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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY WEST CHESTER GROWERS MARKET!! 

WE LOVE YOU IN CHESTER COUNTY!!

 

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can you help identify this chester county bridge

UPDATE: thanks to my awesome readers we have an ID on the bridge! It is the Knox Covered Bridge in Valley Forge Park!

FROM EARLIER:

A lady I know needs our help. Her beloved aunt painted this little painting in the 1950s. She would like to identify the bridge. I know I have seen this bridge but cant remember where.

Please comment if you know the name and location. Thanks!

LOL I actually took this photo!

Photo from a few years ago.

when good conquers evil eminent domain you get lavender fields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will be open 11 am to 4pm on:

Saturday, June 22 & Sunday, June 23

Saturday, June 29 & Sunday, June 30

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

Click here for directions to their slice of heaven.

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

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

for the love of goats

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One of the New Kids on The Block at Yellow Springs Farm

Ha! That title caught your eye, eh gentle readers?

Good! I love my Yellow Springs Farm goats! Well they aren’t really my goats but I love them. And every year, this time of year Yellow Springs Farm has open farm weekends :

Sat, 05/18/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Sun, 05/19/2019 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
Yellow Springs Farm Native Plant Nursery and Artisanal Goat Cheese Dairy, will be having our Springs Native Plant sale over 2 weekends in May. Originally a dairy farm 150 years ago,the farm and nursery consists of an historic farmhouse, dairy barn, a springhouse with pond on 8 acres of land. We grow native plants, design and install native landscapes and produce over 25 varieties of fresh and aged artisanal goat cheeses. So come on out and take a picture on our Open Farm day weekends(May 11th/12th and May 18th and 19th) with our Nubian Goats, sample cheeses, and see our blooming wildflowers! Plant experts will be available to help you select plants for your garden or landscape plan.

It’s a little slice of heaven. The goats are total characters. The plants are awesome – I have planted three gardens with them now. And the goat cheese and yogurt? Award winning for a very good reason – totally delicious.

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People visiting with the goats this weekend.

I have known the farmers Catherine and Al Renzi for years.  I remember back to circa 2001 when they decided to start their farm and when they bought it.

Over the years a well-deserved following has developed and the event has grown…as in the number of visitors increases every year. And this is where I am going to open my big mouth because it is a distinct privilege being able to visit Catherine and Al’s farm. And no, I don’t work or speak for the farm, I am speaking my mind based upon what I saw out of guests this year that I thought wasn’t the best behavior ever considering these farmers open up their farm (where they live and work) to all of us. 

Let’s start with parking.  They know their farm and their road so they tell you quite politely where to park.  That doesn’t mean the road and it doesn’t mean parking in roped off areas of the farm or blocking people in or even taking what amount to multiple spaces. Be polite, you are a guest.

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This is a farm. Not a dog park.

Pets.  This weekend people bought their dogs. Yes their dogs like it was a dog park.  It’s not a dog park, it’s a working farm with valuable animals including the farm’s own dog.  It is simply not fair to presume YOUR pets are welcome.  Keep them at home. Please. That’s like bringing uninvited guests to a sit-down dinner party.

The goats.  The goats are lovely creatures who are independent minded.  So listen to the goat herders. They know their charges.  And please do not feed their charges.  They have plenty of their own food.  Yes, they look at you with those big brown eyes but resist LOL, resist!

The plants. The plants are awesome!  Around 200 varieties of native plants. From all over the Mid Atlantic and Northeast.  I bought my first witch hazels ever here years ago.  On Saturday I had an impulse buy: one of my favorite kinds of oak trees, a Chestnut Oak. It was here at Yellow Springs that I discovered one of my favorite native perennials called Indian Pinks. Also flame azaleas.

And the cheeses? Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmm.  I recommend the goat cheese with mushrooms that was recommended to me this weekend. I can’t remember it’s proper name but it was delicious.

Yellow Springs Farm is located at:

1165 Yellow Springs Rd  
Chester Springs, Pennsylvania 19425
 (610) 827-2014
 www.yellowspringsfarm.com

Enjoy the goat photos and thanks for stopping by.

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dear east whiteland and east goshen: we need a little “sunshine” about shared intersection improvements at king and 352.

352 and king

For a while (as in at least a couple of years by my estimation), we’ve been hearing about the potential of intersection inprovements at Route 352/N. Chester Rd/Sproul Rd and King Road.

Mentions of it have shown up in reports in East Goshen and East Whiteland. It even showed up in an East Goshen newsletter in 2017.

March 2018 3 EGT

But what we as residents of these two townships have been hearing lately is disturbing.  A traffic circle.  Personally I hate them.  That is not why I find it disturbing, however.  What disturbs me is to build/construct a traffic circle land has to be taken. Taking as in eminent domain.  So who is on board exactly as a resident with this?

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How many residents in these municipalities, would lose land and/or their homes? I certainly wouldn’t be o.k. with that.  Would you? So if the traffic circle happened, potentially would Lockwood Chase development residents be o.k. with the historic marker sign for Battle of the Clouds being moved as well as whose homes might have to go by byes?

And what of my friend Tim and others who might be looking at some kind on GINORMOUS retaining wall?

There is not much information the public can look at.  I will be honest and tell you I have put in Right to Know Requests for East Whiteland and East Goshen about this project, and I encourage others to do so as well…especially if you live closer to ground zero for proposed intersection improvements. I fully expect them to deny a lot of what I asked for, but I am asking anyway.  If they say they won’t on the basis of real estate, that to me would be an indicator as to the truth of plans that include eminent domain.

I do not have a problem with improving the intersection, I have a problem with circles AT THIS LOCATION as I think they are a nightmare and MOST IMPORTANTLY BECAUSE I AM 100% AGAINST EMINENT DOMAIN.

March 2018 EGT

A simple solution of course would be signal improvements which would allow each of the four sides to go individually. (I do not know if I am articulating that properly.)

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I am not a traffic engineer but sometimes simple solutions are the best.

Of course I must also mention that, d’oh, the increasing problems at this intersection has to do with increasing traffic….and a lot of that has to do with ALL of the development out here.

Increased development = increased density = increased traffic = increased burdens on infrastructure.

I think we as residents need to be granted more transparancy as this process progresses.  I do not think we should settle for “don’t worry, we’re working on it.”

Please watch an excerpt of the April 10, 2019 East Whiteland meeting. The excerpt I captured contains public comment on this topic.  I think if you live in East Whiteland or East Goshen or travel through this intersection from other neighboring munipalities on a regular basis you should definintely watch my friend Tim’s presentation.

Residents of East Whiteland and East Goshen together we are stronger.

#NoCircle #NoEminentDomain

what is really going on in caln township with lloyd farm?

Many thanks to Abandoned Steve Explorations for the use of his gorgeous photo of Lloyd Farm in Caln Township.

Abandoned Steve Explorations took the glorious photo I am opening this post with. I am positively obsessed with the cool structures he covers. He was nice enough to lend us the use of this photo it’s part of an upcoming project. You can find him on Facebook , his website, and YouTube.

Lloyd Farm is haunting me. Part of a Penn Land Grant, dating its origins to the 1600s.

(See this history by Edward C. Lendrat)

Then there is the 18th Century farmhouse with an equally historic 1901 addition.

What am I talking about? 1757 was when the farmhouse was originally built and 1910 when the Lloyd family commissioned Gilbert McIlvaine the Philadelphia architect to build a “modern” addition that paid homage and melded with the original farmhouse. Mr. McIlvaine maintained a home in Downingtown for many years and was also active in the Boy Scouts founding several troops I am told in Chester County.

Back to Lloyd Farm…except the people who have called it home or who had something to do with it are important to the very fabric of Lloyd Farm’s history.

Yesterday I learned surprising news when a copy of an old historic preservation application was unearthed from the early 1980s – possibly 1982. Yes – seriously – Lloyd Farm Application for Historic Designation: PA Historic Resource Form Circa 1982.

From this form we learned quite a few things including that Lloyd Farm around or before the Civil War was a freaking stop on the Underground Railroad!

It’s just crazy and you have to ask what in the heck is going on in Caln Township? How long have these commissioners known the history of Lloyd Farm and why didn’t that historic designation proceed? Why wasn’t it pursued for a national historical status?

Did I mention the demolition permit? There is one. And what is with the date mismatch in that letter thing?

I don’t live in Caln. I do know amusingly enough like Lower Merion Township , it’s a First Class Township. But who runs the Township? Because it surely doesn’t seem like the elected commissioners does it? I know in Lower Merion Township years ago because I was part of it when the residents rose up after having had enough over the threat of eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore that we flipped half of the board of commissioners in one election.

And Caln residents are upset about this.

Really upset.

I want to know why the developer wants to tear down the house don’t you? Is this going to be like the death of Addison Mizner’s La Ronda in Bryn Mawr, PA? A case where a magnificent home was torn down for salvage just because someone could?

Caln resident submitted photo.

Look at the historic comparables in Chester County that are actually getting saved and restored: West Whiteland Inn, Exton. Benjamin Jacobs House, Exton. Fox Chase Inn and Barn, Exton. Linden Hall, Malvern (even if I don’t like some of what is being done it’s being saved, finally.) Loch Aerie, Malvern. The Jenny Lind House, Yellow Springs Village.

Also to be considered? Several Toll Brothers projects including in Chester County where similar vintage farmhouses and/or barns have been or are being saved. Now it is no secret how I feel about Toll Brothers developments, but if even they can preserve historic structures on properties they are developing why couldn’t the developer for Lloyd Farm do that? Or why couldn’t they contemplate something like selling off the farmhouse with a small plot of land around it to someone who might want to preserve it and live in it or something like that?

Caln resident submitted photo.

I don’t have the answers and every day I have more and more questions. This is one of those situations I just don’t get it. I just don’t get what is going on here. I don’t understand why this property isn’t more valued for the centuries of history involved here?

Our history should not always belong to the wrecking ball.

That’s all I have got.

#SaveLloydFarm #ThisPlaceMatters

Caln resident submitted photo.

reaffirming the gratitude jar

I have mentioned for years now that I have a gratitude jar. I had read about it a few years ago and it was just a simple thing to make us as human beings focus on the positives and the good things in our lives.

Sometimes when a bunch of negative things happen all in a row, it’s hard to stay positive. I find it hard to stay positive because I do not think by my very nature I am naturally positive. I have to work at it.

I think positive for me has been learned behavior, and it’s something I have to relearn and reaffirm again and again. Hopefully, someday it will be second nature to me.

A quote I found on another blogger’s post about gratitude jars is something I would like to share:

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

I think that’s a pretty powerful statement. In the instant gratification social media-centric world in which we live, this quote which is pretty damn old is still current, isn’t it?

Lao Tzu was known as the father of Taoism. Mind you, many modern writers feel this is NOT a real person at all, but a legendary figure whose writings were actually created by many different people. And yes I got off on a tangent, so back to the gratitude jar.

Having a gratitude jar is a simple reminder that life is not all bad or all difficult. Having a gratitude jar helps you focus on the things that are wonderful in your life. Even every day little things are wonderful.

Having a gratitude jar helps us reaffirm the many positives in our life. Life can be hard. I am not trying to be Pollyanna and say everything is always wonderful with fuzzy caterpillars that turn into magical butterflies. I am more of a realist than that.

I just think we live in a completely crazy world at times and a simple thing like a gratitude jar is a great way to keep us honest and keep us thankful and keep us grateful.

Here is an old post from girls on the run on how to make a gratitude jar with your children (click on the hyperlink).

Some people empty their gratitude jars on an annual basis and re-read everything at the end of the old year or beginning of the new year. I don’t do that. I intermittently check out what I have written in the past and add a new note to the jar. I don’t add notes every day. Sometimes I go quite a while without adding anything. This morning I added two notes.

I will close with something I learned as a small child while attending Saint Peter’s School in Philadelphia. We used to learn songs seasonally for lack of a better description, and in the fall around harvest time or what would’ve been harvest time since we were at school in the middle of Society Hill, we used to sing a song called Simple Gifts. It was a Shaker song / hymn written by a Shaker Elder named Joseph Brackett in the 1840s.

Even Yo Yo Ma has recorded a version of it. It’s a classic in my opinion and it’s very beautiful. And I am not a particularly religious person although I have my faith.

The song was largely unknown outside of Shaker communities until the composer Aaron Copland used its melody for the score of Martha Graham’s ballet Appalachian Spring (Shakers once worshipped on Holy Mount, in the Appalachians), first performed in 1944.

Mr. Copland also reportedly used “Simple Gifts” a second time in his first set of “Old American Songs for voice and piano”, which was later orchestrated

Here are the lyrics and thanks for stopping by:

Simple Gifts Lyrics

Joseph Brackett (1797 – 1882)

(Shaker dancing song)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

  ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,

  To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

  Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.