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?
Roostergate II is very active and one of the many issues plaguing Willistown Township. There are two women vying for supervisor, Molly Perrin and Cindi Myers. Where are they on the CURRENT issues in Willistown? I am not including the sewer sale in this, because Willistown broke up with AQUA already and a couple of the original sewer rats are creating ridiculous issues over not quite sure what so they don’t count…although it was amusing to see them taken to task for essentially “fake news” at this evening’s meeting…but I digress…sorry not sorry.
Anyway, one of the BIG BIG issues again are roosters. And not just on one street although the Martyrrific Rooster Mommy of Laurel Circle does seem to draw attention to herself, doesn’t she?
So in the spirit of KYC or KNOW YOUR CANDIDATE, where are Molly Perrin and Cindi Myers on Roosters and potential abuse of ASA (Agricultural Security Areas)? This rooster issue has been going on since 2019 the first time, right?
Therefore ladies vying for votes, let’s have it. You have Facebook pages as candidates, so let’s git r’ done. This is a local issue, ergo a should be discussed election issue.
AS SUPERVISOR, HOW EXACTLY TO YOU PLAN TO DEAL WITH THE ROOSTER ISSUE?ARE ROOSTERS IN CHARGE OR WILLISTOWN OFFICIALS?
DO NOT MESSAGE ME. POST YOUR POSITION ON YOUR LOVELY CAMPAIGN PAGES. AND IF YOU DON’T DECLARE WHERE YOU ARE ON THIS ISSUE, THAT WILL SADLY ANSWER QUESTIONS VOTERS HAVE. LADIES, IF YOU WANT TO MAKE AN OMLETTE, YOU HAVE TO BREAK SOME EGGS.
Cock a doodle do ladies, cock a doodle do. I don’t have a proverbial horse (or rooster) in this race, but your fellow residents want to know what you are planning on doing. One of you will be elected in November and there is no hiding behind the other supervisors on this and other issues, there can’t be and shouldn’t be ….. Your constituency wants to hear the sound of your voices. Right now you aren’t saying much of anything about anything and well, speak up, find your voices…or why are you even running?
Not trying to be mean because I like you both, but neither of you say much of anything publicly about issues and it’s quite frankly perplexing.
Now I was sent the photos of the Mt. Airy location today, Tuesday. If the CSA pick up is on Thursday, are those leftover vegetables and have they been sitting there since then? Blech if true, and does that attract vermin ?
Also rather ironic but I actually have a jar of the lavender honey she sells. On the website it says “Raw Unfiltered Honey sourced from a local apiary company.” Yes, so how do you know that’s true? If you were doing your honey in a partnership with local beekeepers, wouldn’t you tell people where the honey was actually coming from?
I didn’t like the honey at all and I am tossing it. And it’s sold for $12 a jar on the website and it is the tiniest little jar. I love honey, and I buy local honey, but I know where it comes from as in where the hives are located and where the honey is actually processed. Thanks I will stick with Chester County grown and produced honey. Besides local honey is great for allergies.
And speaking of how much things cost one of my readers had left a comment somewhere on this blog about going to visit and finding the hours inconsistent (being kind) in Westtown, and that peaches were $2.00 each?! Were they flecked with gold leaf?
No, I have not gone over to visit in Westtown. I don’t really have any desire to. Maybe as time goes by that will change but for my asking questions, I received vile comments from her supporters and somebody who condones bad behavior like that I’m not going to run out and support, are you?
And something that I keep wondering about is it keeps talking about she’s in this agreement with Westtown but what’s the agreement exactly? How much does she rent the land for? I’m asking because I legitimately don’t know and I have no idea how much it was for the prior farmer Pete all those years. if the land lays follow for three years to become organic, did Westtown offer a period of rental abatement?
And if she’s all down with helping alleviate food insecurity in communities, she is now in Chester County correct? It would be nice if she participated where her business is. Chester County Food Bank, The Lord’s Pantry, People’s Pantry, etc.
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.
There are things within a community that happen where people can no longer sit idly by and say oh that’s too bad or I really should say something and say/do nothing. Saving Lionville Station Farm is one of these formative moments. This is a pivotal issue within the community, where they can no longer sit idly by.
I believe in the people trying to stop this mega warehouse monstrosity from coming to pass. For whatever it is worth, I support them. I know some of the people. I also had friends that used to live back there at one time who would be affected if they were still there.
I mean, can you literally imagine sitting in your beautiful backyard that you have worked so hard to earn, and your entire view shed is taken up by walls of giant warehouses as far as the eye can see, so large you can’t even take an adequate photo?
And along with this project, the whole right of homeowners to have an expectation of private enjoyment will go right out the window. 24 hours a day seven days a week truck after truck car after car in and out of this complex if it gets built? There will be no peace.
These are the projects that destroy communities. These are like the data centers. These are like the hydrogen hubs. These are the overly dense projects that developers bring into communities just like all the goddamn apartment buildings built on what was farmland that we really don’t need, but we’re getting anyway.
These are the projects that make you wonder what the hell the Chester County Planning Commission is doing, along with the County Commissioners? It also makes you wonder what the State Representatives and State Senators are doing for us in Harrisburg? Which is really kind of nothing on these issues.
A project like this shows you how woefullly outdated once again the Municipalities Planning Code is. The world has changed a lot since circa 1969 and the State Reps and State Senators are lazy because they have to enact an act of the state constitution to update this and they WON’T. You see it’s not that they CAN’T, they won’t.
This is why all of these bad overly dense development plans including but not limited to this Audubon plan in Uwchlan for mega warehouses on Lionville Station Farm need to be election issues every single election cycle until meaningful changes occur. This is truthfully an election issue on every level and it starts with the Downingtown Area School District School Board.
This is a standalone issue. And many supporters of the school board are trying to conflate this issue with others and that’s wrong. Truthfully this is essentially how everything gets stalled in Congress and the US Senate. Sometimes things can be their own issue and should be.
DASD has the ability during August to unwind the contract. That means they have the ability to stop mega warehouses.
This developer has developed other kinds of projects like Shannondell, which is a wonderful, senior living and life care facility. A project like that, for example, wouldn’t put more kids in the school district. And with an aging population, something like this is actually needed.
And while I am not, and never will support extremism and corresponding candidates for school board, but sadly if the DASD doesn’t stop the madness, they are going to lose the support of lots of people going forward. And that includes me.
With all the ugliness in this school district over the past few years, I have done my level best to support the path of right. For that, I have been verbally abused, harassed, harangued, doxxed, etc. This was for supporting the issues against the craziness of things like the anti-maskers/anti-vaxxers, anti-everything, Drag Queens reading to little kids and attending fundraisers, and more. I didn’t help to make myself money or anything like that, I helped because it was the right thing to do. But now I am asking for something in return. I am asking for them to withdraw from the contract with Audubon in August like they arelegally able to!
I have gladly supported the issues of these people fighting to save their school district. It’s time for them to support the people in their community on this issue. Giant warehouses, hydrogen hubs, and data centers don’t help any resident anywhere. these are projects which suck up land and ruin communities.
A friend of mine described mega warehouses as being so huge it was like somebody put a tarp over the City of Philadelphia. We were having a conversation about their drive recently down to Washington DC and passing mega warehouses. They had wanted to take photos of the warehouses, but they were so big you couldn’t take like just one photo to even grasp the concept of size and scale. Or how terrifying the tractor trailers coming in and out of these places made the roadways.
I suspect some Downingtown school board directors/members didn’t understand why they were being sent the questionnaire and the pledge from SLSF. The conclusion probably is that they feel it has nothing to do with their job. Actually, it has everything to do with their jobs because they’re elected officials who are also part of a community and as a school board director/member you have an elected responsibility to do what’s best. And if you think giant warehouses are the best thing for your community then you don’t deserve to be in office. It is pretty much that simple to me. And it pains me to say that because some of these folks are just wonderful.
And I’m not accepting the general school board cop-out that their solicitor “doesn’t think it’s a good idea.” I mean for real, do you really think he cares about all of you and your issues? That guy is just all politics of a certain kind isn’t he?
So to the Downingtown school board people that I have supported all along, sadly this is where I have to draw a line in the sand. I want you all to succeed and truly keep your school board seats, but this issue of mega warehouses? You need to stop being pussies and step up and do the right thing. I’m tired of mincing words.
If you do not stop the mega warehouses while you have the opportunity and support the community that pays taxes to you, please don’t expect me to be giving your causes and issues a supportive platform going forward. I’m not saying I won’t be supportive, but what I am saying is I will no longer go out of my way to help. If you can’t help with this issue and stand up and be adults and do the right thing, why do you expect everybody else to support you all of the time?
And DASD, you aren’t the only elected official who is ignoring this. There are two sitting county commissioners running for reelection, and one empty suit, baby kisser running for the Republican minority seat, who also are ignoring this situation and this pledge/questionnaire
So all of you out there know I like the truth. I also learned interesting factual unvarnished truth today while digging in to write.
My research indicates and is validated that the guy named Duanne and the co-opt candidate “Professor” Bressi talk a really good game about SAVING LIONVILLE STATION FARM BUT HAVE NOT RETURNED A COMPLETED CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE OR ACTUALLY SIGNED THE PLEDGE TO SAVE LIONVILLE STATION FARM!
To me that puts them in the category of liar, liar pants on fire. They are only trying to steal a campaign issue of residents of Chester County for their own political gain, which is why quite frankly I would throw their arses out of every social media group they belong to. If they meant what they said, they would sign the pledge and complete the questionnaire. Period. End of story.
If they are really interested in Saving Lionville Station Farm it would’ve been easy peeszy to complete the questionnaire and send it back in with a signed pledge.
BUT they HAVE NOT. So that is a very easy distinction for people to see why they shouldn’t vote for them for school board. These politicians are not doing things for people, only to further their own political gain. However, this is why it also looks really bad when the people who are in office haven’t signed the pledge. And that’s including two county commissioners up for reelection and not just the school board people.
I thought I would just point this out to all of you.
Here are all the politicians/candidates who have not signed the pledge, or completed the questionnaire:
Whether people like it or not stopping, mega warehouses has become a campaign issue for the fall of 2023. And it goes into the same bad category of pipelines, data centers, hydrogen, hubs, and too much goddamned development in general.
Politicians, this isn’t difficult. Working to stop mega warehouses will result in a plurality that will remember this on Election Day this fall. Ignoring the plurality on mega warehouses will most probably result in the demise of some candidates. It’s a simple fact of life sadly.
To the members of the Downingtown Are School District School Board, who are running for reelection and wish to keep their seats, ponder this carefully. This is literally your Waterloo. So y’all get to decide if you want to be Napoleon or The Duke of Wellington.
Uwchlan said no to the crazy overnight construction hours requested by Portman who will be destroying Happy Days Farm, which originally was a Penn Land Grant. Portman which acquired this magnificent property wanted overnight construction from 7 PM to 3 AM.
And in unexpected news, Audubon Land Development WITHDREW their preliminary sketch plan for Lionville Station Farm.
This is far from over. This isn’t winning the war against mega warehouses, it’s just a battle won. Neighbors and concerned citizens MUST remain vigilant.
Now we are all being asked to write to Downingtown Area School District:
Email the DASD school board and superintendent.
Uwchlan Township has confirmed that Audubon has “diligently” withdrew their mega-warehouse sketch plan. Remember when DASD attorney Mr. Roger Huggins went on the record and said “so far Audubon’s been doing a pretty good job and they have been diligently pursuing their obligations.” Well, any fact finder can tell you that by withdrawing your sketch plan, you are not diligently pursuing anything.
My email is below. Feel free to use as you wish in drafting your message.
Dear DASD school board and Superintendent,
The prospective purchaser of the Siemens Property (Audubon Land Development) has withdrawn their proposed sketch plan from Uwchlan Township.
Consequently, since the sales agreement took effect on July 13, 2022, over a year ago, there has been a complete lack of official progress in meeting their commitments to pursue the land’s development rights.
Any studies that may have been communicated with you have not been received by the Township, nor have they been formally submitted. This renders them essentially meaningless.
Maintaining this property under contract with a potential buyer who has shown no measurable progress in pursuing development endeavors represents a violation of your fiduciary obligations. You are now dealing with a buyer who is actively failing to adhere to the contractual terms. The buyer is already in default.
With no existing sketch plan and no possibility of obtaining conditional use approval by August 29th, it is now your responsibility to promptly terminate this agreement with Audubon.
Enough is enough!
It should now be very clear to you that the $96M has always been a fantasy. Yes, you got played. It’s time to do the right thing before you do any more harm to the reputation of our school district and our community.
~ Message this morning to from Save Lionville Station Farm
A round of applause goes to SAVE Lionville Station Farm which is doing a great job in spite of certain factions incorrectly asserting that they are supporting extremist school board candidates like Chris Bressi. They are not. Chris Bressi and his tribe keep trying to co-opt their issue and group. This group has one purpose and that is to stop the warehouses.
This group has asked politicians current and prospective to sign a pledge essentially asking for them to agree to SAVE Lionville Station Farm and the surrounding area from the insanity of mega warehouse development and that means if elected or on school board voting no.
This pledge is very similar to the ones we as the then Save Ardmore Coalition many many years ago asked politicians current and prospective to sign to stop eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore. Save Lionville Station Farm is NON PARTISAN just like we were.
The Save Lionville Station Farm Group has been challenged constantly since inception by factions and people trying to co-opt, infiltrate, take over, take advantage of what their goal is: TO STOP MEGA WAREHOUSES AND SAVE LIONVILLE STATION FARM.
The fact that these people in this group have put down politics for community and the greater good is amazing in this ridiculous political climate is nothing short of amazing.
So kindly see more cheap political tricks from people like “Professor” Chris Bressi as exactly what they are: cheap political tricks. This politician in particular will use any community group or cause around for personal gain. Even a Uwchlan Supervisor has commented on it in a community group.
I believe in honor and integrity, and I do not believe this politician has either. He will tell you he does and he likes to talk about those words, but I don’t think he actually knows what they mean in real life.
If someone farts and Bressi can use it, repost, and ask for a campaign donation, he does it. He’s only supporting himself and attempting to co-opt everyone and everything else. He’s like an empty suit. And although he shows up at events gladhanding the music thing about this political candidate is he never wants his photo taken.
Bressi’s kindred spirit running for County Commissioner, David Sommers, is more subtle but he’s hanging around to try to get votes not to actually help residents here. He doesn’t actually say he’s for saving anything other then his political aspirations, and he has a website that is glossy and full of unicorns farting rainbows but the devil is in the details and he hangs around with Margie Miller from DASD who is most definitely a snake. He will have his photo taken with anything or anyone that stands still long enough. As always, he’s running a campaign that is all fluff and little substance. And he hasn’t seemed to pledge to stop mega warehouses, or fill out a candidate questionnaire. So that answers your question right there about what he’s about.
Political candidates like these two aren’t going to know your name, if they get elected. They are going to remember that they signed any pledges to do anything other than further their own ambition.
But what I am seeing out here is people trying to conflate school board issues. For the people trying to save Lionville Station Farm that is their issue. It is not to be added to or conflated with other issues. People on both sides are trying to conflate their issue with other issues, as well as co-opt them for political gain.
And then you have the people on the DASD school board that people actually like and want to have them stay in the office, only they’re cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Their community is not saying don’t sell the land if you can’t afford to keep it, they’re asking to save the area from mega warehouses. They are asking that Chester county not be made to look like the Allentown, I-80 corridor.
I am a realist. And I also get frustrated by people who just say to save everything as open space yet then never even suggest how that is supposed to be afforded.
Unless a land angel appears from the sky, I don’t think this parcel will be completely protected in perpetuity. But I do think that there has to be another better plan out there and another buyer for the parcel that could at least preserve some of it and not load it up with apartments or mega warehouses.
I will close by saying that I think everyone needs to stop being used by the current crop of political candidates. And people fighting to keep the DASD school board from going crazy like it should be in Bucks County instead of Chester County need to remember that Saving Lionville station farm is a standalone issue. Do not conflate it with other issues. And it’s OK for it to be it’s own issue.
To the school board directors of the Downingtown Area School District I simply state the following: you have the unique opportunity here to unwind a disastrous plan. Take that opportunity and run with it. Don’t do an imitation of Lower Merion School District’s school board. Do the right thing for your community. Give people the best reason possible to still believe in you: believe in them and stop the warehouses which will detrimentally affect everyone even the district. And get a new solicitor for your school district.
Stop the bad plan, seek a new plan and compromise with your community.
I will also note that I have had people who want the warehouses stopped attack me for suggesting they not get used by politicians. Their largest retort is my trying to pass along the benefit of prior experience as being a distraction to their mission is kind of funny.
Ok whatever. I can walk away from lots of issues I’ve been helpful on. And I can stop responding to people that contacted me looking for help as well. And I might just do that. Which would be a bummer because the one thing you can always count on if I try to help and it’s not that I want something, it’s not that I want your vote for elected office, I just do things because I think it’s the right thing to do.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it as my one grandmother used to say
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 email@example.com.
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: