Catherine Renzi from Yellow Springs Farm came over last week to drop off plants. My current garden is one of many over the course of 20 years that I have incorporated plants from Yellow Springs Farm into.
During this visit, Catherine entrusted me with the news she and her husband Al are now allowing me to tell all of you: Yellow Springs Farm is for sale. And before we go any further, know one thing: this is a conserved farm. This land will remain protected in perpetuity from subdivision or development because Catherine and Al Renzi donated a conservation easement in 2001.
While many land parcels in Chester County are NOT safe from wanton development, Yellow Springs Farm is.
I have know Catherine for many, many years. Before there was Yellow Springs Farm, she was a well respected financial advisor and for a few years I was a sales assistant in her office. As a matter of fact, I remember when she said she was taking her life in another direction and she and Al were buying a farm. To many of the stock jockeys, that sounded crazy. To me, it sounded wonderful.
Although Catherine started out essentially a boss, she has become my friend over the course of many, many years we have known each other. I have been buying goods from her farm as long as they have been selling them.
Yellow Springs Farm is a magical place and so beautiful. It has been a happy place for me in Chester County over the years. I always knew spring was truly here when there was an open farm day, and I could see the new kids. Kids, aka baby goats, are among the most joyful animals to be around. Goats can be a little stinky, but they are funny creatures guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The Yellow Springs goats are now gone from the farm. They went to live at another dairy.
Change can be hard, and Catherine and Al didn’t make this decision lightly. BUT people are entitled to new and different chapters, and if I am honest, when I saw Catherine had picked up her paint brushes again and started creating beautiful paintings, I knew change was coming.
Now while their location might be changing, Catherine will still be offering landscape design and consulting services (and hopefully plants!) from a new, TBD location.
With Catherine and Al’s permission, I am sharing their note to their Cheese CSA members:
📌📝Yellow Springs Farm Native Plants Nursery and Artisanal Goat Dairy will close this Fall. After 20 years of goats, gardens and countless community connections, Al and Catherine Renzi are ready to begin a new life chapter.
We are extremely grateful for the knowledge, friendships and warm memories you, our valued CSA members, have shared over the years. We could not have pursued our mission of connecting sustainable landscapes with local foodscapes without our customers, colleagues, chefs and so many Farm supporters, near and far.
The Farm real estate is for sale, but it remains protected in perpetuity from subdivision or development because of the conservation easement we donated in 2001. We imagine new owners will live their dreams here, and continue to care for this beautiful place. The goats were the soul of the Farm. They are safe, and have moved to another dairy. We receive their milk to continue making cheese until later this Fall– likely November. The dairy and cheesemaking equipment is available for purchase. Nursery plants not sold this season will come with us to our new location TBD. Change is hard to process, but we are focused on being glad that YSF happened (2001-2021), not sad that it is coming to an end. When we started this adventure in 2001, and now again in 2021, we made choices to take chances, and look forward to change ahead with refreshed aspirations. Every ending is a new beginning
We will connect with community venues and other means to pursue our interests in nature, conservation, and local food. Catherine’s creative muse, and Al’s analytical penchant for science are alive and well. We will share specifics as we know more details in coming weeks and months.
Thank you for sharing this fulfilling, challenging life chapter with us. Your support and enthusiasm for our Farm has been priceless. A piece of this place lives forever in our hearts, and we hope you too have fond memories of Yellow Springs Farm.
With warm regards and heartfelt thanks,
Al and Catherine Renzi📌📝
So there is the news. If you are a realtor or a potential owner who is a farm lover with a conservation soul, follow this LINK and this LINK to the listing and schedule a showing. The farmhouse is sensitively and beautifully updated, and some lucky family could move in “as is.”
Yellow Springs Farm sits on a glorious conserved 8 acre parcel. The farmhouse as mentioned is restored and dates to 1850. A spring house, a bank barn, run in sheds and more await the right owner. The barn has a fabulous 1 bedroom apartment, suitable as a rental or space for visiting friends/family. If you think it’s you, contact:
Linda Burgwin Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. Office Ph: (610) 225-7400 Cell: (484)- 716-0163
And no, I am not getting into the real estate listing promotion business. This is a special place and the Renzis are special people. Please if you are interested in the farm, schedule a visit through a realtor properly. Please do not just drive up the driveway for a look see.
Catherine and Al, you know I wish you nothing but the best and look forward to your next chapter. Cheers to you both!
To those interested in preserving the character of Chester County, be like the Renzis and consider conservation. Conservation and preservation go hand in hand.
It’s like development Whack-a-mole. We hear the news that Crebilly is safe for now and about literally like 5 minutes later this spectacular property on the outskirts of Marshallton is threatened by development given the sales and marketing materials on the listing. As per The Marshallton Conservation Trust’s Facebook page:
“1451 and 1452 Camp Linden Road and is often referred to as “Tarad Hill” and sometimes as the Bunny Meister Farm. It consists of 136 acres and includes land spanning from Northbrook Road on the west to North Wawaset Road on the East.”
~ Marshallton Conservation Trust September 9th, 2021
I do not know the property, but I have been by the approximate location in the past. What is left of horse country in Chester County (not being flippant but development eats up the land like a giant game of PAC-MAN in this county) is upset my sources tell me. This property is being big ass big time marketed and there is a website up called “The Brandywine.“
Here are some screen shots:
The Realtor has serious chops. It’s Lavinia Smerconish, yes as in Michael Smerconish’s wife. Sadly, I wouldn’t expect him to necessarily be sympathetic to preservationists because real estate is quite simply in his blood, but wow, what if this was happening in Bucks County where he hails from originally? Would it resonate?
Realtors just have a job to do like anyone else, but wow just wow.
So here we go again, Chester County. A trust owns the land per the deed (and the name of the Trust shows up in Pocopson Meeting Minutes from February, 2021), but the address is oddly familiar isn’t it? Shame on them, but am I surprised? Nope.
Above is what the Marshallton Conservation Trust has to say. They left out expressing concern to the Realtor or famous husband. All I have to say is if you contact any of these people, be polite. It’s all sharks and lawyers.
I don’t know all (or a lot) of these horse-associated properties. However, the name of this place “Tarad Hill”, kept dinging in my brain. I knew I had heard of it, so I dug around to find the reference and it is Radnor Hunt Club. So not all who belong to Radnor Hunt belong to the foxhunt part, and not all who ride with the hunt are club members…but anyway, that is the reference and one can’t help but wonder, wonder, wonder what the foxhunters think? After all if this parcel gets developed in any manner, chances are they lose another prime location to ride in, right?
I don’t know. Chester County is kind of a development sh*t show at this point, so I don’t know if miracles will happen here and a conservation/preservation buyer will be found because when you read the marketing materials, it’s a just a fancy git’ r’ done and sold site, isn’t it? That is how it reads exactly – see it translated to Coldwell Banker, Opus Elite (and isn’t that company name absurdly pretentious AF?), Monument Southeby’s, ReMax in York, etc., etc.
Tarad Hill as a property is spoken about by people — apparently there is so much wildlife on that farm. Wild turkeys, bald eagles, herons, the list goes on. It is reportedly (and looks) magical. There is also historical importance. I was told the Hessians went through the property crossing at Trimble’s Ford on their way to defeat the “colonists” at the Battle of the Brandywine, causing Washington to retreat to Valley Forge for the winter. Yep, it’s more than just “Washington slept here”. Does it have bog turtles?
This property could indeed find a conservation/preservation buyer even from within the Chester County foxhunting ranks, but people have to want to save and preserve this. Of course all of the Chester County Realtors who go to Radnor, Devon, Polo matches etc, etc might have a client…you just never know, do you?
People are saying Toll Brothers is no longer the equitable owner of Crebilly because the contract was terminated, as per the group Neighbors for Crebilly/Brandywine in White. Therefore, Westtown Township Board of Supervisors then ruled tonight to deny the conditional use to build all those hideous houses.
I mean pinch me. I did have my third COVID-19 shot today so am I hallucinating? Or did this actually happen?
Damn. It happened. A municipality actually said NO to a developer in Chester County. The only media reporting that I can see is Chaddsford Live which has covered this from the beginning.
For all you naysayers out there, this is what the power of the people can do. I have no idea what will happen next for this property. This isn’t the first development plan that has been proposed for Crebilly over the years and I don’t think it’ll be the last.
But for now, Crebilly is safe.
I would suggest in closing, that people in communities all over Chester County take the spirit of Crebilly into their municipality boardrooms and fight to preserve where they call home.
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!
My vegetable box today had a couple things I was not sure would go together, but actually have quite nicely!
I had some beautiful young fresh red cabbage, and a couple of heads of fresh fennel. So I thought what could I do with them? Then I thought why not a kind of coleslaw? I’m out of carrots so I could use the fennel in place of the carrots.
Well it worked! I also added half of a red onion and a couple of apples.
Here’s what I did:
1. Grate a small to medium size head of red cabbage.
2. Clean a large fennel bulb and grate. Or two smaller bulbs. Save some of the frilly green frond tops for the dressing .
3. Grate 1/2 of a red onion,
4. Grate 2 medium apples with skin ON.
Toss everything together that you have grated into a bowl. Add a little salt to taste. I like Crazy Jane’s Mixed Up Salt.
In a separate little bowl whisk together a little handful of the fennel fronds minced, a quarter cup of mayonnaise, 4 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, three or 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.
Add the dressing to the grated everything bowl and mix together. Put it into the refrigerator to chill up and then taste again before serving to see if you need to adjust the salt or pepper.
They still call it “Troutbeck Farm”. Tisn’t a farm no more, is it?
Years from now, when people ask how all of the development happened, blame those we elected for not being better stewards of where we call home.
Willistown is becoming just as bad as every other municipality. Pity.
Touting yet another school district which is getting very overcrowded, right? Elite? Oh bully for them. Hope they wall themselves off. Read what Berkshire Hathaway had hawked above. They say “we do dirt.” Kind of funny turn of phrase, right? They do dirty perhaps?
Open space and farms. Hallmarks of Chester County. Now more and more just mere memories.
Weep for open space and farmland, Chester County. It’s day is more done every damn day.
I will freely admit I don’t know enough about either the program in Bucks County or Chester County to know if they are equal or unequal, but in Bucks County it seems more visible as a program and I think that makes a huge difference.
And if you have any questions about land conservation or preservation, we do have amazing groups to consult with. One of my favorites is Natural Lands.
Anyway I thought these “Preserved Farm” signs were genius.
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.
I mean seriously, how many more fields of plastic Troll houses does one municipality need?
This is on the agenda for this evening June 21. I’ve included what I found on their website and a helpful screenshot of some of the who is who in this Township, and don’t you find it fascinating that the township solicitor who is the township solicitor in a lot of other townships locally as well where big developments are pending including Troll Brothers?
Between the proposed use of eminent domain in East Goshen to the continued travails of “Berwyn Square“ or whatever they’re calling it now in Easttown, to Crebilly in Westtown, development of the week in East Whiteland, West Whiteland, and more, poor Chester County is going to cave into the ground from development and possibly even bad pipelines, right?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but figured people should know. Thanks for stopping by.
Oh why couldn’t my instincts have been wrong? The poor Hicks family.
Last night East Goshen voted 3-2 for eminent domain takings of the Hicks farm land. May God damn them all to hell, quite frankly. There are few things I abhor more than eminent domain.
When I first moved out here from Lower Merion to be with my now husband, we lived in East Goshen. I used to think the world of East Goshen township. No longer. No more.
I will be honest and say I was part of the group (Save Ardmore Coalition) in Lower Merion Township years ago which successfully defeated eminent domain in Ardmore. It was a brutal, often disheartening, community divisive issue. At the same time we were fighting eminent domain, the Sahas were fighting to save their farm from Coatesville taking their farm via eminent domain for a golf course. It was eventually classified as eminent domain for private gain, not sure if it started that way.
The Sahas won their case in Coatesville, as we did in Ardmore. The Sahas became friends through this process as we were all involved with The Institute for Justice. I feel so lucky that I can still visit their farm now Mt. Airy Lavender. The Saha family still owns and runs their farm in it’s new business. If Dick Saha was still alive, you would have seen him at that meeting last night. He would have rounded up his farmer friends and gone to East Goshen. That is the kind of guy he was.
Let’s start with the fact that the pro trail supervisors essentially disregarded Supervisor Michelle Truitt. Michelle offered an alternative plan. A plan that actually would work and the farmland and the Hicks Family would be spared. But the magic eminent domain trio are essentially behaving like misogynistic jerks in my opinion (which I am allowed to have), so that went nowhere fast.
So the documents you see above will be on East Goshen’s website tomorrow. I submitted a FOIA Right to Know and asked for these documents because although they SHOULD HAVE BEEN in the public meeting packet, they weren’t were they? They referred to meeting in executive session over “legal matters” and I am sure this was part of it only I have to ask if the eminent domain trio (“ED Trio”) didn’t want this out before the meeting? And in my humble opinion it should have been because well ED Trio, you are claiming eminent domain for public purpose which means…ummm…things should be public, right?
I also asked for a copy of the letter(or letters?) announcing this crap that were sent to the poor Hicks family and was told by the new township manager Derek Davis that he needed a legal opinion. Well East Goshen shares a solicitor with West Goshen and this person used to be with Easttown’s Planning Commission and is solicitor for East Brandywine and West Chester Borough and not sure where else will undoubtedly say “no”, right? So Hicks family if you decide you want to share the letters, please feel free. Those also should be part of the public record of this very public disgrace.
Oh and genuinely nice Derek Davis used to be the Assistant Manager at West Goshen, so with all these professional relationships between East Goshen and West Goshen, why is it it seems all fuzzy about the West Goshen part of this trail plan? And let’s talk about that: why is it if East Goshen doesn’t seem to have the West Goshen part of the puzzle worked out yet, why are they so gung-ho on eminent domain NOW? Greedy much?
And my hypothesis as to why now is simple: I think this trail has been a pet project of a retiring supervisor, right? So maybe as opposed to true public purpose this eminent domain issue is wound up in someone who wants a certain legacy? Well dude, 411 is eminent domain is now your legacy. Any good you did will flutter away into nothingness and THIS is what people will remember about you. This supervisor is Marty or Martin Shane. His term ends at the end of 2021. So East Goshen resident y’all better get your ducks in a row and get a candidate who will tip the scales against crap like this. Do it Ardmore style: make this an election issue. Whomever saunters up as a candidate should sign an anti-eminent domain pledge. If they won’t do that, find another person.
I also found it verrrry interesting that East Goshen went 100% in person for this meeting and did not offer zoom as well. And they could have since we are all newly emerged from the COVID world. That’s a little too cute, kind of like West Goshen’s technical difficulties for their YouTube or whatever stream of their meeting last night. Kind of Britney Spears oops I did it again, but I digress.
Now let’s get into the meeting. Watch the video. My heart breaks for this family. Eminent domain is legal stealing, it’s bullying, and abusive. Kind of the way a couple of those East Goshen Supervisors were behaving.
The worst behaved of the East Goshen Supervisors was probably Chair David Shuey. He loves the sound of his own voice for sure and he knows everything. The king of “don’t interrupt me” and he’ll have people removed. Behaved like a total douche. Oh yes I am allowed to have that opinion of an elected official. Watch the meeting.
Shuey tried to proclaim how community positive he was and how he was against eminent domain for the pipeline and the whole traffic circle of it all that almost happened. I was at that traffic circle meeting, and he wasn’t user friendly there and I believe with the proposed eminent domain for the traffic circle and the pipelines it was more politically expedient to say he was against THAT eminent domain. For the Paoli Pike trail to nowhere, it’s more politically expedient to say eminent domain is the way to go.
Oh and of course Shuey tries to compare this Paoli Pike trail to the Radnor Trail. Apples and oranges dude, and no farms lost land for it. Do you think when that trail was built if it had been slated to go through Ardrossan’s cow field it would have gone through? Oh hell to the no and East Goshen will never be Main Line, and shouldn’t want to be. And then Shuey said something to the effect that East Goshen needs to be more competitive and say what? East Goshen was a gem, now it’s crown as a great Chester County community if forever tarnished and it’s sad, he can’t see the forest for the trees on this. He has a huge ego and he was combative and dismissive of residents. And I don’t know that he actually took all of the public comment. I know dude is a Democrat but last night he was very Trump-like in demeanor. Very unattractive public servant behavior in my humble opinion.
One of the speakers who resonated with me from the public in addition to the Hicks family and horse owners involved on their farm was former State Representative Dan Truitt. I have always liked Dan Truitt. He is quite simply a good man with a strong moral compass and sense of ethics. He made a heartfelt appeal to the supervisors to stop this process before it starts.
If I understand this convoluted trail mess correctly it’s like $5 Million Bucks a Mile and they don’t know if they will have all of the land in the end? So why eminent domain now? And it’s not like they will give it back if this goes kerflooey right?
Some folks out there in public opinion land are of the mind that this shouldn’t be such a big deal and the family sliced off pieces of land in the past. What they owned at one time in total is hardly the point. In fact, it’s not the point at all. What is the point are also the other potential impacts if East Goshen takes the land. They run an equine-based business and farm. HUGE amount of liability insurance they must pay for. Putting a trail for people as in strangers there all of the time puts the liability in a very bad spot, potentially a bad enough spot that they could possibly NOT have coverage and detrimentally affect their business, their livelihood . It’s not as simple or as offensive as saying “well they sold land before.”
Eminent Domain is legal stealing and it’s wrong.
Someone said to me “it’s just a sidewalk”. It’s not just a sidewalk. And it’s a trail part that may very well never be completed. And we’re also talking about a working farm. Again, you can’t just put sidewalks through working farms. It affects their liability which affects their ability to do their business on their own damn land. And the most important thing is the Hicks family said no. This is no better than when Coatesville tried to take my friends the Sahas’ farm years ago for a golf course.
Eminent Domain is legal stealing and it’s wrong.
A couple of comments from local community pages that have stood out to me:
(1) “Unfortunately (the way I understand this is going down) the walking path will disrupt a small business that currently uses the property in question as a private riding stable. People (and their dogs) are not always respectful of “do not pat or feed the horses” signs and this opens a huge liability issue up for the business owner. Horses can be unpredictable and spook easily creating potential harm and injury to both themselves and those around them. I think utilizing the property that they already have access to across the street makes more sense.“
(2) “In late 2019 the supervisors were using this bike/walking trail to justify changing the zoning along Paoli Pike from Boot Rd to 352 to allow three story apartment buildings with shops underneath. Also wanted zoning to allow townhouses at Boot and Paoli Pike and 352 and Paoli Pike. The plan was for Goshenville to be a town center. They were saying people will use the trail to bike and walk to this town center. People were very opposed to the change in zoning and I’m not sure if this plan is still in play. They had maps and renderings of the Town Center on their website. The building of the trail seemed to have a lot to do with this vision of Goshenville.“
I also think this debacle was a horrible final thing for retiring manager Rick Smith. This is what people will remember with him as well and that makes me sad. East Goshen can proclaim all the Rick Smith Days they want, what people will remember is the meeting last night and a particular exchange between he and one of the Hicks family members where he was quoted as saying “the train is coming” I guess in reference to eminent domain. It’s on the public meeting tape, and I did not misquote.
MAY 31, 2011 by Buck Sweeney email@example.com 608.283.6743
“In a recent case from the Court of Appeals, Hildebrand v. Town of Menasha, the appeal court upheld Judge Scott Woldt’s opinion in a Winnebago County assessment case. In this particular case, the Town of Menasha specially assessed a vacant commercial property owner for the cost of placing a trail through the property. The Hildebrands were assessed $33,205.60 in construction costs for the installation of a 10’ asphalt trail abutting their commercial property. In response, the Hildebrands filed a notice of appeal to the circuit court raising numerous issues.
The question for the trial court, which was upheld by the Court of Appeals, was whether the Hildebrands’ property was:
*Specially benefitted by the trail segment for which the assessments were imposed. *Whether the trail segment for which assessments were imposed constitutes a local improvement. *Whether the trail segment for which assessments were imposed constitutes a general improvement for the community at large and therefore not a proper subject for imposition of the special assessments.
The evidence at trial made it very clear that this particular trail was clearly not a sidewalk, but was in fact a bike trail to help connect a regional multi-community recreational trail linking Oshkosh to Hortonville. The trail in question was asphalt and 10’ wide, unlike most typical sidewalks.
After the Town realized that they were losing, they tried to transform the trail into a sidewalk. Too late, according to the Court of Appeals.
If municipalities want to make sure they have a correct legal special assessment, the assessment must be local. Although incidentally beneficial to the public at large, its primary means for the accommodation and convenience of inhabitants in a particular locality and confers special benefits to the property.
Remember, if you do notwant your sidewalk to be specially assessed, consider asking your municipality to place a 10’ asphalt trail through your yard.“
My head is spinning. I thought I was done with hating eminent domain but it just keeps trying to happen.
The Hicks Family said NO. East Goshen is WRONG.
Oh and procedurally I found other issues with the meeting other than the eminent domain resolutions were omitted from the public meeting packets. Like they should have done a ROLL CALL vote on this and they DID NOT. So do you want to know who voted YES for eminent domain? Marty Shane, David Shuey, and Mike Lynch. Shane is gone at the end of 2021 and Shuey and Lynch are done in 2023. East Goshen residents need to get on the stick now. And not let up one minute until these people are out of office. They are not so much public servants as they are self-serving. They are the Eminent Domain Trio forevermore.
As a human being, I stand with the Hicks family. Their land, their decision. They said no. Residents of East Goshen and Chester County residents and farmers, please stand with this family. This is crap. Pure and simple.
#HandsOffTheHicksFarmpass it on. Post it. Share it. Stand with this family. Trust me, you think eminent domain couldn’t happen to you…until it does. Remember Stonleigh and Natural Lands?
Eminent domain is an ugly business. It is defined as the right of a government to take private property for public use by virtue of the superior dominion of the sovereign power over all lands within its jurisdiction.