Farming is important.
APRIL 2 UPDATE: The Borough of West Chester has posted something I am assuming because I posted the letter people kept sending to me yesterday.
I am posting the borough response in an effort to be fair. Which is not saying I believe them, is it?
Pursuant to that effort to be fair would it also be fair to say that the Borough of West Chester is casting aspersions upon my character because I dared state the opinion that every year it seems to be something else that is an impediment to one of the most popular and beloved markets? Why is it West Chester Borough can never seem to just renew the lease prior to opening day of the market? Is that small business friendly? Is that farmer friendly? Family friendly?
Also the Borough of West Chester letter was sent to me by PATRONS of the market some of whom are RESIDENTS of the Borough of West Chester. And last time I checked I can connect the dots and express my opinion unless we are all Pravda on this bus?? Do we still not have a First Amendment or is that also subjective to the capricious whims of small-town politics?
Here is their say and to them I say, if nothing nefarious is afoot the lease should have just been renewed without incident and the market should have merely been treated as the valuable community asset it is , correct?
But hey it’s ok if I think the Borough doth protesteth too much right? Keep those calls and emails up people, apparently they are feeling the heat? And pack that meeting because at the end of the day those borough council folks work for YOU right? Maybe next election cycle instead of recycling the political status quo residents should consider other options?
Can someone kindly explain to me WHY West Chester Borough seems hell bent on destroying the West Chester Growers’ Market? They seem enamored of the politically connected yet essentially not really anything other than an occasional pop-up food “co-op” (I touched on that in this post months ago) and why is the “co-op” the favored child?
Today is opening day of the market, and it is supposed to be a happy day. But once again something happy and festive feeling is once again marred, yes marred by the shenanigans of West Chester Borough. See this:
Once again, West Chester Borough is trying to rid West Chester of one of the area’s longest standing markets, doesn’t it?
Every year there is some sort of B.S. about the parking lot lease, isn’t there?
Every year this market is punished for being a successful market run by nice people, isn’t it?
Please turn out your support from far and wide for this market. Contact every member of West Chester Borough Council. Contact the media. Please help the market!
This is the meeting that the above letter says will discuss the fate of our favorite market:
Sign me disgusted.
Today I learned I was the darling new topic of conversation of a talk radio host, and I thought well if they are going to talk about this blog, maybe they can talk about this blog wanting folks to help our farmers at Thornbury Farm, right? Maybe they can ask their listeners in Chester County and elsewhere to help Thornbury Farm or one can only hope, right? The media could really help these folks right now by talking this up, right?
Thornbury Farm is located on Route 926 and S. New Street on Thornbury Rd in West Chester. (you know a stone’s throw from where Toll Brothers wants to destroy Crebilly Farm?)
After the recent snow/ice/wind event, Thornbury Farm experienced some awful damage from the weather. Their greenhouse/hoophouse collapsed because of the snow. I have friends who own a very large nursery concern in Massachusetts and I am familiar with what they have to do during the winter to keep snow from collapsing their greenhouses. Sometimes the timing is off and you do not get to things in time. The result is the photo you see above and this is really expensive to rectify.
Friends of Thornbury Farm and the Spackman family have put up a GoFundMe page to help our neighbor farmers at Thornbury defray the costs, the seriously steep costs of correcting what Mother Nature has done here.
Please, they are an over 300 year old still working farm. They are super nice people who do a lot for the community. The weight of the snow was too much for the poor greenhouse. The snow has caused about $8,000 in damages and they have crops to be planted in the next three weeks, their heirloom tomatoes. This is literally live or die time.
Some folks have rolled up on Thornbury Farm’s Facebook Page and been downright mean to these people about the greenhouse. It is a high tunnel greenhouse made by Farm Tek designed for this area’s snow load. This was an unusually heavy snow load. These are structures actually used in Alaska. It just did not hold. The weight was too great.
So all of you people out there near and far who love organic produce and locally produced produce? Please help these farmers save their farm and get a replacement greenhouse in time to get their crops started at the right time. They depend on these crops to keep the farm going.
In Chester County our farmers support us every day with their goods and services. Please help these farmers with a small donation – every little bit helps. Please pay it forward.
If you prefer to call them and/or send a check or money order:
Thornbury Farm was founded in 1709 with a stone house. The “main house” is the first quarried home in Pennsylvania and was built using the property’s own quarry. On this location, there stood a log cabin that was built in the 1600’s. The original owner was a blacksmith who used the abundant limestone to make flux in an old lime kilm.
The house was added to approximately every 80 years. The serpentine adition with its main stair case was used as the first public library in Chester County. In the mid 1800’s, a kitchen was added with a beehive oven. The oven doors still exist and this room eventually became a dining room. Finally, a modern kitchen was added in the 1940’s.
Over the years, other buildings were added including a large stone spring house, a bank barn in 1740 and another farm house in 1812. The 1812 house and the main house were later used as stops on the Underground Railroad.
The Farm is the site of the final troop engagement of the Battle of Brandywine, the largest land battle of the American Revolution. It was during this battle that our flag was displayed and fired upon by the British for the first time. All of the generals were visible to each other and each side suffered heavy losses and casualties.
During the battle, soldiers from the Continental Army had run up the farm’s stream to avoid a crushing pincer movement by the German Hessian soldiers. Instead, the Americans became trapped between the Hessians on South New Street and the English on the other side of the stream. So many Americans were shot and bayonneted, it was said the blood flowed over two miles to the Brandywine.
The West Chester Growers Market is the mother of all the locally sourced, outdoor farmers’ markets we know in this area. (Or that is my opinion.) They started right where they are now, at the corner of Church Street and Chestnut Streets in downtown West Chester Borough. They are, save one exception I will get to, a producers only market. As the market says on their website:
Producer-only requires that the fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants, beef, pork, eggs, flowers we have to offer you be farmed by the farmer that you meet at market; that the cheeses, salsas, sauces, pies, jams, pasta, honey, breads be sold to you by the local artisans who make them.
I was honored to be asked to be part of the West Chester Growers Market’s July 30th “Know Your Farmer: Chef and Media Event”. It was great to be among the ranks of local chefs, food writers, and well-known local food bloggers.
Last Saturday was brutally packed, but as I arrived for event check-in a little after 9:00 a.m., the market was already jam packed with customers. As I walked down a rear alley that T-bones the alley directly behind the market, the happy cacophony of people enjoying their morning, the market, and chatting with the farmers and artisan vendors could be heard floating in the morning air.
I will be honest, parking was a challenge. That is not the fault of the market, that is a chronic problem with the Borough of West Chester, unfortunately.
My first stop was a place that isn’t yet a place which is new to the market. The “West Chester Food Co-Op.” They are the non-producer with a place at the market.
Yes, I have been open about my skepticism. Can’t help it, given the chair of the “co-op” board and her position as Secretary of the West Chester Borough Planning Commission. I mean let’s get real: if it smells a wee bit political, it may well be political, right? I didn’t get when I commented way back when how they were asking for “donations” when they were not a non-profit and that is perfectly reasonable. If you are asking for money, and you ask for “donations”, it is what people naturally think.
I heard about them seeking a building and location and so on, and more asking for “donations”. So if they are NOT a non-profit, does that make those who invest shareholders with ownership rights in the new business? If the business goes nowhere, are people refunded their investment? And again, why call it a “donation” if you are in fact some sort of shareholder investing?
Anyway, when I last expressed my opinion on a co-op that doesn’t really exist the knives and scissors came out from some. So, sigh, I expect it again. But I have to ask are my questions/concerns so extraordinary? Seems to me a lot of people have them.
So, anyway, I thought I would be fair and give them a shot to tell me about themselves and answer my questions. I wouldn’t be rude, but they are part of the market as of 2016, so I figured why not talk to them? (I will note they did not seem to participate in this market initiative, but benefited from it.) I went up to their table which was in the alley next to Queens Farm.
They had sweet kids as volunteers and the woman in charge of the co-op who is on the West Chester Borough Planning Commission was in attendance.
The kids volunteering couldn’t answer my questions (including how they came to be at the market when they were not well, an actual producer) and I was told she was too busy to speak with me. The kids were nervous seemingly to tell me that, so I thanked them ans said another time then.
O.K. so I went about my business but will also note that I brought people with me to the market on Saturday who don’t blog, they don’t know about the co-op and one person said when we were in the car leaving that they wished the food co-op luck because the people at their table were rude to them. These are people that were completely unbiased and open to the concept of a food co-op as they have been exposed to them in other stages of their lives.
The make-believe food co-op was the only negative of this whole event. I remember a food co-op from when I was little. It was a really cool place. I like them, I just don’t get these people and what their eventual end game actually is. And Saturday would have been their ideal and perfect opportunity to change MY mind. They did not achieve that, sadly.
The West Chester Growers Market event was incredibly positive, so back to that. Sorry, I just feel badly that actual producers put their hearts and souls into their products that they bring to market to sell. The space that “co-op” takes up could go to another farm. To me that is depriving the general public and taking money OUT of a farmer’s pocket.
Some of my personal favorites include Yellow Springs Farm, North Star Orchard, Blueberry Hill Farm, Applied Climatology, A Taste of Puebla, Queens Farm, Lizzie’s Kitchen, Fahnstock Fruit Farm, Big Sky Bread, Maiale Deli and Salumeria, Big Hill Ciderworks, Read Earth Farm, Maple Hill Farm, and Chile Spot. I know, I know that is like most of the market. But these people are awesome, and they remember their customers which is something in today’s world I personally love. That added personal touch, remembering what you like.
Take Lizzie the Amish Lady from Lizzie’s Kitchen, who said to me “You are one of those people too?” meaning I was one of the writers/bloggers. I smiled and said yes and then we spoke about what she was preserving and baking. We spoke about Shoo Fly Pie, because hers is one of the only ones I actually like and will buy. My maternal grandmother was Pennsylvania German so I am picky about my Amish/Pennsylvania German Foods. We had a conversation about canning, something I have taken up again on a limited basis (I know my limits!) and the milk delivery service I use (Doorstep Dairy – they are awesome!)
I also hung out with the North Star Orchard folks. Lisa Kerschner and her staff are as nice as they are knowledgeable. Their products are amazing, and on Saturday they had their beets. They grow these multicolored beets which are as spectacularly flavorful as beautiful. These beets are their own home grown/ developed variety. I love when they are in season because I especially love roasting them and serving them in a salad with Chèvre from Yellow Springs Farm.
And yes, one of my next stops was to visit Catherine at The Yellow Springs Farm Booth. Yellow Springs Farm is one of my favorite places on earth, and I also patronize them at the local markets. I have known Farmer Catherine for many years at this point – we knew each other before her farming days began and she is one of my favorite people and her husband is such a lovely man. I not only buy their cheese, but their yogurt, soaps, and many of their native plants grow happily in my garden! (And they let me photograph the mama goats and the new kids in the spring!)
I also have to give a big shout out to Vera Pasta. I make a lot of my own pasta but their artisan pastas are divine! Their ravioli in particular!
And did I mention the most adorable Jack Russel puppy ever? The West Chester Growers Market is pet friendly, so if you are a dog lover, you see some amazing pups.
And now some photos. Enjoy them. And support the West Chester Growers Market. It is an amazing group of people. I look so forward to being a regular customer for decades to come! These are our farmers, and in Chester County we need to support our agricultural heritage. You can’t get fresh produce from a row of plastic McMansions, after all.
The West Chester Growers Market is one of the finest local examples of what the locavore movement is all about. Know your farmers, know your producers. Support them and shop local.
Thanks for stopping by!!
One of the ladies in my cooking group asked for my rainy day chili recipe, so here it is:
Brown 1 lb ground pork and 1 lb ground beef with 6 cloves of garlic diced and 1 sweet onion and 1 red onion chopped. Salt to taste.
To that add 4 grated carrots (medium carrots), and 1 1/2 cups grated raw potatoes (red bliss or Yukon gold).
Add one package frozen corn (no sauce kind – just the corn).
If I have green or red bell pepper I will chop up one of those too.
Add 3 Tablespoons Chili Powder (I use hot), 1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder, 1 teaspoon Smoked Hot Paprika, 1 teaspoon bittersweet paprika. A few dashes of cumin.
Then add ¼ cup chopped fresh Cilantro and 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
Add one 40.5 ounce can of dark red kidney beans (or white cannellini beans which my grocery store has been out of)
Add one 28 ounce can of crush red tomatoes.
Add one 28 ounce can of tomato puree.
Add a few dashes of chipotle Tabasco sauce or a good Mexican hot sauce.
Bring to a slow boil over medium low heat and reduce to low/ simmer and cook the chili for a few hours until cooked down a bit (makes it thicker).
Simmer with a splatter screen on unless you want your kitchen to wear chili.
Adjust for seasoning here and there. Chili cooked a day ahead and reheated is even better because spices have a chance to settle in.
I love rice pudding and that’s what I decided to do today: change it up every so slightly. What I am experimenting with is soaking raisins in a couple tablespoons of orange juice, cinnamon, and approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of whiskey left over from Christmas cakes that didn’t turn out so well.
I didn’t use leftover rice this time I cooked some fresh with cinnamon and cardamom.
Guess what? It’s yummy!
Preheat oven to 350°
scant 1/3 teaspoon of salt for pudding liquid
3 3/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla extract (so much better than the American variety)
2 cups of cook riced (1 cup dry rice cooked with 1 1/4 teaspoons cardamom and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of salt)
1/2 to 3/4 cups white organic or turbinado sugar
1 cup of mixed yellow and black raisins soaked in 3 tablespoons whiskey 2 tablespoons of orange juice and a dash of each cinnamon and nutmeg. (I soaked these about 3 hours before making pudding.)
Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom to taste (pudding liquid)
Lemon or orange zest (optional)
First butter a largish casserole baking dish and place in a Ban Marie (a/k/a large pan filled halfway with hot tap water)
Then beat the eggs in your mixing bowl. Add the vanilla, sugar, salt and mix until frothy. Beat in milk. Add dashes of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg.
Put spice scented rice in bottom of casserole baking dish.
Spoon raisins over rice.
If you want to zest some lemon or orange do so now.
Pour pudding liquid (eggs/milk/sugar) over everything else in casserole baking dish.
Put in oven in Bain Marie for 1 hour and check for doneness – or when the knife comes out clean.
Today my pudding took a total of 90 minutes to cook right.
When doneness is achieved remove from over and Bain Marie and cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature.
I just felt like making a quiche and I had made a ham a few days ago, so I pulled out one of my Smithfield Barn vintage pie plates and away we went. And by the way, spend the money to make your quiche with Swiss and Gruyere cheeses…it makes a world of difference.
Here is what I made (my recipe):
Quiche with Ham and Portobello Mushrooms
6 large eggs
¾ cup evaporated milk
1 large shallot
1 small onion
1 8 oz package of baby Portobello or crimini mushrooms sliced thin
2 tablespoons butter
1 deep dish pie plate and one pie crust (I make my own crust or buy refrigerated pie dough in a pinch – don’t like frozen pie crusts)
2 ½ cups shredded cheese – half Swiss and half Gruyere
About 2 cups of minced up ham
When toothpick or knife comes out of quiche clean, it’s done. Allow to cool at least 25 minutes before serving.