a good old fashioned crawfish boil…in chester county

It was a hot and steamy, but beautiful day. We went to a crawfish boil at Chef Paul Marshall’s house. Yes, it was the annual Marshall’s Half Hill Farm crawfish boil. And like everything else Paul and his wife Julie do, it was awesome!

People know Chef Paul Marshall locally because of Farm Boy Fresh. But he is a chef with incredible credentials.

From his childhood on the bayou in rural Louisiana, Chef Paul Marshall always showed a passion for cooking. During seven years under the watchful eye of Fernando Oca he learned classical French technique.

Chef Marshall then returned to his New Orleans roots to work under Emeril Lagasse at Commander’s Palace. There he further developed his passion for “the new” New Orleans cuisine; a melting pot of French, Spanish and American flavors.

Chef Marshall was part of the team that opened the Four Seasons in Florence, the Executive Chef at the Hong Kong Sheraton and Chef De Cuisine of Oscars, the French Brasserie in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel…and now he calls Chester County home.

My husband and I have been really lucky, and have been a guest of the Marshalls at their home. Paul’s wife Julie, has her own amazing credentials in world of food, having been with the James Beard Foundation for many years. She is also a terrific gardener.

So today was all about fun and food and friends and family. It was just so nice. And the food was, as always, off the hook.

The crawfish were flown in live and fresh from Louisiana. They weren’t those frozen little tasteless things that are called crawfish other places. These were fresh and succulent. Lobster’s little freshwater cousins were enjoyed by all!

Thanks for stopping by.

more devon drama: much ado about devon

Yes, I put up this comment. Because that is how I feel. The drama around Devon is seemingly endless…and the intrigue. And to me it does feel (right or wrong) like a Main Line Watergate.

And maybe some of y’all don’t like me saying that, and truly I don’t care.

Do any of you have ANY idea how many contact me about Devon? And how many of those people are contacting me for me to contact media on their behalf with whatever it is they are telling me? And then there is the telling me not to tell them who they are?

No, I won’t discuss who is contacting me, I have honor and a sense of right and wrong. But I can’t tell the story for all of you. When I try to explain that, and explain I can’t just pass what they tell me along unsourced from anonymous sources, I am accused of being hostile.

That’s not hostility, I am being honest and blunt. This is not my story. I pretty much stopped going to Devon consistently in 2012 because I didn’t like what even I was seeing.

In my opinion, the cracks have been showing for years but I actually think now the event and event week is in serious trouble. What happens when one of these events isn’t held for a certain number of consecutive years?

Maybe some don’t like my opinion but it has always been my opinion that if Devon Horse Show failed it would just be a big development site.

This is the corporate board:

This is the foundation board, etc:

I will be honest and say that I don’t understand the cross-pollination between the boards. I also am of the opinion the boards should NOT have the same chairman. I am also of the opinion (and I am allowed to think it) that a lot of the issues surrounding the Devon horse show involve the chairman, correct??

And the chairman (yes, I am using a lowercase C because I don’t think he deserves the upper-case C), seems to wield such power? Why is he the all powerful Oz? Do we not remember about the wizard behind the curtain ending up exposed and not being what they thought he was? Or the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes?

I have heard all the stories, so has most of the local media. Yet nothing changes at Devon and every time something is written about Devon it’s less and less positive isn’t it? The last negativity was the show being canceled again. I wrote about this as well as quite a few media sources and equestrian blogs.

Then recently, Savvy Main Line dished Devon again:

📌With so many accusations and dark theories floating around, Devon Horse Show and Country Fair felt the need to issue not one, but two statements explaining its decision to cancel the show for the second straight year……..Others suspect the show, twice cancelled, might never return. Hadn’t it outgrown its tight quarters? Legacy shows are a dying breed and the demise of Devon was inevitable, wasn’t it? Might the board vote to keep the country fair in Devon, move the horse show elsewhere and sell the horse grounds to developers and should we proactively seek an easement to prevent development of the land? Isn’t there a USEF rule that nixes horse shows that are cancelled two years in a row? COVID was an act of God, but still…📌

There is all this back-and-forth and somewhere in there lies the truth. And the people who want the show to go on are contacting bloggers like me and local media like Savvy and similar people. We are all being told the same thing. But we are also all being told that we can’t disclose their names and can we pass it on to other media but still we can’t disclose names. It doesn’t work like that.

I have spent the better part of the past few days feeling like deep throat out of Watergate. Yes, a 1972 reference to the informant who shared with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein all the Watergate stuff. Woodward and Bernstein were reporters for the Washington Post.

I can’t tell this complete story. Savvy and other local media can’t tell this complete story. The people who know the story have to step forward out of the shadows and into the light and tell the story. They have to stand behind the story they want everyone else to take the risk to tell.

I’m not trying to be mean, but these people whom I actually believe to be in the know, have to decide if they wish to hang onto moldering boxes for a dying event, or if they want to come forward for the greater good to save and preserve this tradition for future generations?

Now before everyone gets all up in arms over that statement I know everyone can’t come forward. But I do know that some people can come forward. And at this point the kind of have to. If people don’t come forward and everything is anonymous tip, nothing will change.

Does the chairman actually have power over these people or do they just allow him to have perceived power over them? What happens if people come forward and tell the truth and shame the devil?

I get harassed by someone every time I write about this topic or refer to something someone else has written. As a matter of fact I get harassed about more than I tell my readers about. I am kind of getting tired of miserable people. Today I had someone tell me I was being hostile because I refused to carry their water over Devon.

And then there was the person who had to give me hell because I described the rotting colonial era farmhouse that is part of the Clews & Strawbridge property which sells boats in Frazer as being “demolition by neglect“ when that’s exactly what it is and I’m entitled to that opinion. “Who told you to say that?” they said. I mean do they have eyes in their head? Can they not see what that house looks like? And they were going to “report me”; and then got mad because I asked if they were going to report me to the opinion police because what I stated it was in fact, my opinion.

Also today? The crack pots who think people are being racist and putting forward social injustices by using the word thug with regard to invasive plants. Thug plants is something commonly said with regard to invasive plants. It’s all about the context of how a word is used. In this context the word thug is being used to describe aggressive, invasive plants. Said plants don’t get hurt feelings, don’t feel racism. People feel and experience racism, but not in the context of plants. Therefore I personally must be racist and intolerant because I think their argument over the term plant thugs is utterly ridiculous.

There is an abundance of keyboard warriors since the onset of COVID. Basically they want to tell everybody how to think, how to act, how to feel, and when to do all of the above. But they don’t want to get involved. They can’t just bitch at me and actual media sources all of the time. Sometimes we can tell your story, or part of your story, but ultimately it’s not our tale to tell. It’s yours,

Some things around Devon horse show I think that might be worth talking about is doing something like maybe create a community trust to buy the land and run Devon Horse Show in perpetuity. This isn’t my idea, this is a friend of mine‘s idea who pointed out that the football team the Green Bay Packers are owned by this type of trust. They also made the salient point that there’s more than enough money in this area to do that. And if they could raise $900,000 or whatever the amount was to try to put the horse show on this year in like 12 hours, why couldn’t they do something like this?

I do think in the short term the people who know board members need to start working those board members. There needs to be a separation of church and state immediately of the corporate board and the foundation board. And these boards shouldn’t have the same chairman. And more of both boards needs to be able to think and act independently of the chairman, correct?

Devon needs another palace coup or in my opinion this downward spiral might not stop. But the “insiders” need to step forward to do this if they really want change. Bloggers and the most local of media can’t do this for y’all. You need to step forward and tell your story.

Here is some of the Devon crap of the past few years:

Inquirer: Devon Horse Show chairman resigns amid development debate by By Tricia L. Nadolny, Inquirer Staff Writer
Published Mar 2, 2014

Racked Philadelphia: Controversy Puts Urban Outfitters’ New Lifestyle Center on Pause By Julie Davis Mar 4, 2014, 10:29am EST

Anonymous letter spurs questions over Devon Horse Show, proposed Devon Yard, Urban Outfitters By Linda Stein Oct 7, 2014 Updated Nov 9, 2018

SARAH COXE LANGE IS ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE DEVON HORSE SHOW

UPDATE: Devon Horse Show board ousts president, chairman
By Linda Stein Dec 22, 2014 Updated Nov 9, 2018

Inquirer: Ousted Devon Horse Show president calls change a ‘hostile takeover’ by By Justine McDaniel, Inquirer Staff Writer
Published Dec 23, 2014

Ousted Devon Horse Show box holders demand reinstatement
By Linda Stein May 21, 2015

Devon Horse Show chairman pleads guilty to disorderly conduct citation. Devon Horse Show chairman pleads guilty to disorderly conduct citation. By Richard Ilgenfritz
rilgenfritz@21st-centurymedia.com
@rpilgenfritz on Twitter Jul 22, 2016 Updated Oct 3, 2016

Devon Horse Show chief says he was ‘boisterous,’ not drunk By Grace Toohey, STAFF WRITER Published Jul 21, 2016

chester county landmarks and a chester county artist

A while ago, in between people cursing me out on my blog’s facebook page for daring to discuss things rationally out of their comfort zone, I had posted something and a relative of the Chester County artist Henry T. MacNeill told me about his pen-and-ink sketches. So I hunted down a copy of this super cool little book that was full of his sketches, done by his family printers owned by his son, Stephen Moylan, for Chester County Day in 1956.

Ok so how cool is that to stumble across thanks to one of my readers? I am also including an article about the Stephen Moylan Press.

We are nothing without our history.

I am also including links embedded here because sometimes people have a hard time with Scribd.

What I realized as I got into this was I often see Henry MacNeill drawings as vintage postcards! A website Postcard History wrote about Mr. MacNeill this summer. I also found an old blog post by one of Mr. MacNeill’s great granddaughters Jennifer MacNeill (who is also a brilliant artist and photographer.)

Now a plug for Chester County Day. This is a beloved Chester County Tradition. COVID-19 forced them off their normal routine and they have done virtual tours (CLICK HERE TO TAKE THEM.) They also need our donations to keep the tradition alive. CLICK HERE TO MAKE A CHESTER COUNTY DAY DONATION. I will be doing so before year end.

Happy Sunday!

more foodie fun….in glenmoore!

It is just a foodie fun weekend this weekend. This evening we went to Glenmoore Deli and Country Market which is located at 1941 Creek Road, Glenmoore, PA 19343. (Phone 610-942-4321)

The proprietress/chef is Christie Keith and she is another kitchen wizard I am lucky to know. Her place is a cool little joint in the delightfully sleepy village of Glenmoore. It’s a weekend breakfast and lunch place and it’s another hidden gem that more need to visit.

I will warn you, it’s a cell signal no man’s land, so call ahead to make sure they are open and when you get there, you unplug and enjoy your meal.

I know, I know I have kind of turned into a breakfast and lunch and brunch person. It’s what I really like.

Every once in a while, Christie does a special dinner. There is no liquor license here, so you can BYOB but a lot of people just don’t. There is always some wonderful teas or lemonade or coffee or infused water served.

This evening it was a Polish dinner. It was nothing short of amazing. Pierogis that were delicious and light and fluffy. Kielbasa. Tiny meatballs on fresh arugula. Borscht. All sorts of homemade fresh pickles. Cucumber salad. Kolaczki. Honey Almond Cake.

It was delicious. We were seated with a lovely local couple as the tables are sort of family style after a fashion. People came with their families, and young and old and every age in between, we just enjoyed a wonderful meal.

Christie is calling this her Comfort Food Series and we can’t wait for the next one!

Check out Glenmoore Deli and Country Market for breakfast or lunch one weekend. They have a Facebook page so keep an eye out for Christie’s next fun dining adventure!

capturing chester county photo contest: have you entered?

fall for clm

My contest winning entry in 2014!

So you guys, have you entered County Lines Magazine Capturing Chester County photography contest yet?? You don’t have to be a professional (as in they only regular everyday folk who happened to capture the perfect shot!) , you just have to have a magical photo of our beautiful county to enter!

Yes, I indeed won the contest in 2014! I was so thrilled and it was so much fun and as a book worm, there is nothing better than a nice big gift certificate to a book store! This year the gift certificate is to Main Point Books, which if you have never been is nothing short of amazing! You can enter until October 7th.

Here are the details:

We’re holding our annual Capturing Chester County Photo Contest, and need more submissions! 
This year, we’re asking entrants to send us their one best photo of them in their favorite spot in Chester County.
(Shadows, photos with feet or hands work if you don’t want a full selfie.)
Semifinalists will be published in our November issue and posted on our Facebook page.
The winner of the contest will receive a $100 gift card to Main Point Books!
Our submission deadline is 11:59 pm on October 7.
Previous County Lines’ photo contest winners and professional photographers are not allowed.
Our rules and how to submit are our website: http://bit.ly/2lSLvm4

The short version?

  1. Like them on Facebook @CountyLinesMagazine.
  2. Upload & hashtag your 1 best photo #capturingchestercounty OR send it to info@valleydel.com.
  3. Tell them when and where it was taken. (i.e. “West Chester, August 2018”)

Oh come on!!!  It is so fun to be a part of it!  If I were allowed to, I would enter again!

capturing chester county

life’s patina fall barn sale is this weekend!!

This evening was an absolutely perfect night for one of the first fall events of the season! We attended the Fall Preview Party for Life’s Patina.

Meg Veno outdid herself as always! This evening’s charitable recipient was Cuddle My Kids , a local non-profit which provides in home no cost cancer support for families in and around Chester County. As a cancer survivor I deeply appreciate these smaller charities which work so hard to help families and give them a bit of a break.

Life’s Patina is packed to the gills with so many cool things! And we also had a chance to chat with Jeff Devlin of Schoolhouse Woodworking.

The fall barn sale is this weekend September 20th through September 22nd! 10 AM to 5 PM Friday and Saturday and 10 AM to 4 PM on Sunday. 1750 North Valley Road, Malvern, PA.

It’s a fun sale and the barn is also full of decorating tableaux for lack of a better description. Meg has an amazing eye, and I am always inspired!

what fun it was listening to annie guilfoyle at terrain!

IMG_6604Terrain is doing these gardening-centric events.  Yesterday at Terrain Devon Yard was “What Makes Your Garden Great with Annie Guilfoyle”.

Annie Guilfoyle is an amazing British horticulturist. An award-winning designer and an RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal winner. For 18 years she was the director of Garden Design at KLC School of Design at Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, where she was instrumental in establishing their highly acclaimed garden design courses.

IMG_6602Those who know me well know that I am a total garden geek especially when it comes to my British horticulturalists.   Like did you know Monty Don was rumored to have been at Chanticleer recently? How I would have loved to have even just watched him work!

My list of UK citizens I would love to listen to lecture on all things gardening are Monty Don, Adam Frost, Alan Titchmarsh, Joe Swift, Carol Klein, Helen Dillon, and Annie Guilfoyle.  Yesterday I got to listen to and meet Annie!!  I knew who she was because of her garden course at Chanticleer, which is as follows (and on my to do list except WOW it is really EXPENSIVE):

Course Description:

Learn about designing gardens with highly acclaimed British designer, Annie Guilfoyle. This carefully crafted course will guide you through each stage of the design process, beginning with the fundamentals of surveying and site analysis. Followed by essential techniques of how to initiate the design, where to find inspiration, and how to develop a creative concept into a stunning garden.

Together with the Chanticleer staff, Annie will focus on ways of achieving imaginative ideas for hardscaping, along with how to perfect dazzling planting combinations and realize innovative designs for original furniture and sculpture.

This course is ideally suited to students of garden and landscape design and people working in the garden industry, or for those who simply want to redesign their own garden capturing the essence of Chanticleer under Annie’s guidance. The course includes practical studio sessions, lectures and demonstrations, garden walks, and critical analysis. Annie will be including up-to-date information and inspiration about what is happening on the UK garden scene.

Price:

$675.00 – Price includes garden admission, breakfast and lunch each day, and an opening reception.

To be honest, I know how to make my garden come to life and evolve, but the ability to be able to learn from an expert like Annie would be priceless.  And it would give me a more formal background to what has been instinctive and trial and error in my garden through a lifetime of just loving to garden.

IMG_6614.JPGTerrain had these Coffee + Conversation garden talks, and launched an additional series of garden “guidance” with each conversation led by a horticulturalist. Each Garden Guide conversation they do will feature an esteemed speaker in the horticultural world who will give tips, tricks, and valuable plant knowledge across a variety of garden topics. Each session will focus on a new area of exploration. And did I mention to be able to hear Annie was only $5??? (And they are having an awesome one in Glen Mills in August but I digress.)

So I was like a kid waiting for Christmas yesterday and Annie did not disappoint.  I do not know what it is about British horticultural experts but they are so NICE and welcoming.  And they share their knowledge without artifice. It is so refreshing.

Annie opened with what she was about: Worked at Hampton Court for years. Did a garden at Chelsea while a student. Did a BBC show small town gardens. Wears several hats and is also a garden writer. Teaches garden courses and loves teaching.  She judges garden shows all over the world as well.

Other things she said which resonated with me include: You can’t be a garden designer without being a gardener first.  In that vein, her students were sent to work in nurseries and gardens to learn.

Annie said gardens are a sanctuary from what is going on in this world. How true is that? It’s like I say everything is better after I have been in the garden digging in the dirt. Annie also believes the arts and horticulture have a strong connection.

IMG_6626When it comes to garden design, Annie is old school. She feels you can’t design gardens without looking at the proportions. People should draw out a garden plan or build a little model- don’t use computer software. So I guess my caveman like plot plans over the years are a step in the right direction after all!! (Yes I have notebooks here and there with little rudimentary sketches.)

IMG_6617So how do you make a great garden?  What are your influences? Architecture? Other gardens? Other gardeners?  Look at the links between architecture and landscape design and remember art, architecture, and gardens are inextricably linked.  Remember that landscapes should influence you.

Like many of us not so expert gardeners, Annie Guilfoyle believes a garden can change how people behave, and how they view the world.  Gardens are happy places. Relaxing places. Contemplative places. Natural classrooms.

One thing that Annie remarked on was Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC. I have been there but literally not for decades. Harvard owns it apparently? I do not know that I realized that when I was more frequently in Washington DC many years ago but I was sad to learn last night that the gardens are in disrepair? They were so beautiful, how can that be? I mean come on it’s Harvard and they have the money, right?

Sigh. That’s the thing about gardens sometimes in the USA. They aren’t treasured enough.

I have a bucket list of garden things I want to do. Among them is hit the flower shows in England and tour great gardens and small gardens and wander through UK plant nurseries which apparently for the most part have show gardens so customers can see the plants in situ.

IMG_6646Annie explained she  doesn’t have a definitive style per se,  she designs for her clients’ sensibilities.  She also believes focal points are an important concept in garden design and they draw you in.

IMG_6632Annie also stressed it was important to celebrate all elements of the garden, even the functional bits like sheds. She apparently has a love affair going on with this enclosure for her trash cans!

Annie encouraged us to create a sense of journey in a garden. And if you aren’t designing your own garden by yourself make sure you take interest in it so the end result is your personal vision.

She gave us a list of things to follow:

  • Be original
  • Key design ingredients should include:
    Sanctuary
    Respite
    Simplicity
    Inviting
    Sustainability
    Structure
    Vertical and Horizontal gardening
    Focal Points
    Somewhere to sit
    Details.
  • Art in the garden is a wonderful thing.

Annie also suggested we do our garden homework- where will the plants go? Know the ideal environment for the plants you plant. And don’t forget the structure. Structure as in not just flowers, don’t forget  shrubs and trees and seasons. (You know how I have said the late garden writer and American horticulturalist Suzy Bales influenced my desire to have a garden for all seasons.

Her final advice? Don’t be afraid to be individual in your garden. And how true is that? You garden for yourself first.  Annie also reccomended a book on landscape design written by John Brookes called The Book of Garden Design. I picked up a copy of this inexpensively on Amazon.

I had the best time last night and my inner gardening geek was on overload.  And the space at Terrain was so lovely besides.  And the staff at Terrain are so welcoming. After the talk I got to meet Annie and some other gardeners and wander around Terrain outside.  They are so creative with their plantings especially containers that it is truly inspirational.

I look forward to more lectures in this series and I hope I get to listen to more talks by Annie Guilfoyle some day.  She is the kind of person you would want for a friend.

Thank you Terrain at Devon Yard for the opportunity you gave all of us!!

IMG_6643

 

 

happy 25th anniversary to the west chester growers market!!!

IMG_6363I missed all the political fanfare early this morning, but I did make it to the 25th anniversary of the West Chester Growers Market.

State Senator Andy Dinniman and Chester County Commissioners Michele Kichline and Terrence Farrell were there at the opening of today’s market to celebrate with everyone and present citations and proclamations.

But where oh where were the officials of West Chester Borough? Borough Council? I mean it is NO SECRET they have been discussing the lot on the corner of Chestnut and Church Streets again right?  And what developer and hotel owner want in on whatever is discussed, hmmm?  Oh the irony that they just discussed this again, what? This past week?

wcb

And no one from the Borough could come to the West Chester Growers Market in an official capacity to celebrate their 25th anniversary? The County and State felt they should be there, so why not the Borough?

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

Photo courtesy of County Commissioner Terrence Farrell’s Facebook Page.  He and Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline presenting a County citation to Paul “Bud” Hauser, an inspiration behind and one of the four original growers who founded the West Chester Growers Market 25 years ago. I think this is fabulous that they did this!!

Oh and my opinions are my own, by the way.  And sadly I think West Chester Borough needs to appreciate the organizations which bring people into the Borough weekly for 25 years, don’t you? The West Chester Growers Market brings people and farms and small food producers together. In a world filled with ugliness, this is something genuine and nice.

Today the market was bustling in spite of the crazy heat.  And the vendors were nice enough to have lots and lots of water on hand for customers. And ice cream!!  And balloons and face painting for kids!

IMG_6377

I love the West Chester Growers Market and it is pretty much the only one I patronize at this point since East Goshen seems to have given up on their farmers market which I think is a huge mistake since they have one of the most awesome locations.

The photos I took today were my own.  I am not compensated in any way for posting about the market. I post about the West Chester Growers Market because I love it and think it’s fabulous.

And if West Chester Borough Council gets their knickers in a twist because I do not feel in my opinion that they appreciate the market in all it’s fabulousness, tough noogies and am I wrong?

HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY WEST CHESTER GROWERS MARKET!! 

WE LOVE YOU IN CHESTER COUNTY!!

 

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when good conquers evil eminent domain you get lavender fields

Long ago is what feels to be now another lifetime, I was part of the original Save Ardmore Coalition. We were ordinary people who banded together to save friends’ and neighbors’ businesses from eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore PA.

Along our journey the wonderful people at the Institute for Justice helped us and taught us and encouraged us. Through IJ we also met some amazing and inspirational people.  (and if your community is facing eminent domain check out the Castle Coalition part of the IJ website.)

Here straight from IJ (Institute for Justice’s website success stories):

Pennsylvania
Ardmore
Through the grassroots and political processes, a citizens group called the Save Ardmore Coalition (SAC) successfully defeated Lower Merion Township’s attempt to seize and bulldoze 10 thriving businesses in Ardmore’s charming historic district. When it comes to grassroots activism, the SAC did it all — rallies, protests, publicity campaigns and coordinated efforts to unseat local officials who supported eminent domain abuse. Its members testified before state and local bodies urging the reform of eminent domain laws, attended the Castle Coalition’s national and regional conferences, and worked with the media to bring attention to their battle. In March 2006, the Township took its condemnation threats off the table — no doubt in response to the public outcry generated by the SAC.

Valley Township
It cost Nancy and Dick Saha $300,000 of their retirement savings and six hard years, but they prevailed in their bout with the City of Coatesville. The couple bought their Pennsylvania farmhouse in 1971, making lifelong dreams of owning a small horse farm a reality. With their five children, the Sahas moved to Chester County and restored their charming 250-year-old residence. Truly a family farm, two of their daughters married and built their family homes on the land, giving Nancy and Dick the chance to see their five grandchildren grow up next door.

When Coatesville threatened to take their property by eminent domain to build a golf course—plans for which didn’t even include their farm in the first place—the Sahas remained fully committed to a grassroots battle. They submitted three petitions, protested at local meetings and took their fight to court. Ultimately, the city council backed off when the Sahas pushed to elect new representatives, agreeing to purchase five acres that the Sahas had offered to give the government for free at the beginning of the dispute.

It was a crazy time. What we all went through was hard. It was a brutal battle.  We went to Washington alongside the Sahas, Susett Kelo (think Little Pink House), people from Long Branch NJ, and many many more.  It was the time of the US Supreme Court case Kelo vs. New London.

Dick and Nancy Saha were inspirational.  They created a hand off my farm movement. (You can read about it here on the Institute for Justice website in more detail.) They had a great deal of local, regional, and national news attention.  We all did. It was kind of crazy.

It cost the Sahas hundreds of thousands of dollars and pure grit and hard work and they saved their farm.

I used to love seeing Dick and Nancy Saha.  They are the nicest people and they would make the drive from the Wagontown area to even visit us in Ardmore when we were hosting events.

But time and life move on and we all got on with our lives after eminent domain.  I moved to Chester County.  And since I moved to Chester County  I have thought about the Sahas once in a while.  I thought about reaching out, but then I thought well the battle was over so maybe it would seem weird.  But I always wondered what happened to the Saha family after.

So this morning an article from Main Line Today popped up in a social media feed. About two sisters named Joanne Voelcker and wait for it….Amy Saha! Dick and Nancy Saha’s daughters and their lavender farm! (Lavender farm? Wait what?? How awesome!!)

Two Sisters Transformed Their Family’s Chester County Farm Into a 42-Acre Lavender Oasis
Amy Saha and Joanne Voelcker, the owners of Wagontown’s Mt Airy Lavender, have dedicated themselves to growing and harvesting seven different varieties of the plant.
BY LISA DUKART

In the heart of Chester County, there’s a little piece of Provençe, France, thanks to sisters Amy Saha and Joanne Voelcker. On their 42-acre Wagontown farm, some 1,200 lavender plants flourish. In the warm months, those fields are abuzz with bees and butterflies. They flit from plant to plant, drunk on the heady scent the flowers release as they sway in the breeze.

Creating and maintaining such an idyll has been no small feat. Saha and Voelcker’s Mt Airy Lavender has required years of dedication and hard work. Their parents bought the farm in 1971, moving their family from Media to the homestead just outside Coatesville. With love and care, its rundown 48 acres began to thrive.

Years later, in 1991, the city of Coatesville tried to build on the property, claiming eminent domain. After a six-year legal battle, the family won, losing just six acres in the process. As their parents aged, preserving the land they fought so hard to protect became more and more important to the sisters. They couldn’t bear to see it sold.

Over the years, Saha and Voelcker built their own homes on the farm to be near their parents. The houses sit on either side of a long, shaded driveway that wends by pastures where horses can be seen cropping the grass. One lavender field is right behind Voelcker’s home. She began planting it in 2012, a year after she and her husband returned from a five-year stay in Brussels. “I worked and lived over there,” says Voelcker, the former head of client insight and marketing technology at Vanguard. “I got a chance to visit the South of France, and I just fell in love with the lavender.”

Please take the time to read the entire article. It’s so wonderful. I am so happy for the Sahas and this new success I am am all choked up with emotion.  It is so awesome to hear about nice things happening to nice people in a world that some days is truly nuts.

I can’t wait to visit the farm on open farm days.  Via their Facebook page for Mt. Airy Lavender I found their website.

They have great products they make that you can order online and they hose all sorts of events .

Events that interest me are the upcoming open farm days and I hope my husband will want to check it out:

Visit us when the lavender is expected to be in bloom – Mt Airy Lavender Open Houses – Sat. June 22, Sun. June 23, Sat. June 29, Sun. June 30
Come visit Mt Airy Lavender these weekends when we expect the lavender to be in bloom. Shop our products, bring your cameras and a picnic lunch. Fresh cut lavender and a variety of lavender products will be available for purchase. We aren’t normally open to the public, so this is a great opportunity to enjoy the farm. Please note – we lost quite a bit of lavender due to all the rain and lack of sun. We are in the process of replanting. The farm is still quite beautiful so we hope to see you at our Open Houses.

We will be open 11 am to 4pm on:

Saturday, June 22 & Sunday, June 23

Saturday, June 29 & Sunday, June 30

Note: Bees love lavender, please be aware that bees will be attending the Open House as well. If you are allergic to them, please take special precautions!

Click here for directions to their slice of heaven.

What else makes me happy? Not just that this is still a farm and was saved, but how farmers in Chester County get creative to exist in today’s world.  See? We don’t need fields of plastic mushroom houses, we can have things like fields of lavender instead!

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Another view of the Saha Farm today courtesy of Mt. Airy Lavender 

chester county christmas memories of a more recent vintage: west chester and everyone loves a parade!

This 2014 photo comes from my high school friend Lee Ann Embrey. She is also one of the best photographers in Chester County.

The photo came with an attached message:

This is one of my favorite photos  (in the recent past) of the West Chester Christmas parade.  Feel free to use on your blog / great idea!  It is one of my favorite Chester County traditions to attend around the holidays.