for the love of goats

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One of the New Kids on The Block at Yellow Springs Farm

Ha! That title caught your eye, eh gentle readers?

Good! I love my Yellow Springs Farm goats! Well they aren’t really my goats but I love them. And every year, this time of year Yellow Springs Farm has open farm weekends :

Sat, 05/18/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Sun, 05/19/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Yellow Springs Farm Native Plant Nursery and Artisanal Goat Cheese Dairy, will be having our Springs Native Plant sale over 2 weekends in May. Originally a dairy farm 150 years ago,the farm and nursery consists of an historic farmhouse, dairy barn, a springhouse with pond on 8 acres of land. We grow native plants, design and install native landscapes and produce over 25 varieties of fresh and aged artisanal goat cheeses. So come on out and take a picture on our Open Farm day weekends(May 11th/12th and May 18th and 19th) with our Nubian Goats, sample cheeses, and see our blooming wildflowers! Plant experts will be available to help you select plants for your garden or landscape plan.

It’s a little slice of heaven. The goats are total characters. The plants are awesome – I have planted three gardens with them now. And the goat cheese and yogurt? Award winning for a very good reason – totally delicious.

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People visiting with the goats this weekend.

I have known the farmers Catherine and Al Renzi for years.  I remember back to circa 2001 when they decided to start their farm and when they bought it.

Over the years a well-deserved following has developed and the event has grown…as in the number of visitors increases every year. And this is where I am going to open my big mouth because it is a distinct privilege being able to visit Catherine and Al’s farm. And no, I don’t work or speak for the farm, I am speaking my mind based upon what I saw out of guests this year that I thought wasn’t the best behavior ever considering these farmers open up their farm (where they live and work) to all of us. 

Let’s start with parking.  They know their farm and their road so they tell you quite politely where to park.  That doesn’t mean the road and it doesn’t mean parking in roped off areas of the farm or blocking people in or even taking what amount to multiple spaces. Be polite, you are a guest.

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This is a farm. Not a dog park.

Pets.  This weekend people bought their dogs. Yes their dogs like it was a dog park.  It’s not a dog park, it’s a working farm with valuable animals including the farm’s own dog.  It is simply not fair to presume YOUR pets are welcome.  Keep them at home. Please. That’s like bringing uninvited guests to a sit-down dinner party.

The goats.  The goats are lovely creatures who are independent minded.  So listen to the goat herders. They know their charges.  And please do not feed their charges.  They have plenty of their own food.  Yes, they look at you with those big brown eyes but resist LOL, resist!

The plants. The plants are awesome!  Around 200 varieties of native plants. From all over the Mid Atlantic and Northeast.  I bought my first witch hazels ever here years ago.  On Saturday I had an impulse buy: one of my favorite kinds of oak trees, a Chestnut Oak. It was here at Yellow Springs that I discovered one of my favorite native perennials called Indian Pinks. Also flame azaleas.

And the cheeses? Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmm.  I recommend the goat cheese with mushrooms that was recommended to me this weekend. I can’t remember it’s proper name but it was delicious.

Yellow Springs Farm is located at:

1165 Yellow Springs Rd  
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania 19425
 (610) 827-2014
 www.yellowspringsfarm.com

Enjoy the goat photos and thanks for stopping by.

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not so happy days farms on route 100 near turnpike in exton (uwchlan township)

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You know me, I love my old farms. I am obsessed with old barns.  For years, I have passed by this farm sitting all marooned by modern times with Route 100 to the front and the Pennsylvania Turnpike to its left side when you are looking from Route 100.   I found out today this property is Happy Days Farm and it is in Uwchlan Township.

At present this farm is STILL being farmed by tenants which is why I had no idea until yesterday that Vanguard even owned the land because I did not live in Chester County back when this all started.

I feel I need to mention that I know 100% for a fact that active farming is still going on because I fear as soon as I post this if I DO NOT mention Happy Days Farm is still actively farmed, they will get trespassers. DO NOT JUST VISIT THIS FARM RANDOMLY, OK? TRESPASSING HERE MEANS A VISIT FROM THE POLICE, CAPISCE?

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The Philadelphia Business Journal and Vista Today did not mention there was still active farming going on, so I kind of feel I have to, that I must point out THE FARM IS STILL IN USE.  And it is because of these publications I am writing this post because I was alarmed at the news they imparted to all of us recently about Happy Days Farm potentially literally coming to an end.

Noodling around on ChescoViews I found this:

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Nelson Realty Excel

Is it just me or is it a total disaster if this farm is lost to development???

Vista Today: After Once Considering It for a New Campus, Vanguard to Sell 246-Acre Property in Exton Posted By: Kimberly McGuane Posted date: March 12, 2019

Vanguard has decided to put Happy Days Farm in Exton up for sale, writes Natalie Kostelni for the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The investment giant has owned it for two decades and once considered using the 246-acre property for a new campus.

When it originally purchased the property in 1999, Vanguard anticipated developing a campus that would total between one and two million square feet. But the property has been sitting without any development on it ever since…..Now, the property is expected to attract interest from a wide range of developers.

WHAT THE HECK????

THIS IS A FARM! A STILL WORKING FARM EVEN WITH TENANT FARMERS! WE NEED OUR FARMS IN CHESTER COUNTY NOT MORE BLOODY DEVELOPMENT AND DEVELOPERS, RIGHT?! 

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Happy Days Farm was once home to the Supplee Family in modern times (I think from some point in the 1940s.)  Mildred and Warren Supplee were well-loved by their community and were married for 75 years:

Obituary of Mildred M. Supplee as it appeared and was published in The Daily Local on July 30, 2013:

Mildred M. Supplee of Freedom Village Mildred M. Supplee, presently of Freedom Village, West Brandywine and formerly of Lionville and Upper Uwchlan Township, passed away in the presence of her children and loved ones on Saturday, July 27, 2013.

She was 100, having celebrated her birthday on April 15. Born in Chester Springs, she was the daughter and oldest child of H. Raymond and Mary Vail McBride. She lived her entire life in central Chester County, having lived in Chester Springs until the age of five when she moved with her family to Byers and lived there until her marriage. She attended the one-room Windsor School in Upper Uwchlan Township for eight years and then West Chester High School, graduating in 1931. She studied nursing at Chester County Hospital, and after her family was raised she was charge nurse at the former Huffman Nursing Home in Whitford.

After a five-year courtship she married her beloved late husband, S. Warren Supplee, and the couple celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in 2008, prior to Warren’s passing. Upon her marriage she moved with Warren to his family farm where they farmed the two farm properties collectively known today as Happy Days Farm.

In 1994 they moved with son Walter from the farm property in Lionville to a home in Upper Uwchlan Township where they lived until moving to Freedom Village.

Mildred was very active in church work, being a member of Windsor Baptist Church in Eagle for 85 years. She presently was the oldest living member. She served as church clerk for 50 years, served as a trustee, was active and held positions in the mission society, taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and helped organize and advise the Christian Endeavor youth program at the church. She helped serve church suppers and weddings. She was also involved in the Central Union Association of the American Baptist convention and held positions there.

Mildred was christened a Lutheran and attended St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Chester Springs, attending there with her family prior to joining Windsor. She presently was an associate member there and attended services there as well as Windsor through her hundred years.

Besides helping on the family farm and raising her family, she made the family’s clothes, bedding, and enjoyed doing handwork. She was an excellent cook and people loved to come for a meal. She entertained many family, church and school groups. She enjoyed reading until her eyesight failed. She was a devoted daughter and provided care for her parents as well as her husband’s parents and brother. She was a member of many farm organizations with her husband….

Obituary of S. Warren Supplee as it appeared in the Southern Chester County Weeklies on May 29, 2008:

S. Warren Supplee, 98, of Freedom Village, West Brandywine, and formerly of Lionville, passed away on Friday evening, May 16, 2008, at Brandywine Hospital, surrounded by his wife and children.Born in Westtown, he was the son of the late Samuel W. and Myrtle Broadbelt Supplee.

A lifelong farmer, Mr. Supplee lived his entire life in the central Chester County area.

He grew up on a farm on Johnny’s Way, Westtown. At the age of 13, he moved to Lionville with his parents and brother and farmed there on the two farm properties collectively known today as the Happy Days Farm.

He loved to tell of the family’s move to Lionville from Westtown. He and his father moved machinery and some farm crops every other day using horses and wagons. On moving day, the men drove the dairy cattle from Westtown to Lionville.

He started to milk by hand at the age of 5 and milked till he was 80. He lived to see milking parlors and a robot milker.

He married Mildred McBride, and the couple recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

In 1994, he moved from the farm in Lionville to Upper Uwchlan, where he lived until his move to Freedom Village.

He attended Goshen Baptist Church as a child until his move to Lionville, where he attended Windsor Baptist Church in Eagle. He joined there in 1928 and was the oldest living member. He also attended St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Chester Springs.

An avid Chester County foxhunter, he hunted with several hunts and had his own foxhounds. He also enjoyed hunting rabbits with his beagles.

He attended schools in Westtown and graduated from Lionville High School. He also attended West Chester High School.

Mr. Supplee served on the Uwchlan Township board and later the Downingtown Area School Board.

He was a member of the former Uwchlan Grange, Lionville Fire Company, P.O.S. of A, Odd Fellows, West Chester Home Clusters and several farm organizations…..

Before I found these obituaries, it was just a farm, just a big swath of land. Now I know how much this land, this farm was loved.

And I am told there are historically listed structures on this farm? Buildings that are registered with the historical society that any buyer can not remove?

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I will note that Philadelphia Architects and Buildings  dates the farm as circa 1730 to 1780. They also have a 1995 site plan. I also discovered it is part of some Watershed H (Brandywine Creek, East Brandywine creek?) and there is an archeological and historical survey report.  And this abstract document from 1998 would also be of interest.

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Also, it took some digging but I did indeed find a 1998 PA Historic Resouces Survey Form. You can click HERE and I am uploading it here: H067961_67867_D. It’s fascinating and what did this survey lead me to? Oh yes, another Penn Land Grant and possibly part of Native American Hunting Grounds:

The origins of Happy Days Farm can be traced to two early land grants from William Penn, Proprietor of the Province of Pennsylvania. One tract of 1,000 acres was granted to James Claypoole in 1682. James Claypoole was an English investor who purchased several land grants in Pennsylvania, but never lived there. The other tract of 1,666 2/3 acres was granted to David Lloyd in 1703. David Lloyd was a land investor who owned a considerable portion of what became Uwchlan Township in 1712. In 1713, the heirs of James Claypoole sold 800 acres in Uwchlan to David Lloyd. In 1714, Lloyd sold to Joseph Phipps an 800 acre plantation that included parts of the two Penn grants.

The description on the 1714 deed of a “messuage, tenement plantation tract” indicates that there was already an established farm and dwelling house. Joseph Phipps was among the early Quaker settlers who requested the formation of their own meeting in Uwchlan Township in 1712. At the time, most of these Quakers were living on land owned by David Lloyd, so Joseph Phipps was probably living on the land he later purchased. Between 1712 and 1715, most of David Lloyd’s holdings in Uwchlan Township were deeded to early residents such as Phipps. The first tax records for Uwchlan Township occurred in 1715. Joseph Phipps was one of eighteen names recorded on that list and one of the greatest landowners. 280 years later, descendants of Joseph continue to live in Uwchlan Township.

Joseph Phipps married twice and had seven children with Mary Woodyear and one son with Mary Helsby. His children included Sarah, Samuel, Joseph, Nathan, George (died young), John, Aaron (died young) and by second wife a son also named George born in 1743.

Genealogical records at the Chester County Historical Society suggest that Joseph was born in 1661, but that seems unlikely. If that were correct, Joseph had a son when he was 82 years old and died at the age of 1011 The Phipps family belonged to the Society of Friends, but records indicate that Joseph’s sons did not always live up to the Quaker high moral standards. One of Joseph Phipps Jr. was one of the few slaveowners in Uwchlan Township. In 1764, Joseph Phipps Jr. was taxed eight shillings for one negro man. At that time only five landowners in the Township owned slaves. Nathan and Joseph Jr. were both condemned for marrying out the society. George was complained of in 1727 for excessive drinking and quarreling. Samuel was condemned for having indecent familiarity with his neighbor’s wife. John was charged in 1735 with fathering a bastard child and in 1739 for assaulting a neighbor. The consequence of too much privilege and too little discipline that some complain of in today’s society seems similar to the difficulties Joseph Phipps had with his sons nearly 300years ago!

For much of the eighteenth century, the Phipps family prospered. As Joseph’s children grew and married several houses were built on the family lands. Some farmland was divided, but the  “home farm” and approximately 400 acres remained intact through the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century witnessed the growth of a new agricultural industry – the dairy farm. Chester County became known for its dairy farms. By the 1880’s, 85 individually owned dairy farms prospered in Uwchlan Township. The Phipps families owned several.

Happy Days Farm is the only farm property that remained in the Phipps family for more than two centuries. Members of the Phipps family were active in several area churches including Uwchlan Society of Friends and Windsor Baptist Church. Phipps participated in the organizing and prosperity of the Uwchlan Grange. Residents of this early farm accomplished their goals. They may not have been famous, but they were excellent examples of nineteenth century Pennsylvania farmers.

The “Home” farm finally left the Phipps family in 1923, when sold to settle the estate of Phillena Phipps, widow of William Phipps, great, great, great grandson of the original settler, Joseph Phipps.

The farm property was granted to Harrison Durant in 1923, who owned it for twenty six years, but had lived there as early as 1914. The farm under Durant’s ownership continued to be a dairy farm. Durant remodeled the farmhouse by opening the two original first floor rooms to create one large living room. He eliminated one fireplace and altered the large fireplace. When central heating was installed some other fireplaces were closed off. It appears that Harrison Durant was eccentric. In 1946, he purchased some old fire equipment and advertised private fire protection services for such times as burning brush to clear fields, or to assist the volunteer fire companies. This enterprise was short-lived, he put the equipment up for sale in April, 1947.

Colonial tax records provide little information on land holdings and buildings, but by 1796 descriptions of taxpayers holdings were entered every few years. Jonathan Phipps was taxed in that year for 361 acres, with “two stone houses, 2 stories high and 1 stone kitchen, 1 log house 2 stories high, 1 barn part stone and part frame, 2 good log barns, 2 stone spring houses, 1 shed waggon house, 1 shed stable, 1 lime kiln and two log tenements. The 1799 tax records indicate that the main dwelling house was part stone and part log and was assessed at $280, a sizable sum at that time. Also included in the 1799 tax records for this 360 acre property were two small stone houses, two log houses, three stone springhouses, one log barn and two log and stone barns. This list
supports the theory that several Phipps families lived on the “home” farm.

Several buildings remain, including: the original farmhouse, two stone springhouses, one barn, the old foundation of another barn (the barn has been rebuilt.) a carriage house and some modern buildings. Of particular note is a tenant house built in 1925 with some architectural features unique to Uwchlan Township.

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The Supplees also own a strip of land on the other side of Route 100 and a house and lot that lie within the Lionville National Historic District. It is unknown at this time if these parcels will be included in future development. The early twentieth century house is a one story frame bungalow.

In the past, arrowheads have been found in the area of Happy Days Farm. Uwchlan residents have long supported the premise that the farm was once part of Native American Hunting grounds. Most of the roads forming a wheel design in Lionville were originally Indian paths, but other evidence of Native American activity in the area has never been thoroughly investigated or documented.

In 2001 the Daily Local featured a letter to the editor that included a plea for this farm:

As a resident of Uwchlan Township for the past 12 years, I am typical of the many residents who moved here because of its rural charm. However, unlike many of our neighbors who are moving out because of the major changes in Uwchlan’s character in recent years, my family wants to stay. We love the community and its schools; we work and volunteer in the community and hope that the encroaching development won’t destroy all that Uwchlan is.

Of particular concern to us is the development in the high density sector of the township. According to the county’s Landscapes plan, the area surrounding Route 113 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike is targeted for the densest development in the township….The development of the Happy Days Farm by Vanguard will bring new meaning to the word density. Along with all the tax incentives Vanguard will contribute to the community, it will turn Uwchlan Township into a small metropolis…..

As tax-paying citizens who will bear the burden of the traffic and noise pollution that the Vanguard complex will bring, we should not be expected to compromise the beauty of our community as well just because we happen to be in the high density sector of the county. Uwchlan Township deserves its share of the open space proposed for purchase by the county.

LOIS GRASSO

Exton

Go back a year to 2000 and an article which appeared in the Times Herald about then Governor Tom Ridge offering major money/tax incentives to Vanguard for Happy Days Farm getting developed:

Ridge announces multi-million tax package and incentives for Vanguard
May 23, 2000 

TREDYFFRIN – Gov. Tom Ridge made it official yesterday, presenting The Vanguard Group with a $55.5 million economic package to expand itˆ’s Chester County presence and create 6,000 new jobs over the next five years.

The mutual fund giant, the county’s largest employer, recently announced plans to build a corporate campus on the 245-acre Supplee family Happy Days Farm near the Downingtown interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Uwchlan. That expansion, plus an expansion of the companyˆ’s corporate headquarters in Tredyffrin, represents a $550 million investment for Vanguard.

Ridge made the official announcement of the multi-million tax package and other incentives at Vanguard’s corporate campus surrounded by state and county officials and about 100 Vanguard senior managers.

“Vanguard is a client of ours,” Ridge said as he toured the bond traders’ offices at the company headquarters. “We’re a service industry, not out to make a profit. But the companies that do make a profit, we want them to do it in Pennsylvania.”…John J. Brennan, Vanguard chairman and chief executive officer, said Chester County, a region rich in farmland where people cultivated a living, has developed as a place rich in local talent, rich in human resources which has been “vital to our success.”

“The Supplee parcel we look at with the perspective of an investor,” Brennan said, adding that investing is his business “I manage $550 billion of other people’s money.”

Brennan introduced Ridge to a standing ovation congratulating the governor and the Governor’s Action Team for their long-term view.

Ridge called Monday a great day for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a great day for Vanguard….The Happy Days Farm property, which Vanguard agreed to buy in April, was considered by two giant malls over the last four years, as well as by pharmaceutical giant, Astra Zeneca for its US headquarters. The drug company decided to locate in Delaware wooed away by tax breaks and massive road improvements.

The governor praised the county’s sensitive, smart growth and Uwchlan’s foresight to designate the Supplee tract for economic growth.

“It’s not about a mall here,” Ridge said. “This company builds a quality campus that anybody would be happy to have as a neighbor.”

The Happy Days Farm expansion comes with expedited plans by the state Department of Transportation to improve highways associated with the project, specifically routes 100 and 113 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The “transportation improvements”, Ridge said, will make it possible for people in Lancaster and Reading to work at the Happy Days site once developed.

Wow. That was QUITE the investment offer on the part of the state, right? Funded by taxpayer dollars of Pennsylvanians, right?

I can tell you that the Daily Local featured an article in 2001 about an update to Vanguard’s then plans:

Vanguard updates plans for new campus
GRETCHEN METZ Mar 7, 2001  

The mutual fund company plans to build 2.5 million square feet of office space for 10,000 new employees next to the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Downingtown interchange on the former Happy Days Farm.

The location is desirable for employee recruiting, as well as employee commuting, Ralph K. Packard, Vanguard managing director and chief financial officer, told members of the Exton Region Chamber of Commerce.

Packard was guest speaker Tuesday at the organization’s March luncheon held at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Lionville.

Then the Daily Local had an update in 2008:

Vanguard presents Happy Days Farm site update
DANIELLE LYNCH May 1, 2008 Comments

UWCHLAN — Vanguard Group representatives presented sketch plans to Uwchlan’s supervisors Monday regarding a corporate campus to be built on the Happy Days Farm.

Back in 2000, the mutual fund company purchased the 245-acre dairy farm with the intention of turning it into office space, large enough for 10,000 employees. The farm is off Route 100, near the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Downingtown Interchange.

The plans received conditional-use approval for the project in 2000, according to Denise Yarnoff, the attorney representing Vanguard. The company received preliminary and final subdivision and land development approval of phase one of the project in 2001…

The entire master plan will be on 2.5 million square feet. And the corporate campus will be built on 2 million square feet. The new sketch plans call for a change from six large buildings to about 10 smaller buildings, Yarnoff said.

The new overall project plans show a decrease in impervious area. In 2001, the impervious coverage for the plans was 79.4 acres. The new sketch plans show the impervious coverage has decreased to 76.6 acres….In addition, the open space on the campus has increased from 48.7 percent in 2001 to 50.5 percent…..

In order to do this project, Route 100 will need to be widened between Route 113 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Downingtown Interchange and make Sheree Boulevard an overpass over Route 100.

As a result, PennDOT needs right-of-way approvals for seven parcels of land that have not been acquired yet, according to PennDOT spokesman Charles Metzger. The Vanguard Group has been partnering with PennDOT for the overall construction project of the roads, he said.

Now Happy Days Farm and Vanguard have popped up in articles for years according to my research today. For example, when State Senator Andy Dinniman was a County Commissioner he wanted Vanguard to help raise $20 million to preserve farmland in Chester County:

The county is hoping the state, local municipalities and Vanguard will chip in to help raise $20 million to preserve farmland in the northern part of the county.

“(Vanguard) is the largest job creation project in the commonwealth right now,” said County Commissioner Andrew Dinniman. “We thought we had a unique two-year window of opportunity before construction starts. We’re trying to get a head start on this.”

Vanguard, the nation’s second largest mutual fund firm and the county’s largest employer with headquarters in Malvern, is planning 2.5 million square-feet of office space for nearly 10,000 employees at its new campus on the site of the 245-acre Happy Days Farm on Route 100.

“We know once Vanguard starts to get built in a couple of years, there will be an enormous pressure to eat up this land and we want to preserve some of it,” said Dinniman….Wayne Clapp, assistant director of the county planning commission, said the proposal is consistent with the county’s Landscapes master plan.

“We prefer not to see development in the rural, natural landscape,” he said.

“They should be preserved, not built upon,” said Clapp. “Agriculture is still the largest industry in the county. We tend to think of farmland as open space, but it is an industry.”

Did that ever happen? Apparently not, but read on…..

In 2001 there was an article in The Daily Local about the effects of development on  traffic and now that we are in 2019 in my opinion, we can safely say NO ONE MUCH LISTENED and CLICK HERE FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE:

Over time, Atwater in East Whiteland and Tredyffrin, Valley Creek Corporate Center in West Whiteland and Vanguard’s corporate campus in Uwchlan, could generate a total of 26,000 new jobs and about as many additional cars on the roads.

Faced with those numbers, PennDOT already has road widening projects, new bridges and better signalization either under way or in the planning stages.

For commuters, it means more aggravation.

“That type of development means a regional draw,” said Chris Williams, senior project manager at McMahon Associates, a traffic planning firm with offices in West Whiteland….The county is seeing so much development, so much traffic, Kaiser said, any one development can cause a bottleneck at an intersection five or 10 miles down the road.

On the drawing board:

Vanguard Group is set to build a 2.5 million square foot corporate campus at Happy Days Farm on Route 100 in Uwchlan. It is still in due-diligence stage, said John Demming, Vanguard spokesman. Some 6,000 people could work there when it is completed, Demming said Valley Creek Corporate Center broke ground last month. When complete, the high-end office park developed by The Rubenstein Co. on Swedesford Road near routes 30 and 202 in West Whiteland will be made up of 1.75 million square feet in 17 buildings. It is expected to attract 7,500 to 10,000 employees. The 200-acre site was once owned by Church Farm School.

Atwater by developer Trammell Crow will be a 2.6-million-square-foot office complex for about 10,000 employees. It will be located at the former Cedar Hollow Quarry site between Route 29 and Yellow Springs Road.The 380-acre site straddles East Whiteland and Tredyffrin townships but the bulk of the development is slated for East Whiteland. Both Atwater and Valley Creek will affect Route 202

Also in 2001 was the Save Our Countryside Rally.  Also reported in The Daily Local:

‘Save Our Countryside’ rally turns emotional
Bajeerah Lowe Mar 18, 2001  

Fox hunting clubs, farmers and concerned citizens from the area, surrounding townships and even surrounding counties, voiced their concerns about the disappearing landscape of Chester County to state legislators and local organization leaders.

Originally scheduled to be held at the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show Grounds, the rally was moved to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church because of rain, said James Scharnberg, master of the Skycastle French Hounds of Chester Springs and organizer of the event.

State Sen. Jim Gerlach, R-44th of East Brandywine; state Rep. Curt Schroder, R-155th of Downingtown; county commissioners Andrew Dinniman and Colin Hanna; Eleanor Morris of the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust and John Hoekstra, director of Green Valley Association, addressed the crowd regarding the importance of making their voices heard and saving open space.

Two local development plans in Wallace and Uwchlan were at the forefront of residents’ minds….The other development that concerns citizens and politicians alike is the Vanguard construction, which is to begin in two years, at Happy Days Farm, where Route 100 meets the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Uwchlan. The site will employ between 8,000 and 10,000 people.

According to Dinniman, the county has put up $5 million for farmland preservation in the area. The county is asking its three other partners — the state, the township and Vanguard — to contribute $5 million each, bringing the total to $20 million. “The only way to save open space is to save the farms and help the farmers financially,” Dinniman said. “Part of stewardship is to help us preserve land of Chester County. They are not exactly impoverished and can help us in this aspect.”

All of the speakers encouraged the crowd to let their voices be heard. “I believe the answer is the community has to mobilize,” Dinniman said following the rally. “The key is the voice. What I have heard was a deep anger level, a concern, a plea for change. Public officials need to listen and use every ounce of energy to answer the plea. The key is to keep the voice going so it can be heard.”

That is key: “concerns citizens and politicians alike.”  So I challenge these officials still around like State Senator Andy Dinniman to look at the Happy Days Farm situation again. Why? Because as years passed, residents obviously grew complacent as in maybe this wasn’t happening.  Now residents have to pick up the cause of  saving our countryside once again and FAST.

People have already said to me the following about this situation:

“What are you going to start bitching about? This tract has been talked about for years as a mall, a big pharma company…even heard of it as possibly an amusement park. A casino wouldn’t be unlikely either. Hey maybe Amazon will think about it in lieu of their NYC site. Too bad we couldn’t convince Vanguard to develop it. I think some ecological issues slowed down the Vanguard start up years ago. Something about turtles, but not sure how true that was. Who knows what we will get now.”

To my armchair quarterbacks I say it is still a working farm. THAT is what I am bitching about it. What was proposed in the past does not have to be this farm’s future. It could have a preservation-minded future.

Agriculture as noted above was once Chester County’s largest industry, right? Why not invest in THAT Vanguard? You guys do socially responsible investing, correct? What is more socially responsible that agricultural preservation in the county Vanguard calls home?  Seems win-win to me and face it Vanguard, you can AFFORD to do this, can’t you?

Really and truly I cannot stand this anymore.  Every week it seems it’s another farm. Another historically important piece of architecture.  Where has all of the preservation gone?

Someone else said to me today:

“Happy Days Farm represents a lynchpin development opportunity connecting the turnpike Eagleview development to the 113 corridor – once it falls contiguous open space to the east will diminish rapidly.”

Skip ahead to 2014 and an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  We should have paid more attention because now I ask, was this a warning of the future a/k/a our present?

PhillyDeals: Assets grow, employment slows at Vanguard
Posted: February 16, 2014 – 3:01 AM
By Joseph N. DiStefano, Inquirer Staff Writer

For a view of the “jobless recovery” – there are still fewer Americans employed today than in 2008, despite rising business profits and share prices – take a look at what has changed at Vanguard Group’s Chester County campus. And what hasn’t.

Vanguard assets have tripled, to nearly $3 trillion, since the stock market bottomed out five years ago. Its popular index portfolios, targeted-date retirement funds, and other products now account for nearly one-fifth of the U.S. mutual fund industry…..Way back in 1999, Vanguard proposed a second multimillion-square-foot office center, at Happy Days Farm just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike exit in Lionville, Uwchlan Township….The state of Pennsylvania said it was ready to grant up to $55.5 million in aid if Vanguard met its hiring goals…..But Happy Days hasn’t been needed, and the state didn’t have to provide any grants….it has cut back on the platoons of young, hourly “crewmembers” who answered phone calls from investors.

“We don’t have a goal of having fewer people at Vanguard,” said Chris McIsaac, boss at Vanguard’s Institutional Investor Group, …. “But if we can do more with the same number of people, that’s a good thing for our clients.”….As office demand has fallen, Vanguard has negotiated lower taxes, based on the reduced value investors are now willing to pay for suburban office space….Vanguard expects to keep adding assets. But it’s no longer planning for large or rapid employment growth, Reed said.

“Like every company in America, we’ve got to be more efficient tomorrow than today,” Reed added.

That article by Joseph Di Stefano tells us RIGHT THERE what some media is reporting to us this week. This 2014 article was laying out the groundwork for dumping Happy Days Farm out of their real estate portfolio, wasn’t it? Of course this article also spells out what happened to that grant money – it just seems like it evaporated as an offer as time passed, didn’t it?

To me that also says that Vanguard is also now in part perhaps just paying lip service to calling Chester County “it’s home” and I subject to you the following for consideration: if someplace else offered them a sweeter plum for the picking than all the municipalities which have bent over and kissed the corporate rear end of Vanguard all these years in Chester County would they stay? I wonder.

Heck we should have paid closer attention in 2012 when this article on Vanguard and their real estate hopscotching came out:

Main Line Suburban Life: Vanguard expanding, agrees to buy neighboring Pfizer property
By Gretchen Metz
gmetz@journalregister.com Sep 7, 2012

TREDYFFRIN – Vanguard Group Inc. confirmed on Thursday that it has signed an agreement to purchase the neighboring Pfizer property.

Vanguard spokesman John Woerth said he could not disclose the purchase price, though published reports put the deal at $40 million.

For Vanguard, the purchase was all about location.

“This is a stone’s throw from our current Malvern headquarters,” Woerth said, explaining why Vanguard is making the investment. “We had the opportunity to purchase a property close to our current property at a reasonable price.”….

Vanguard also owns Happy Days Farm on Route 100 in Uwchlan. It purchased the 250-acre property in 2000 with the intent to turn it into an upscale corporate campus. Some road work has been done since then, but no buildings have been started.

Worth said while Vanguard continues to own the property, “there are no plans to develop it at this time.”

The signs have been there all along. Sigh.

Vanguard is a financial powerhouse. As per their numbers, the assets under management are  5.1 trillion USD (January 31, 2018). They also are in the news that the have socially responsible, environmentally responsible ETFs.

As Marketwatch said at the end of September, 2018 of Vanguard and their heightened responsible awareness:

Can you afford to be a responsible investor?

That’s the question that has plagued pensions and individual investors alike as they consider financial products dedicated to environmental, social and governance criteria. In two recent polls, a majority of institutions and high-net-worth investors concluded fees were too high to justify an allocation….Just this month, Vanguard, arguably the czar of low-fee fund offerings, jumped into the ESG fray with the Vanguard ESG US Stock ETF ESGV, +0.54%  and the Vanguard ESG International Stock ETF VSGX, +0.14%  offerings. The funds will track the holdings of the FTSE US All Cap Choice and FTSE Global All Cap ex US Choice indexes — two ESG indexes — and fees are slated at 0.12% and 0.15%, respectively. The funds will incorporate elements some elements from more traditional Socially Responsible Investing (“SRI”) by excluding certain “sin stocks” such as those in adult entertainment, alcohol, tobacco, and weapons, and the funds will also exclude fossil-fuel firms from its investment portfolios. From there, the funds will apply an ESG overlay to the stock portfolios. The fund will also attempt to maximize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in its investment decisions.

Hmmm. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  Do you know what they are? No? Well I am glad you are interested so allow me to list them off of the United Nations website:

The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world:

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life Below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

Look at that: sustainable cities and communities and climate action and life on land and zero hunger just to pull out a few points. A great working farm surviving would play a role in that, right?  So many of these goals could be applied to saving a working farm they own, can’t you agree?

So Vanguard? I realize that although Jack Bogle founded you some would argue if you were really still the firm of Jack Bogle, yes?  But can you still be enough of Jack Bogle’s firm that maybe you would consider putting your socially responsible money where your corporate mouth is?

A company with TRILLIONS in assets could indeed work something out with a nature conservancy and donate the land into preservation.  The land could be preserved and still have tenant farmers.

Vanguard, you bring a lot of people to Chester County.  But if you sell this land to developers you put another nail in the coffin of Chester County’s industry of agriculture and the agricultural history and traditions.  Vanguard, if you sell to developers a parcel this big will not be open space it will be developed up as quickly as developed plans can get through, correct?

Vanguard, if you want to pay homage to where you call home, save this parcel and BE socially responsible by doing so. We don’t grow our food on the roof of Whole Foods and Wegman’s do we? We still need agrarian values and landscapes, don’t we?

Chester County, this farm land is not sold yet.  As a county can we at least try to change the conversation here? Save our countryside?

#SaveOurCountryside

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bleak house

The photograph above is of Loyd Farm’s farmhouse. The photo was taken by my friend Robin Ashby, the editing is all mine. I wanted something to accurately reflect how I was feeling after hearing the little bits of snippets I have heard regarding the commissioners’ meeting in Caln last night.

Bleak and disgusted is how I am feeling.

Apparently the Valentine’s Day gift to residents was sharing the tidbit of joy that the developer of this parcel has submitted a demolition permit and it has been approved? Does anyone have a copy of the demolition permit and demolition permit application? They are things that can be obtained via a right to know form. And Caln can try to stall you on that but it is the right for the public to see that. Caln does have a right to know form and you can find it by CLICKING HERE.

It’s time to start peeling back the rotten layers of this moldy political onion isn’t it? Who really runs Caln Township? The commissioners seem like a bunch of sheeple don’t they? And yes I know some are going to take umbrage with that descriptive adjective of their beloved commissioners, but people who are really interested in land preservation, historic preservation, open space preservation, and more actually try to do more for their residents don’t they?

I have always been a realist. I know you can’t save every old house. But what I don’t understand is why no one is willing to try to save this old house? I believe the people who have told me that the building envelope is intact enough for restoration. After all, we have seen what has happened in other parts of Chester county when it comes to old houses and restoration haven’t we?

Three examples of this for me are the following: Loch Aerie Mansion, Linden Hall (even if I don’t like what’s going on there now, that is a true comparable to the Lloyd Farm’s farmhouse as far as condition and even age and I think the condition of Linden Hall was probably worse when they started restoring it), and The Covered Wagon Inn in Strafford. Loch Aerie and Linden Hall are in East Whiteland and The Covered Wagon Inn is in Tredyffrin.

And even Toll Brothers has saved historic farm houses and structures on several properties they have developed. That doesn’t mean I am suddenly condoning their cram plan density of their developments in Chester County, but even they have managed to save a few historic structures haven’t they? On Church Road in Malvern is there not an old farmhouse that was definitely open to the elements that they are in the process of restoring for that new development right there? There is another one in Chester Springs isn’t there? And that one in Chester Springs was in horrible shape – it was on a dirt road when I sought I think since then the dirt road has been paved to a regular road.

And don’t forget DuPortail House in Chesterbrook. Chesterbrook was a horribly contentious development back in it’s day and even there the historic farmhouse was preserved. Now every year multitudes of brides get married and have their receptions there. Other events occur there. People love it.

In Caln, what else does this developer own? Is Loyd Farm just part of a larger plan yet to unfold? Is it true that this developer is also the owner of County Propane in Downingtown?

I don’t have those answers but I have to tell you at this morning I am tremendously upset because I feel like a narrative is being crafted and molded to suit the ends of a future development if that makes sense? There seems to be almost this mynah bird repetitiveness that is emerging about how the farmhouse is not salvageable and is not restorable and how do we know this is actually true?

When did what communities wanted for themselves stop mattering? This whole thing about demolishing the Lloyd Farmhouse reminds me of when La Ronda was demolished in Bryn Mawr. When La Ronda was demolished around 2009 it was because in the end because the property owner could, not because he had to, remember? And that gentle readers, is the catch 22 of living in a private property rights state like the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s not necessarily right, but it is their right.

However what happened to elected and appointed officials who actually cared about where they called home? When did we the people literally stop mattering?

Whether it’s pipeline companies, developers, billboard companies and more why is it that it seems like everything they want matters more than what the people who live in the communities want?

Our history matters in Chester County. Our equine and agricultural history matters and farms are just disappearing day by day to developments. This developments come in and everything gets jacked including the taxes and how are farmers supposed to be able to afford to farm? The short answer is they often can’t and they just want to get out. At this current pace we are going to turn into a county that has to import all of its food.

The Chester county farmhouse is a classic and well-known architecture style. You know, like actual carriage houses? And in development after development they tell you they are mimicking farmhouse style and carriage house style so why not save some of the actual farm houses and carriage houses for Christ’s sake?

I was told by a resident and have not yet researched it on my own the following: Mary Louise Lloyd sold the property to nuns to build a hospital on in the 1970s – supposedly 1976. Then Mrs. Lloyd built her own house on Lloyd Avenue. Apparently then she opened something called Copeland Run Academy and lived and worked there. She donated the land that is Lloyd Park to Caln when she sold the farm. That of course is the recent history and again, the history of Lloyd Farm also known throughout history as Valley Brook Farm goes back to a Penn Land Grant.

We can’t just keep bulldozing our history. That’s as plain as I can state it.

#SaveLloydFarm

#ThisPlaceMatters

like visiting an old friend: going back to baldwin’s book barn

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Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night, have a passing thought, go back to sleep?  Well, my weird passing thought in the wee small hours overnight was I had not been to Baldwin’s Book Barn on Lenape Road in literally about 20 years!

I am and always have been a bibliophile. A bookworm. A book hoarder. I love my books.  They have moved with me thoughout my life. Even books from my childhood. Books from my parents. Cookbooks. History books. Gardening books. Fiction by Laura Ingalls Wilder to Daphne DuMaurier to Elizabeth Goudge to Marguerite de Angeli to Dickens to Robert Frost and the list goes on.  I married another bibliophile.  We love out books and they are all over the house in various bookshelves.

Growing up I loved the book store at Bryn Mawr College known as The Owl.  The college disbanded the beloved Owl years ago to make way for progress. There is still The Title Page in Bryn Mawr (which was started originally by ladies who were at The Owl), and that is amazing, but for those of us in Chetser County, and book nuts in general, there is nothing like Baldwin’s Book Barn. Nothing.

And yes, when I popped awake in the middle of the night last night, my mind was on a big stone barn full of books…Baldwin’s Book Barn. What’s not to love? A giant Chester County stone barn built in 1822 filled to the rafters with books? Used books, out of print books, rare books, fun books, paperback books, bags of specially priced books….it’s book Nirvana…and it’s Chester County tradition.

As per their website:

William and Lilla Baldwin established their used book and collectible business in 1934 in nearby Wilmington, DE. In 1946 they moved to “The Barn”. The old milking house was converted into a residence for the Baldwin Family and the stone barn became the bookshop and for some years, a country store museum. We are located deep in the heart of the enchanting and historical Brandywine Valley. Baldwin’s Book Barn is one of America’s truly distinctive bookstores. Step inside and you are transported to another time and place. Today, our store is stuffed to the rafters with a treasure trove of 300,000 used and rare books, manuscripts, maps as well as fine paintings, prints, estate antiques, and other valued collectibles.

Store Hours: 10AM – 6PM Every Day
Except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
Baldwin’s Book Barn
865 Lenape Road, West Chester, PA 19382
Phone: 610-696-0816        E-mail: info@bookbarn.com

So when I woke up woke up this morning and my husband asked what else I would like to do today, I said “let’s go to Baldwin’s Book Barn.”  So to the Book Barn we went. And it was like visiting a fondly remembered old friend.

Ahhh the smell of books greets you still even with the door just cracked!!!  And the door still creaked the same was going in. Still the same smell of woodstove fires. And still the same floor to ceiling books! I will note they still have a terrific Wyeth section and Chester County section.

We went from bottom to top, top to bottom. I bought a couple of cookbooks. It is nice that some things remain the same in this life.

I will note as an aside as I overheard this, that they could use firewood for their woodstove cut to 14″ or 15″ lengths if you can GIVE them any.  There are enough woodstove folks in Chester County and so many people with firewood, how about paying it forward a little?

Here are some photos I took.  I will note with amusement that I never knew Paris Hilton wrote a book. I had a lovely time and won’t wait 20 years to go back. Go buy a book!

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goats!!!

It’s an open farm weekend at Yellow Springs Farm so we stopped by to visit goats 🐐 and pick up a couple of native plants for the garden.

Yellow Springs Farm is open until 4 PM today Saturday and tomorrow (Sunday, September 2 from 10 AM – 4 PM)