Ma Belle? No that’s not it…it’s Mae Belle. That’s it.
Ok come on, line up now and get it out of your system. I am terribly horrible for writing about this, but it’s out there and fascinating. Nothing privileged. Above is the former site of Farmer Jawn Greenery in Mt. Airy on 6730 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia PA 19119 which is now CLOSED and for rent. Only they say she opened something else next door as in immediate right of where she was? ( I found a website too.)
Even Google marks it closed:
So….the Farmer in the Westtown Dell gave an interview to The Daily Local Last week. I grabbed it off cache so here, read without the paywall:
Now this was a rather interesting article because it’s obvious the subject, Farmer Jawn herself was dancing, not substantively answering some questions. Like…where the article says:
The farm store is up and running, with more than a 100 different items to choose from. Farmer Jawn said everything offered is local and comes from no farther than 2 hours away.
Ok translation please? I think the reporter asked where the food is coming from because obviously she isn’t growing it, but if she still has the Elkins Park location for real, why not? Other markets, and not just the way Pete’s was, will tell the customer WHERE THE FOOD CAME FROM. This is a sketch at best answer IMHO
For more information, go to farmerjawnphilly.com
Another dodge ball response, the website says essentially NOTHING or regurgitates what is past, past, past. Or has broken links.
Every backyard gardener is familiar with weeds….Barfield said farmers don’t have to look at weeds as the enemy. She noted that weeds retain water in the soil, can provide shade, keep plants cool in summer and deter deer from eating the crops.
Ummm. Yeah. Fairly accomplished gardener here. Weeds take up what viable crops and garden plants need for survival…which is why personally I pull them. Except for poison ivy/oak/sumac as I have that removed chemical free. And weeds deter deer? Good lord city girl, have you met the deer in Chester County yet? (This was a very tooth fairy response I think.)
Next growing season, rye, barley, and buckwheat will grow on 20 acres for a local malt house. Barfield said that all ingredients in the beer from beginning to end will be created by Blacks.
So will madam actually be growing her own honey as well? Wasn’t sure where last honey originated from and was not a fan and yes I tried and tossed a jar of it out. It was in a basket I won as a silent auction item for a non-profit fundraiser.
And can we talk about the whole recurring message elephant in the room and on the fields of the farms which is to be other than a black farmer is a bad farmer? Sorry not sorry, that bothers me. And because I am white, I am not supposed to ask that and will I be once again called a racist for asking why only one type of farmer is a good farmer? Why if I personally don’t take others to task over the color of their skin or nationality or religion and more am I supposed to apologize or feel bad because all of my ancestors are Caucasian?
Comments from last week/weekend:
So as a related aside how does Farmer Jawn like living in West Chester Borough since that is where she is living supposedly? It’s a cute town, I hope she and her family are enjoying it and I say that honestly, without edge.
And I will state (again) for the record that I have zero issue with her stated mission. It just seems like for someone who so lived their life out loud and has done, that we have so many questions about the business of her business.
Let’s chat this other new Mae Bell biz and how will that work with what? Two farms? One in Westtown and one in Elkins Park at 1760 Ashbourne Road or wherever? That’s a lot on one plate, isn’t it? And what about the non profit?
So, she’s part of our community and still in Philadelphia? Sign me still waiting to see how this all works out. And what is the address of her charity etc. now that she is no longer actually at her old location given the empty and forlorn look and for rent sign?
It’s a rainy day. It has been damp and rainy and then gray and damp and now it’s raining again. It is the first day of fall, and a perfect day to make soup.
Potato leek soup came to mind. I had all of the ingredients!
When I heard it was going to be a rainy weekend, I went to the freezer to retrieve the end bits of whole chickens that I save along with gizzards and necks from whole chickens that I had roasted. I save all this to make bone broth with.
So this morning instead of getting out the Instant Pot, I did bone broth the old school way, in a big soup pot on the stove.
I took the gizzards, and necks, and two 1 quart containers of roasting pan juices and chicken carcasses and tossed it into my big Great Jones soup pot.
I mention the brand because I love Great Jones cookware. I discovered them a few years ago on the Today Show when they were just starting out, and I had some pots that I wanted to replace, so I tried a couple. Now, a few years have gone by and the majority of my cookware for every day stuff is from them. I will never, however, give up my love for vintage Dansk Kobenstyle Dutch ovens.
In the soup pot, along with the chicken carcasses and necks and gizzards, I added a few things. Salt, 2 cups of rosé wine, because that was what was open, a half dozen carrots, one onion, two bay leaves, and spices. I chose Shwarma seasoning and Za’atar. Don’t ask me how much I just threw a couple of dashes in. Then I added some more water so that the soup pot was about 2/3 full. The pot called “Big Deal” is 8 quarts.
I cooked everything together I guess about three hours. Then I allowed the broth to cool slightly, and I removed the carrots to their own bowl to be used in the next stage of the soup. I removed all of the bones and gizzards, leaving just the broth. I then skimmed the fat off of the top of the broth.
Then I rough chopped two red onions and tossed them in the pot with the skimmed broth. I had already sliced a bunch of fresh leeks and had them soaking in ice water to make sure all the sandy soil had lifted away. I drained the leeks and tossed them into the pot.
Next I took dozen small potatoes that I had harvested from my own garden a week ago, and quartered them. The potatoes went into the pot as well. I also have the carrots I had made the bone broth with. They were sliced smaller and added back.
The last step before the next cooking stage, was to add thyme and tarragon, which I have fresh and growing in my garden.
Everything cooked together another two hours.
I then got out my little Cuisinart immersion blender and emulsified everything in the pot as it was cooking. I kept the soup on low, stirring often, and let it cook down another hour.
It was now cooked down enough that I tasted it and I adjusted the salt and pepper and added a little more seasoning. I even added a very small cheese rind. Just to add another layer of flavor.
The soup tastes very good and this is my spin on potato leek soup. I have not added any cream. A lot of the recipes I consulted before creating my own don’t call for cream.
The soup will now cool and then it’ll be put away and after the flavors meld for a day or so, I will serve it for dinner.
This. No identity even on “grand opening weekend”. Still known as “Pete’s”. Other people promote the business, and the Farmer in The Dell seems to just promote herself?
Sorry not sorry. The Farmer in The Dell at Westtown has her socials profiles, but this big hunking 120+ acre piece of land she’s renting doesn’t really have it’s own socials. No Farmer Jawn at Westtown, etc. Does that make sense to you? She seems to have all of the identity, not her actual work so what’s up with that?
Organic certification as a process begins after land has sat for three years. Soooo how do we support ourselves on 123 prime acres until then? Is the store in Germantown or Mount Airy or wherever still open? (See photo at bottom of post taken today) Are tea sales brisk? Where are the ingredients to make said tea and honey actually coming from? What local apiary specifically? There are a lot of beekeepers so is it locally sourced honey because when you are talking allergies, etc., ask any beekeeper and they will tell you local honey is best. And if it’s not their own honey, do they say where honey comes from? Where does anything come from if there isn’t a vendor there to say “hey this is mine”?
Someone tell me why we are supposed to support this farmer and where is an itemized account of where the money is going, especially but not limited to donations? Are there grants as well?
And there seem to be lots of business and other names and who’s on first? Farmer Jawn. FarmerJawn Greenery. Life Leaf Organic Farms. Viva Leaf Tea. Grow Sip Repeat. Farmer Jawn Agriculture. FarmerJawn & Friends Foundation Fund. Is there a form 990 by now? Why is the state charity entry incomplete on the state website? Is the state just behind?
I have never had a problem with the stated mission of this woman. I have read all the articles, like these:
But it’s like she skips around? That’s expensive, right?
Ironically next to her Mt. Airy store, Tired Hands (yes the brewery folk out of Ardmore) have a biergarten at 6730 Germantown Pike, Philadelphia. At first it was the Farmer Jawn Biergarten but now it’s Mt. Airy Biergarten? So the Greenery place there is not officially closed, but is it actually ever open?
Maybe sometimes things that seem too good to be true are true, but will this be the case in Westtown? And they say the farmer moved to the Borough of West Chester? If so, that’s a great idea especially if she is going to be tilling fields in Westtown, right? The commute from Philadelphia certainly wouldn’t be an easy one or practical right? Northwest Philadelphia to Chester County would be a not so great commute, yes?
And hey remember Greener Partners? They have a similar mission…
So 6730 Germantown Avenue in Mount Airy? This is a business location that is more closed than open and supposedly has no staff left and is the address listed for the non-profit, etc.? And then there is the farm or whatever in Elkins Park? Described as “furloughed”? And The greenhouses went bye bye before all this so what is up? Is this just real estate hopscotch? Bad luck? Coincidence?
These questions have nothing to do with the color of anyone’s skin, and they are questions that should be asked. We are asking to support this, and in THEORY, it’s a GREAT idea. (The regenerative agriculture movement is real and kind of cool.) But the reality of the Jawn of it all? Doesn’t pass the sniff test if we are honest, does it? But why are people afraid to say so out loud?
But hey what do I know anyway? I am just the villain in this play for asking questions.
But truthfully? Here’s hoping Farmer Jawn is a success in Westtown…but I do not see it happening. This photo below is why. And it begs one final question: is the new Farmer in The Dell in Westtown actually leaving the community that first embraced her for greener pastures? People move on all of the time, it’s called life. Perhaps just own it?
And Westtown School? What say you in all of this besides crickets?
Gosh, apparently I am a racist for questioning anything about the new Farmer in The Dell for Westtown?
Guess what? I am not a racist. I reject that as a label.
Everything doesn’t add up and water always seeks it’s own level.
This chick above wants to say that if you have questions you are tearing down a black owned business. I find that assertion on her part absolutely disgusting. And deliberately incendiary and divisive.
I have been tracking the comments. I watched on Instagram where they eviscerated a woman who not only lives in Chester County but lived a farming life for several years. She was not racist or anything remotely close, but Farmer in The Dell For Westtown allowed the people commenting to tear her apart and call her a racist .
I could post loads and loads of comments. Some good, some bad, some horrible. And there is a disturbing common theme with some comments: race baiting.
That’s wrong. I don’t care what your race, creed, or color is, it is wrong. And thanks but no, I don’t suffer from white fragility or white privilege. I can’t help the color of my skin, and that doesn’t make me bad or a racist. But it’s a great deflection tool in this scenario, isn’t it?
The message is clear even if that is not actually the intent: if you aren’t with Westtown’s New Farmer in the Dell, you’re against her. So is it you can only worship, you CANNOT raise or voice concerns about how things look (you know like the mowing issues), and you can’t say anything else? If you do, is there a shade of shade of inference none too subtly that anyone who has anything other than glowing praise and accolades is a racist? Come on, really?
And you wonder why I have zero desire to check out Farmer Jawn in Westtown and give them business at this point? I am not on the immediate bandwagon, therefore I am bad. And note, I am not saying racism doesn’t exist, it does. But I am not a practitioner.
I don’t see what this woman is actually bringing to Chester County that is positive in this moment. Hopefully it changes, and if it does that would actually and truthfully be pretty cool. The irony in ALL of this is I actually believe in her mission if it is indeed her mission. Food insecurity is a real is a real live issue, just ask Chester County Food Bank or People’s Pantry, or down on the Main Line, Narberth Community Food Bank and Ardmore Food Pantry just to name a handful of organizations who care and help.
And I actually support farmers in Chester County. But they are hard working men and women, and they spend a lot less time on Instagram telling everyone how fabulous they are. (Too much? ) And urban agriculture? It’s a good thing, just like regular gardening. But she’s in Chester County now, yes? Maybe as she asks we accept her, maybe she needs to work on some acceptance herself?
So screenshot chick and others, hope you didn’t turn blue on my account. That would be distressing. I also hope that your hate doesn’t eat you up inside. I can’t control how you feel, even if I feel it’s wrong, but you don’t have the right at attempting canceling other human beings because their opinions and questions don’t match yours, or perhaps neither their race, creed, and color.
And Grace? It’s earned. right now all y’all have earned is my disdain.
I will freely admit I am a bit salty about Farmer in the Westtown Dell’s latest post. The message is clear even if that is not actually her intent: if you aren’t with her, you’re against her. So is it you can only worship, you CANNOT raise or voice concerns about how things look (you know like the mowing issues), and you can’t say anything else? If you do, is there a shade of shade of inference none too subtly that anyone who has anything other than glowing praise and accolades is a racist?
Come on, really?
See this Instagram post from 2 days ago:
So yes I wrote a post about the way the place formerly known as Pete’s Produce looked. And this was after an email blast to her followers came out. And by her I am referring to Westtown’s New Farmer in the Dell, Ms. Barfield.
That email hit a bad chord in me. I felt as if those of us expressing concern were being chided for expressing valid concerns about how everything looked. Lady, it’s called communication and that is not necessarily one and the same as an Instagram post is it?
So I wrote about it and how I felt. It’s my right is it not? I was not being racist. But I had people saying I was and messages that were vile.
So let’s back up (again.) When they first announced Ms. Barfield was the new farmer, I was welcoming with a couple of basic questions – essentially concerning the Pete’s workers who had worked that farm for in some cases, years, and would she be hiring any of them. Here verbatim is what I said at the time (December 9, 2022) :
I welcome a new farmer to continue the tradition of Pete on this land. BUT with Pete, retiring, a lot of his workers are now unemployed, so I hope since so many of them worked so hard for him for so many years that this new farmer will adopt some of his workers as hers. What I am hearing Westtown School is that might not be so?
Truthfully, I thought it was kind of cool initially when she was chosen because she was a female farmer. I did not object to the switch to organic farming, but I will still repeat what I initially said because I know organic farmers: it is a BIG process. Going organic and getting organic certification is a lot of hoops, and expensive. I also noted it doesn’t happen overnight.
These are a sampling of the 250 comments on the Instagram post that I found distasteful:
BUT I have a huge problem with the way I feel those of us out here who are essentially being told we are racists because we asked what was going on over there and can anyone understand this? That is wrong. I am not a racist and I have read through all of the 277 comments (or that was how many at last count.) Just because someone is not your race and says “hey I don’t like something happening” that is not racist. People aren’t saying because she is a black farmer or even a female farmer that she is bad or can’t do the job. They are also NOT saying she shouldn’t own farm land. Out here specifically people were referring to how run down parts of the property looked because the freaking weeds weren’t cut along the sides of the road leading into the market area. Sometimes things are just about what people say. Sometime it’s not more or bad or wrong.
People did try to have a conversation about this on this Instagram post. Like one lady said and I quote:
I find what bothers me the most is that conventional farmers such as Pete and others are made to sound as if they are horrible stewards of the earth. I wish you the best but please respect all farming practices. There’s nothing unhealthy about the soil on that farm.
One of the replies this person received was horrible. She was told she had white logic essentially and what the offensive same hell does she mean? Just like the subsequent comment to someone else asking about “your species”? I am sorry was this person an alien?
And then there are the locals who feel they have to literally suck up and say that they are so sorry everyone is so negative and change doesn’t come easily and please forgive everyone for the negativity. The negativity is primarily coming from the supporters of Farmer Jawn. And yes, I agree change doesn’t come easily. But it’s all about how the change is presented.
Let’s review: when Westtown first announced the new farmer of that land people were excited. The land would stay farmed and not become a crop of cheap plastic mushroom houses. Then it was nothing really, including the weeds which didn’t get cut for months. That made people wonder and worry, myself included. I was not racist on my comments and am not a racist but yeah I am damn straight going to react to words like raggedy. And when I have never made the race or sex of this farmer (or any other farmer) an issue, why is she saying that is why people are asking questions?
Newsflash, Ms. Barfield, people asked questions and had understandable concerns considering how well tended the land had been by the last steward of the land even if he wasn’t organic. I will note he wasn’t exactly a straight Round Up farmer, either. He was just a conventional farmer, not organic. But for what it is worth conventional farmers I know do employ a lot of organic practices even if they do not have the organic official status because of the expense of becoming certified organic. This farmer could have played this straight and allayed fears people had. But she really has not in my opinion. And that is why I am finding this Instagram you did offensive to those of us who live here.
And that is the thing of it: you are the new steward of the land but you are unknown except for your social media out here in the community you are entering into. And you have kind of been putting this combative vibe out there. It’s not warranted. Life is difficult enough at times without that. Just because I am white doesn’t make me a bad person does it? So why would you assume I judged you by the color of your skin? I didn’t. And I won’t.
Ms. Barfield. I do not have a problem with either your mission or your vision. I do still wonder if the Westtown land will be too much and too expensive for you long term, but that isn’t wishing you ill or implying you can’t do it. I am not slamming you as a female farmer of any creed or color. What I have a problem with is anyone implying folks have a racial angle if they ask questions about your Westtown farming. That will not engender good will in the community you wish to be a part of.
Farming like gardening is kind of like life, especially when you are cultivating. Because lady, people require cultivation too. I was planning to show up and support you when you announced your August 18th opening. I was happy to hear this. But then came your Raggedyness post on Instagram and those comments. Now, I will get there when I get there.
My business in particular doesn’t matter a hill of beans, and I know that, but what I am saying that may resonate, is that if we had questions or reservations at all, are we really actually welcome as potential customers?
A customer wants to feel welcomed. That’s a pretty simple tenet of customer service.
Ms. Barfield, FarmerJawn, I wish you the best, but I am never one who will mince words when something strikes me as wrong or unfair.
So the email came out today from Farmer Jawn about all those acres she’s renting where Chester County’s beloved now retired Farmer Pete and Pete’s Produce used to be. I will allow the new farmer her words (this email came out today):
A Heartfelt Update from our CEO, Christa Barfield
I am thrilled to share some wonderful news with you. FarmerJawn is ecstatic to announce the grand opening of the FarmerJawn Produce Market on Friday, August 18th, running through the Thanksgiving season. Get ready for a bounty of fresh, locally-grown tomatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, an array of greens, local products, and so much more.
I understand that some of you may have wondered why it took a little longer for us to open our doors. Allow me to shed some light on the process: It was essential for me to honor this Lenape land and prioritize the health of people and the planet. To achieve this, I made the conscious decision to let the foliage on our farm go through their natural life cycle, enriching the soil in the process.
Now that we have mowed it down, we are well on our way to converting our farm operation from conventional to fully organic, just as I promised.
The journey hasn’t been without its challenges. We’ve bobbed and weaved through irrigation woes, faced oppressive commentary, endured unkind visits, braved torrential downpours, and even navigated through the haze of Canadian wildfire smoke. Despite it all, I am immensely proud of what my team and our volunteer community have accomplished, and I stand firmly by my decisions thus far. I am filled with gratitude for all the farmers and environmentalists who understand the mission at hand and have stood by me as we see it through.
For those who don’t know me, I started my professional career as a healthcare professional before transitioning into farming. My dedication to “Food is Medicine” is rooted in my commitment to the wellness of our community, the Philadelphia metro area, extending to the great state of Pennsylvania and the surrounding states, but my impact is most certainly felt internationally.
I cannot express how excited I am to welcome each and every one of you to FarmerJawn at Westtown School. I named my organization FarmerJawn as a love note to my city, which also symbolizes that we all should know where our food comes from. It is truly an honor for me, my team, and our farm & food artisan partners to nourish you now and through to the 2023 holiday season and beyond. We are eager to serve you with the freshest and healthiest produce, grown with love and care.
In the coming weeks, we will continue regular communication and provide more details about our market’s hours of operation, our style of farming as it is clearly different and not understood and a warm introduction to our dedicated team members. We are committed to creating a welcoming environment, where you will find not just prized produce, but also a sense of community.
Additionally, if you happen to know anyone interested in part-time cashier/stock employment, we have openings available. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you all for your continued support and patience. Your belief in our mission is what drives us to do better and be better every day. We can’t wait to see you at the FarmerJawn Produce Market in the coming weeks, where health, sustainability, and community come together. Westtown is one location within the FarmerJawn ecosystem and we are driving systemic change for our region that will be felt nationwide.
With heartfelt gratitude, Christa Barfield aka FarmerJawn
P.S. For those of you, who know and love the Westtown farm and patronized the market over the previous years, please take into account that it began as a small farm stand and developed and experienced growth over two decades. Also understand that Less than 2% of U.S. farmland is stewarded by Black people and just over 0% is stewarded by a Black woman and the ‘why’ is rooted in the colonization of opportunity. Please think about all these facts as you form opinions about who FarmerJawn is…FarmerJawn is a Movement!
Ok. Deep breath. As a former customer of Pete’s Produce and a resident of Chester County who used to drive to Westtown to go to Pete’s BEFORE I lived in Chester County, I am actually trying to NOT be offended by this woman’s message.
For starters does she think none of us have seen farm fields go fallow to rest the land and rejuvenate? I certainly have and I know (for example) that Pete did not abuse the land and milk it without nourishment like the now former farmer at Immaculata did. When Immaculata switched tenant farmers, those farm fields literally breathed a sigh of relief. The new farmer tilled and added bone meal and manure and more. No more Round Up and his first season he planted a cover crop of soy that he just let grow to enrich the soil. I watched that guy care for the fields. And not one field was left to look like a hot weed filled mess. He respected the land and the neighbors and the school he is leasing the fields from. And today the fields have never looked better.
I also have known and do know other farmers who also will rotate their fields so sometimes some fields sit. When a field lies fallow, it doesn’t look like much is happening. But it is. It is resting and the land is rejuvenating. But when fields are laying fallow, other parts of a property can actually be maintained a bit. You know like the entrance to the old market etc.? Pete didn’t plant crops to the edge of the road.
And yes, I do know it takes a couple of years to be able to get land being farmed back to straight organic. And the process to get an organic certification is detailed and somewhat arduous to get established.
However, right or wrong, I feel like you are either WITH this farmer or AGAINST this farmer, and up until this point I was NEITHER, but like many many many other people I was wondering what the hell was going on.
Why? Simple, when I drove by July 17th and this was the view:
Sorry not sorry, it looked like shit. That was a beautiful property and when it wasn’t in season, umm the basics were done….like the mowing.
When I posted about this on my blog’s Facebook page oh the oh so uglies came out to the point that I had to remove most comments because people were not being civil to each other or to me for expressing MY opinion that the property looks like crap.
I said after I was forced to remove comments:
Please note that I have removed the majority of the comments. Not because all of them were objectionable or because I didn’t agree but because I’m sick and tired.
I am sick and tired of being judged because I expressed my opinion.
I’m sick and tired of people saying it entirely stupid things like, why don’t I personally ask the farmer what’s going on or why don’t I show the farmer some grace.And then there were the dancing thinly veiled comments that I found utterly reprehensible that basically to say what once was beautiful land looks like crap right now is borderline racist. That is not what I’m saying at all that is not what anyone else is saying AT ALL.
And I’m also sick and tired of people, saying I am raising hysteria by what I wrote. What I said is the property looks sad. What I said is it looks really sad to drive by and not even see a farm stand. I went on further to say that I think the property kind of looks like crap because they’re not even cutting the weeds.
I am fully cognizant of how hard farming is, and I also know how hard organic farming is, but I am wondering, as are many other people if the new farmer has bitten off more than she can chew. And I don’t wish that on her because it would be great if she could succeed, but while she is hyper focused on her other properties in her other areas, she seems less concerned about all of us out here and she’s our new neighbor. Maybe smart marketing should include putting the minds of the new community she is joining at ease?
That is not a hysterical opinion or bad.
Some of you need to get over yourselves.
Above you see a photo I took I think sometime in October of 2017. It shows the beauty of this place. Even when not organically farmed. It was beautiful because Pete took care of the land and so did his crews. He loved it, you could feel that. When you reward the land it rewards you back.
So this email sent to people today. Personally I felt alienated, like it was an email shaming for those of us who expressed concern as to the tumble down state of the place. And the paragraph with too much usage of the word professional in the same paragraph was just annoying. She isn’t the only professional woman on the planet, is she?
Someone said to me recently:
I think Farmer Jawn is a great content creator and branding extraordinaire but a terrible farmer. Because it’s a lot of work. 100% organically dope is her tagline…which really means 100% not profitable. There is a reason the average age of US farmers is almost 60 years old….
I agree with that sentiment sadly. Her not really taking the time out here until a random act of email now and some long overdue mowing leaves a bad taste. Whose community is she referring to in her email? All of us equally? I hope so.
I will also point out that we had a sense of community until Westtown School decided to go a different direction. We all knew Pete was approaching retirement age but people still wonder what role Westtown School had to play in last year being his last season don’t they? Pete also employed a steady roster of dedicated employees and farm workers I was told, so when he retired and Farmer Jawn came on the scene, they were part of out with the old, weren’t they? Farmer Jawn is looking for workers, did she reach out to any of Pete’s former employees, I wonder? Or will she?
So Farmer Jawn has a national mission? Will she actually have time for us little folk in Chester County? That remains to be seen. I mean she already in her own email thinks us rubes who can’t possibly grasp the concept of organic farmer or other styles of farming. Lady, I know other organic farmers and with respect kindly don’t patronize the people you need to cultivate.
That email was patronizing. We all know that Pete’s started small. I also am going to say personally, that I respect farmers in general. They race, nationality, gender, etc. does not make me respect any farmer any less. Although I do have a soft spot for female run farms. Which is why initially I was excited a female farmer was coming to Westtown. For me it’s pretty simple: it’s not the hype of social media marketing, it’s what they actually do with the land.
I am going to point out some Chester County history now. Brackbill Farm Markets. Started by an East Whiteland farmer once upon a time in a land far, far away. Mr. Leasa as far as I can see is the reason there ended up being what evolved into what we know today as the Ardmore Farmers Market.
So truly, I do not intend to be unkind here. But I will reserve further judgement until I see an actual anything happening off of social media. I don’t disagree with what she is trying to do at all. So I hope people have the comprehension abilities to understand that. But this is our part of the world and every day we see farms disappear. We don’t want this farmland to disappear. Honestly, the other issue is I am not trusting of Westtown School so that is part of my overall reservations. I know people who live around the school who have been fighting turf fields and nasty lights, which in order to be paid for are always constantly rented out. They also aren’t exactly organic.
Westtown is a lovely school, I had many friends who went there and then sent kids there, but do they really want this new farmer to succeed? Or do they ultimately want the land for something else or to sell it off some day? THAT is what people WORRY about. They want a successful farming operation and farming to stay.
Yes this new farmer has taken to social media and podcasts and what not, but seriously? She needs to make some time for the people out here she wants to support her and whom she needs to support her.
I understand Rome wasn’t built in a day and no farm was ever built in a day, but please be real with us, right? And I miss sunflowers in the farmhouse front field.
For us to support her movement, we might actually need to see some movement, eh? That means, not left feeling chided and talked down to or patronized in an email sent out to an email list. I am not a social media influencer, don’t have any desire to be, just want to know when the farm is going to stop looking haunted and start looking like a farm where I can patronize a local business and buy my produce etc. once again.
I don’t need partnerships with wineries and cider makers and posts from State Rep. Madeleine Dean, who is probably gearing up for her next re-election campaign or something.
I don’t need chef collaborations, I am a rather good cook on my own. I want to see life again in this part of Westtown. I want to feel as a potential customer that I will be welcomed. Will we all be welcomed equally? I hope so because I honestly want to support this business because I like it and I want to.
I am sure there will be many who think I have some nerve stating my opinion. Take a ticket and stand in line, that’s like every day with whatever I write. This is how I feel about all of this and I look forward to hopefully all of my doubts and questions being put to rest.
I will close with my post saying good bye to Pete’s last fall:
“I have been coming here for 30 years” said the nice man yesterday who was taking photos of the farmhouse and remaining sunflowers like me. I think Pete Flynn AKA the Pete of Pete’s has been doing his thing for about 35 years. People tell me before he was a farmer with his namesake store, he was a truck farmer.
Yup. We all have been. Now granted for me, when I first discovered Pete’s I was a Main Liner, so I didn’t get out there often, but when I did, it was magical.
Going to Pete’s has always been magical. Decent prices, friendly people, plants, tradition….community.
But the magic is ending, and the auction signs have gone up and I am just sad.
Pete Flynn has been a beacon of hope in an area being swallowed up by development and pipelines. He deserves to retire, he has worked hard. What is sad is there is no one to take up the mantle after him. Now there will be no farm attached to Westtown School, just like there is no farm attached to Church Farm School. I hope the land is not eventually developed, but I don’t hold out much hope. No one wants to farm much any longer, and those who do have had land prices and taxes driven up by wanton development. That and government doesn’t adequately support farmers on any level.
I do not know how long his website will remain, so I am sharing it now. I hope he keeps it up. I really wish this wonderful place wasn’t leaving us. Farms and farmers deserve a better deal.
Thanks for the memories and great produce, Pete. Thanks for doing something that matters.
Soup. It’s just one of those things that once in a while you just want. There’s no rhyme or reason. Today was one of those days. This is a soup tale, not necessarily a traditional soup recipe, because I just made it up and you’ll have to follow along.
I save leftover chicken and actually bones and carcasses from roast chickens and freeze them to make bone broth . I also freeze necks and giblet that come inside a roast chicken when you purchase it from the store.
Today I also had acorn squash left over from a farm box, some fresh onions, garlic, a couple of hot peppers from my garden, and a big container of beautiful local mushrooms. So to me it said “don’t let anything go bad, make soup.”
First I got out my small instant pot and I added all my chicken bits. Then I added a sprinkle or two of kosher salt, fresh sage rosemary and thyme, a healthy dose of Lebanese Za’atar spice blend, Shawarma spice blend, and Persian Advieh.
I know, I know I have a weakness for exotic spice blends and different kinds of paprika. Paprika however was not in this recipe.
So I hit the broth setting on my instant pot after covering up my chicken parts and spices with water, leaving a gap of about an inch to an inch and a half at the top inside. After I cooked it all on the broth setting which is about 40 minutes, I added an extra five.
Meanwhile, I took out a cookie sheet pan and made a large tinfoil pouch and put inside of the pouch the acorn squash quartered, four medium to small size carrots cut into little circles, one large fresh onion chunked, and finally I added a small head of garlic, cloves peeled. I drizzled olive oil on top, tossed in a little bit of salt, folded everything up into a package and put it into a 400° oven for about 40 minutes. When the vegetables were done I turned off the oven and set it on the stove top as I waited for the broth to cool down.
When the vegetables were cool enough to handle, I scooped the squash from its skin and put it and the other roasted vegetables into a soup pot with fresh sage, thyme, rosemary. Not a lot just a little bit more, and a couple of dashes of Sherry vinegar.
After the broth had cooled down enough, I drained the broth through a strainer into my soup pot. I put the chicken parts and bits that I had used to create the broth in a metal mixing bowl to cool further. I used a hand blender and emulsified everything, adding to that believe it or not, 2/3 of a cup of creamy peanut butter.
I know peanut butter sounds odd, but when I was a kid and we first went to Historic Williamsburg one of the historic taverns in Williamsburg served a peanut soup, and it was a chicken stock base with peanut butter and it was amazing. It’s a flavor profile that I like. It doesn’t taste like a Reesie’s cup or anything like that but you do have that undertone of peanut butter flavor. Of course, if you’re allergic to nuts you can’t do this.
So what was my next step? I turned the stove on low underneath the soup. I added back the chicken I picked off the bones of the chicken I used to make the broth with. Then I sliced up all the beautiful mushrooms (baby Bella) I had, and tossed them into the soup pot, followed by two additional carrots and one apple grated. Finally, I had about a half a cup of Minnesota wild rice left over from last year, and since it only has a shelf life of so long, into the pot it went!
I have pretty much pre-cooked the soup and I will turn it off and just let it cook away in the pot with the lid on. I will let it come to room temperature and by that time it will be close to dinner, and I can then heat it up. And allowing this soup to sit hot like this will also help the wild rice cook because if you’ve ever cooked with wild rice you know it takes literally twice as long as any other kind of rice. I prefer wild rice in soup because it holds up very well.
For a made up soup of leftovers essentially, it is not bad. Sometimes I am like the kitchen sink cook, and it’s whatever is around goes in something. In this case it has worked out really well and I have to tell you the flavor profile of the soup is wonderful and emulsifying the vegetables and the broth with the peanut butter gives it a creamy texture without adding any dairy products.
Given inflation, food prices, and the economy, perhaps being a kitchen sink home cook is not so bad? I literally bought nothing special for this recipe I used everything I had around the house or in the garden.
The kitchen smells really good right now. Thanks for stopping by.
There are a lot of things I just make. There is no recipe, there’s nothing I look to, it’s just in my head. But today friends asked me to write down how I make my roasted squash soup.
So how did squash soup happen? Two weeks in a row I have gotten squash in my vegetable box. So squash soup popped into my head since it was a comparatively cool day (finally) to be in the kitchen. I decided small fresh sweet potatoes would be added to thicken it up and bone broth made in the InstantPot. Lots of fresh herbs from garden for the broth. When broth is ready and vegetables are cooled from roasting, into another pot it all goes to cook and purée with hand (immersion) blender.
So basically I lined a half sheet pan (18” x 13”) with foil, cut up all my hard sided squashes, baby sweet potatoes, and a couple of chili peppers from the garden, and sprinkled a little olive oil , some tikka masala powder, hawayij spice blend, and salt. I roast everything in a 425° oven for about 40 minutes. Then I turned the oven off and just left the vegetables in there with the door closed until everything cooled down.
Now for the broth part. I keep a Ziploc bag in my freezer where I put the gizzards and necks from whole chickens I buy to roast. I keep those in a bag in the freezer when I want to make broth. Sometimes I even save a chicken carcass after cooking (and freeze it) but that’s not what I used this time. This time I had a bag full of liver, gizzards and chicken necks. Literally like six sets. I used my small InstantPot which makes 3 quarts of broth.
How do I make the broth besides the chicken parts? One onion cut in 4, a couple of carrots cleaned and chunked, salt, rosemary/thyme/sage from the garden. I add water, leaving approximately 2 inches clearance from the top of the InstantPot liner pot. I hit the broth button and let it cook.
After both the vegetables are roasted and the broth is cooked I let everything cool down so I can proceed to the next step. The next step is easy: I take all the squash and scoop out everything from the skin of each piece and put it into a soup pot with the roasted baby sweet potatoes, the carrots used to make the broth, and 6 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter. I give everything a mash with a hand potato masher, and add the strained broth and cook on low for a couple of hours. Then I use the immersion blender and purée everything together. At that point I put it on simmer and let it cook down a little more.
Oh and this soup does not require a dairy component. It’s good just the way it is!
These are among the things that I missed during COVID19 and I was so happy to be there on such a pretty day! We had company in from out of town and we wanted to show her the market.
The West Chester Growers Market is the original producer only market in Chester County. Outside Saturdays 9AM – 1PM . May through December with some other limited hours in the off season. Always on the corner of North Church and West Chestnut Streets in downtown West Chester, PA.