over the course of 20 years that I have incorporated plants from Yellow Springs Farm into.

During this visit, Catherine entrusted me with the news she and her husband Al are now allowing me to tell all of you: Yellow Springs Farm is for sale. And before we go any further, know one thing: this is a conserved farm. This land will remain protected in perpetuity from subdivision or development because Catherine and Al Renzi donated a conservation easement in 2001.

While many land parcels in Chester County are NOT safe from wanton development, Yellow Springs Farm is.

I have know Catherine for many, many years. Before there was Yellow Springs Farm, she was a well respected financial advisor and for a few years I was a sales assistant in her office. As a matter of fact, I remember when she said she was taking her life in another direction and she and Al were buying a farm. To many of the stock jockeys, that sounded crazy. To me, it sounded wonderful.

Although Catherine started out essentially a boss, she has become my friend over the course of many, many years we have known each other. I have been buying goods from her farm as long as they have been selling them.

Yellow Springs Farm is a magical place and so beautiful. It has been a happy place for me in Chester County over the years. I always knew spring was truly here when there was an open farm day, and I could see the new kids. Kids, aka baby goats, are among the most joyful animals to be around. Goats can be a little stinky, but they are funny creatures guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The Yellow Springs goats are now gone from the farm. They went to live at another dairy.

Change can be hard, and Catherine and Al didn’t make this decision lightly. BUT people are entitled to new and different chapters, and if I am honest, when I saw Catherine had picked up her paint brushes again and started creating beautiful paintings, I knew change was coming.

Now while their location might be changing, Catherine will still be offering landscape design and consulting services (and hopefully plants!) from a new, TBD location.

With Catherine and Al’s permission, I am sharing their note to their Cheese CSA members:

📌📝Yellow Springs Farm Native Plants Nursery and Artisanal Goat Dairy will close this Fall. After 20 years of goats, gardens and countless community connections, Al and Catherine Renzi are ready to begin a new life chapter.

We are extremely grateful for the knowledge, friendships and warm memories you, our valued CSA members, have shared over the years. We could not have pursued our mission of connecting sustainable landscapes with local foodscapes without our customers, colleagues, chefs and so many Farm supporters, near and far.

The Farm real estate is for sale, but it remains protected in perpetuity from subdivision or development because of the conservation easement we donated in 2001. We imagine new owners will live their dreams here, and continue to care for this beautiful place. The goats were the soul of the Farm. They are safe, and have moved to another dairy. We receive their milk to continue making cheese until later this Fall– likely November. The dairy and cheesemaking equipment is available for purchase. Nursery plants not sold this season will come with us to our new location TBD. Change is hard to process, but we are focused on being glad that YSF happened (2001-2021), not sad that it is coming to an end. When we started this adventure in 2001, and now again in 2021, we made choices to take chances, and look forward to change ahead with refreshed aspirations. Every ending is a new beginning

We will connect with community venues and other means to pursue our interests in nature, conservation, and local food. Catherine’s creative muse, and Al’s analytical penchant for science are alive and well. We will share specifics as we know more details in coming weeks and months.

Thank you for sharing this fulfilling, challenging life chapter with us. Your support and enthusiasm for our Farm has been priceless. A piece of this place lives forever in our hearts, and we hope you too have fond memories of Yellow Springs Farm.

With warm regards and heartfelt thanks,

Al and Catherine Renzi
📌📝

So there is the news. If you are a realtor or a potential owner who is a farm lover with a conservation soul, follow this LINK and this LINK to the listing and schedule a showing. The farmhouse is sensitively and beautifully updated, and some lucky family could move in “as is.”

Yellow Springs Farm sits on a glorious conserved 8 acre parcel. The farmhouse as mentioned is restored and dates to 1850. A spring house, a bank barn, run in sheds and more await the right owner. The barn has a fabulous 1 bedroom apartment, suitable as a rental or space for visiting friends/family. If you think it’s you, contact:

Linda Burgwin
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
Office Ph: (610) 225-7400
Cell: (484)- 716-0163

And no, I am not getting into the real estate listing promotion business. This is a special place and the Renzis are special people. Please if you are interested in the farm, schedule a visit through a realtor properly. Please do not just drive up the driveway for a look see.

Catherine and Al, you know I wish you nothing but the best and look forward to your next chapter. Cheers to you both!

To those interested in preserving the character of Chester County, be like the Renzis and consider conservation. Conservation and preservation go hand in hand.

the last day of summer…at life’s patina

Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm is one of my favorite places. It has been a happy place for me since I photographed it for the first time in August of 2012. I never get tired of taking photos there.

Meg (right) and one of her fabulous designing women/right hand women, Julie (left)

This morning marked the preview of the Fall Barn Sale at Life’s Patina. My friend and I plan a girl’s day around Meg Veno’s amazing events. We went to the early session which featured “brunch with a view”, and because we had lunch plans, brunch was actually my dinner. (We were all given “brunch boxes” when leaving.)

The barn was a dazzling array of fabulous vignettes from top to bottom. I showed restraint and stayed away from the Johnson Brothers china….which was really hard. But I couldn’t say no to the fabulous creations of Tracy Phillips from Reimagined Style! And I may have snuck a fox kit statue into my garden. And bath salts from Zoet Bathlatier.

Meg and her team do such an amazing job with these sale events! And they are always so pleasant and fun! The charity Life’s Patina is introducing many of us to this time is SpeakUp! and it’s there for teens. If you go, pick up their literature as they do great things.

The Life’s Patina Fall Barn Sale is open to the public September 24th, 25th & 26th:

📌‼️We are back!!! This September, we’re bringing you our latest fabulous vintage and new home accessories, decor, furniture, gift items, and architectural salvage at our Fall Barn Sale. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be open to the public without a scheduled appointment so head on over to peruse all of our artfully curated finds while taking in Fall at Life’s Patina. Local purveyors of fabulous artisanal foods will be holding tastings and creations from local artisans will be shown as well. A portion of all proceeds from the sale will be donated to the amazing Speak Up!, a nonprofit dedicated to helping teens develop supportive relationships with the adults in their lives.

Barn Sale Hours:

Friday, September 24th, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Saturday, September 25th, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sunday, September 26th, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm📌‼️

It was a wonderful way to spend part of the last official day of summer! I hope you will check out Life’s Patina this weekend! BRING YOUR MASK PLEASE!

easttown officials bring the uglies to berwyn

Berwyn is a gem, or was a gem. It’s getting redevelopment within an inch of it’s life, and the development is neither gracious or blending in. Just one cram plan after the other.

The development is garish, jarring, and thus far rather cheap looking. Apparently Easttown Township wants them all crammed in like lemmings.

Easttown officials as in the elected persuasion are not user friendly. They are most succinctly put self-serving, snide, and sanctimonious. They all no better than the peasants. They are quite feudal in attitude.

The erectile dysfunction going up on Route 30/Lancaster Avenue is even more disturbing than it appeared on all the plans. And you know how those plans are presented -always like the proverbial Elysian Fields.

The houses behind the erectile dysfunction look like Lego McMansions and are so crammed together you will hear the neighbors flush their toilets. It’s a cute and cozy relationship between the builder and listing agent too, right? And if there were fewer houses in this nouveau “Berwyn Village”, it wouldn’t be so bad, but once again it’s just too many damn houses.

The erectile dysfunction seems like it’s trying to maroon the Berwyn Tavern. It was the old Fritz Lumber site. Now everyone knew once Fritz closed it was going to be developed, but once again it’s going to be too much and too big. Between all of the apartments here and the monstrosity yet to break ground across Lancaster Ave at “Berwyn Square”, Berwyn is getting supersized in the worst possible way.

When that project is finished it’s going to be as ugly as what has happened and is still happening in Ardmore, PA and elsewhere.

Urban Canyons designed solely to line the pockets of developers. Maybe they will fund a traffic signal here and there, but they will just plop this crap on a community and move onto the next project.

These development projects stresses infrastructure, first responders, and school districts…just to point out SOME of the obvious. Communities are never in my opinion adequately or justly compensated for having to suffer through this crap.

R.I.P. charming Berwyn. Hope the ratables will be worth it, Easttown Township.

otoro sushi: amazing

Salmon “Rose”

I love sushi. Especially really good, top of the line sushi and sashimi. Fish so tender, it practically melts in your mouth.

Sushi “Tacos”

My friends in Berwyn have been telling me about Otoro at 668 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn (down from 30 Main.) They are BYOB if you are going for dinner.

Amazing doesn’t even begin to cover it. Sublime might come close. Everything is super fresh and beautifully presented. The staff is super nice and just the right amount of attentive and helpful. The prices are fair.

I went there for lunch today with a friend after going to the Life’s Patina preview.

I can’t wait to go there again!

local businesses in malvern need the help of the community

Photos and italicized text are from a Malvern business owner. I feel very badly for them.

📌Ok Malvern we need help with the kids! The kids sit out front of the butcher shop, which we don’t mind. What I do mind is they constantly leave tons of trash on the bench, the ground and the window sills, dump their drinks on the ground and smash up food that I go out and pick up. It’s not a good image when customers are coming into the store or walking the shopping center. I have reminded the kids multiple times to pick up their trash before they leave. I even went out one day and screamed across the parking lot for them to come back and clean up after seeing the huge mess they left out there. Now yesterday I went and bought a trash can and sat it right next to the bench so it’s convenient for them. Tonight we go to leave to find more trash (we already picked some up before I took a picture) and they punched in the lid of the can and kicked the can in. I am at my wits end and need suggestions?? What else can we do? I don’t want to be a meanie, but I also refuse to let these kids continue trashing the shopping center and me having to clean up after them every day, multiple times a day! HELP!!! I’m waving the I surrender flag 🏳📌

Ok I don’t get these kids and also do not understand why Malvern Borough hasn’t done anything or the Malvern Business Association? I am sharing this out there so hopefully people can help these small businesses out.

the envelope full of old recipes

A friend is working on a local treasures booth for an upcoming fall fair. In the middle of a box of things being priced, was this ratty envelope full of recipes. Mostly cut out of The Washington Post. A few were handwritten.

The fair ladies didn’t know what to do with the envelope, so she gave them to me. I scanned them mostly into a PDF which I will upload at the end of this post, for all to enjoy.

The personal collections of recipes are often a fun culinary history of trends years ago, combined with what people hung onto. I did not keep all of the recipes because well…the endless gelatin molds of all sorts of combinations of foods is not my jam.

There are some great recipes in the pile and quirky things like how to make mint julips.

Enjoy!

r.i.p. former tredyffrin supervisor paul olson

From a 2018 Main Line Media News Article.

I received word today that a gentleman from Tredyffrin who was a much loved Supervisor for many years has passed away. If you read his obituary which I will post, it shows what we are losing in today’s hyper-partisan times. Where are our community leaders today? People that quietly serve to forward the greater good?

In 2011 a reader editorial was written and published in then Main Line Suburban Life by then Chair of the Tredyffrin Supervisors Bob Lamina. I actually remembered this and went looking for it today. I am going to quote liberally:

Paul Olson: Tredyffrin’s own Jeffersonian Republican
Oct 28, 2011

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” For the better part of 13 years, I’ve had the great pleasure of serving with my friend and colleague Paul Olson on the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors. During that time, Paul has dedicated himself in his public pursuits to ensuring our local government is watchful of tax dollars, preventing wasteful taxpayer-funded expenditures for more government services that his constituents haven’t asked for, or that didn’t support public safety or promote the general welfare of our community…..During our budget deliberations, while many first seek mechanisms to raise revenues to fund additional township services, we can always count on Paul to act like taxpayers do at home: asking where we might first trim expenses.

Paul is also a small-business owner and knows firsthand what it takes to promote economic growth and development and, if we’re not careful, how local government can impede it. He knows from experience the importance of fiscal responsibility and what it takes to make a payroll…..Paul has also been an active volunteer in our community in many ways other than in his elected capacity. A resident since 1968, Paul was president of the Devon-Strafford Little League for five years and also coached the Strafford Eagles youth-football program, now the Conestoga Generals, for seven years. He serves on the Board of Directors of Surrey Services for Seniors, and was co-chair for the wildly successful capital campaign for Tredyffrin Township’s main library in Strafford, raising over $4.8 million in a private-public partnership in the truest sense of the term.

In the spirit of volunteerism that sets him apart from equally well-meaning citizens, Paul was recently honored by the Chester County commissioners for his 400th donation of blood and blood platelets to the American Red Cross, making him the region’s top donor. I asked Paul recently why he’s been dedicated to donating blood platelets for so long. He hesitated, and then told me that he had a very good friend who died some years ago who required this form of blood transfusion. He has committed himself to donate his time, and his blood, to help others who could literally have their lives touched unknowingly by Paul’s unselfish acts of kindness.

A public servant is best defined as one who is a team player who works to achieve goals through compromise and mutual respect. Our public servants are also typically resourceful since often funding is limited and in today’s reality perhaps not available at all. But above all, the best characteristic of a public servant is that of being selfless; that is, placing the needs of others before themselves. Thomas Jefferson also said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” Paul Olson is the embodiment of a true public servant who has given much more than he has ever received from our community.

~ By Bob Lamina

Paul Olson was a true public servant. I never knew him personally, never even met him, but he always put community before self. He put community before political parties.

He was by all accounts, a consistent champion of the Mt. Pleasant section of Tredyffrin in the panhandle. This historic black community is too often overlooked and he helped with things like the Carr School/Mt. Pleasant Chapel, Main Line Mentoring, and getting a park named for Mazie B. Hall. Also active with the Red Cross, Surrey Services for Seniors, and so much more including but not limited to the huge capital campaign back a bunch of years for the Tredyffrin Library.

Paul Olson served as a Supervisor in Tredyffrin Township beginning in 1976 until 2019. FORTY THREE YEARS. That is amazing. That is awe-inspiring. I know I could never do something like that. Rest in peace, Mr. Olson.

Here is his obituary from the Alleva Funeral Home Website:

Paul Wendell Olson
DECEMBER 6, 1931 – SEPTEMBER 10, 2021

Paul Olson was a husband, father, brother, friend, and mentor. He was a community volunteer and leader who served on the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors for more than 40 years. He passed away on Friday September 10, 2021. He was 89 years old.

He loved basketball, which he played through his early 60s, including at the Senior Olympics in Salt Lake City. He loved all kinds of candy, which often filled his pockets and always his briefcase and office drawers. And he loved his wife, Andrea, a high school Fiesta Queen and college salutatorian at Iowa State University, whom he married on September 17, 1960, and with whom he raised three children.

He was a small town Minnesota boy, born and raised in Dawson, a close knit rural community in the southwestern corner of the state, the second son of Clarence Eugene Olson and Ouida Rue Olson. He took lifelong pride in his first job, sweeping floors at Hovland Drug Store as a pre-teen, and in his role on the 1948 Dawson High School basketball team that went to the state tournament. He talked fondly of his graduating class of 18 boys and 18 girls and stayed in touch with many of them throughout his life.

He attended Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota, where he studied business administration and history and started at center on the football team. He served active duty in the Counterintelligence Corps of the Army in Fort Hood, Texas, during the Korean War. He made a career in sales and marketing and managed and then owned several small firms in the laboratory testing business. His career took him through Minneapolis, Kansas City, Peoria, and New York, before landing him and his family of five in Devon in 1969.

He made his most lasting impact in life, though, as a family man and as a community volunteer and leader. In addition to his service on the Tredyffrin Township Board, he was active as a member of his church, St. Luke Lutheran in Devon, and in youth sports. He coached for the Strafford Eagles, the Paoli Wildcats, Teegarden summer basketball, and the Devon Strafford Little League, where he also served as President for a number of years in the late 1970s. He served on the board of directors for both Red Cross of Philadelphia, through whom he donated blood on more than 600 occasions, and for Surrey Services for Seniors.

Paul believed that community service, in addition to improving the community, could enrich the lives of those serving and had the power to connect people of different backgrounds and experiences. He would often encourage friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to participate in community life. He was not an enemies person, and there was not a person he served with, worshipped with, or coached who he would not greet with a warm smile and, more often than not, a firm handshake or a hug. Among Paul’s proudest achievements in township government were saving the Strafford Library, establishing Mazie Hall Park in Mount Pleasant, and helping to secure a triple-A rating on the Township’s bonds.

He is survived by his ever loving wife Andrea; his children Mike (Marilyn) of San Diego, Dave (Judi) of San Mateo, and Kris (Bob) of Paoli; five grandchildren Carly, Miles, Michael, Hunter, Jack, Sam, and Maddie; and his brother Don (Barbara).

Services will be held on Saturday, September 25th, at 11AM at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Devon, located on 203 North Valley Forge Road. The family requests that those wishing to express sympathy consider making donations to the American Red Cross.

~ Alleva Funeral Home

mrs. stull’s tomato jam

A few years ago I went to a Smithfield Barn on-site estate sale in Coatesville. It was out of the center of town, and it was in neighborhoods which I guess started to go up post World War II.

It was this cute little two-story house with a really big garden out back. I remember that the man who lived there must have worked for Lukens Steel, because there was memorabilia from there. This house also had these cases in a library-type room full of Dicken’s Village houses.

Anyway, in this estate sale there was some great kitchen stuff, including vintage cookbooks which I love. Vintage cookbooks are simply more helpful a lot of the time. At this sale I bought a vintage canning book. I have been experimenting more and more with canning since I moved to Chester County. And a lot of it is to use produce that I grow in my own garden.

Inside this cookbook were two recipes for tomato jam. Well one is for tomato marmalade and I’m not sure if the recipe is complete or not but I am going to transcribe both recipes for all of you today.

Mrs. Stull’s Tomato Jam

1 tablespoons pickling spices

1 teaspoons ginger root

4 cups sugar

2 thin sliced lemons

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 quarts / 2 pounds firm ripe tomatoes

Tie spices in a cheese cloth bag. Add to sugar, lemon, and water in a big pot. Simmer 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook gently ‘til tomatoes clear.

Stir, cover, and let stand 12/18 hours in a cool place.

Next heat up water in a canner pot.

Ladle tomatoes into jars leaving 1/4” head space. Add extra syrup from jam pot over tomatoes. Can with a 20 minute hot water bath.

6 1/2 pints.

Mrs. Stull’s Tomato Marmalade

3 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut in pieces

1 orange seeded and sliced thin

1/2 lemon seeded and sliced thin

1 1/2 pounds white granulated sugar (or around 3 1/2 cups)

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook slowly – three hours – stir frequently until thick. Pour in hot sterilized jars and seal in a water bath.

Now I have transcribed the recipes for you verbatim. And I made a batch of tomato jam yesterday. I used both recipes to put it into one. I use the tomato jam recipe as the base, and then the tomato marmalade recipe was used for inspiration.

The extra ingredients I added were as follows: a small thinly sliced lime, a teaspoon or so of ground cumin, one Vidalia onion chopped fine, and one red hatch chili pepper minced.The extra ingredients I added were as follows: a small Finley sliced lime, a teaspoon or so of ground cumin, one Vidalia onion chopped fine, and one red hatch chili pepper minced. I used half a cup of water and a quarter cup of cider vinegar, instead of 3/4 cup of water.

Before I put everything into the jam pot I blanched and peeled all my tomatoes. While not difficult to do, it is labor-intensive. But I blanched the tomatoes and then I let them cool off for an hour or so. I kept some of the “tomato water“ back to use in the jam.

I will note I cooked the jam down for a few hours. Over a low heat like when I make apple butter. I really am pleased with the flavor profile of the jam and I just sort of had to fiddle with the cooking of it because it really wasn’t clear on the handwritten recipes. But handwritten recipes hidden away in vintage cookbooks are like kitchen gold.

After cooking the jam down I jarred and tidied everything up and did a hot water bath for about 20 minutes. I let everything sit out on the counter on wooden cutting boards overnight and cool, tightened the lids this morning and labeled.

Thanks for stopping by!