great balls of cheese!

say cheeseWhat got my eyes rolling this morning?  This:

Jan 13, 2014 07:42 AM

The Main Course

Cheese Ball Comes to Philly to Benefit Birchrun Hills Farm

Those with an affection for all things fromage will be delighted to hear that, with the help of author and Wisconsin native Tenaya Darlington, a grand dairy affair will unfold Sat., Jan. 18, 7:30 p.m.–midnight, at Philadelphia’s Ruba Social Club (414 Green St.).

Darlington, scribe of Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese and blogger of Madame Fromage, has organized the cheese-focused soiree with one incredible mission: to help Birchrunville’s cheesemaker Sue Miller, of Birchrun Hills Farm, raise funds for a future cheese cave. ….the Miller family trucks their milk off their farm to a facility to age their cheese, and with the addition of a farm-based cave, they can eliminate this step and keep the entire operation on the farm.

Admission to the cheesy fete is $10 per person, with all proceeds donated to the Miller family.

I am all for supporting your local farmer, but this is a bit much don’t you think? A benefit in Philadelphia for the Miller family? As in Supervisor Farmer Ken Miller and his bride Sue the Cheese Lady? Of West Vincent Township?

What is it kids say? For realz?

The Miller family is not my favorite charity and they shouldn’t be a charity at all, should they? I think this whole thing is terribly classless and tacky. They don’t have some dread disease and need medical bills covered.  They haven’t had a devastating disaster hit their farm.  They just seem to enjoy the benefits of OPM. Other People’s Money.

They have lived off the fatted calf a long time, eh? I know farming is hard work but where else could you farm on taxpayer owned township farm land and have all the perks of being a supervisor and what do they call it, roadmaster? West Vincent is intriguing to say the least at all times….

I am sorry but I think Madame Fromage is off her rocker!   Apologies to Madame Formage, but even if you don’t know and/or appreciate the shenanigans in West Vincent Township, for what Sue Miller charges for that cheese (which honestly I still don’t know why people rave about it, it really is not exceptional in any way), wow you would think they would be able to do their own farm renovations and additions right? Or be able to go to a bank and get a loan? Or apply for some organic farming grant? But wait, they really aren’t organic are they?

I am sorry but this to me is just so wrong.  I know a few farmers and cheesemakers here in Chester County and elsewhere, and wow I never heard of any of them throwing themselves in essence a beef and beer (oopsies wine and cheese) to get other people to pay for them have you? Sorry but wow, no thank you.

And my dislike for Birchrun Hills Farm precedes anything I became aware of in West Vincent and the odd way those folks practice politics and treat neighbors. My dislike for that farm began the first season of Bryn Mawr Farmers Market.  One of my friends founded it and when it opened I was so excited to have a market close to my then home.  I wanted to support as many farmers as possible. 

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I remember distinctly trying to ask Sue Miller  and whomever was with her about their cheeses (as I was hello forking over my money to buy some) and they could not have been any more unpleasant.  I decided at that time that if they couldn’t take a minute for customers that this was in effect a small business I wasn’t going to patronize. And I appreciate finely made cheeses and truthfully, theirs was nothing special. And it was over-priced.

As am amusing side note, I happened to see Supervisor Farmer Miller at the fabulous event the Historic Birchrunville Neighbors Association had at the Birchrunville Store Café last evening.  If he is so counting his pennies, I wonder did he buy his own ticket or did someone treat him?  We were not introduced, so all I did was observe his strategic placement of self in front of the bar for the majority of the event. 

I did make the acquaintance of David Brown former Gladwynite turned supervisor.  Poor man seemed surprised to meet me at a genteel event such as this, but at least he was polite and obviously knows how to behave in public.  Can’t say the same for certain cheese ladies….maybe that is why she wasn’t by her hubby’s side last night?  But if I were a politician I would have wanted to go too last evening.  This group is not only great company, but they are doing terrific things and are a force to be reckoned with.  (And may I say again it was the loveliest of evenings? The village of Birchrunville was lit up luminairies and the Birchrunville Store Café is just a marvel it is so wonderful.  And I love their chicken windows on the porch, naturally.

If you have fallen and hit your head and want to put more money in Ken and Sue Miller’s pockets, by all means, attend.  As for me, I will simply continue to patronize the many other fine cheese makers in Chester County who are simply content when you like their cheese and buy it. If you go I wouldn’t think your ticket is a real donation, unless of course Ken and Sue Miller have morphed themselves into some sort of non-profit. 

By all means, support your local farmer.  But please, support the ones who are deserving. Not the ones who are shameless. 

Cheese Ball II: A Cave Raising

Posted by on Sunday, December 29, 2013

Maybe you remember Cheese Ball 2012? …..But believe me, I haven’t forgotten the fun we had or the mix of guests dressed in everything from tuxedos and ball gowns, to overalls and even capes…. Anyone who loves cheese is welcome at the Cheese Ball…..All you have to do is bring a cheese to share and $10 — the money will be donated to local cheesemaker, Sue Miller, to help her build a cheese cave (more details below) at Birchrun Hills Farm….I’m calling on the Philadelphia cheese community to help raise a cheese cave for one of our own. Many of you know Sue Miller, of Birchrun Hills Farm…Sue and her family are life-long dairy farmers in Chester County, Pa. They started farming because they love animals, and they began making cheese in order to keep farming once milk prices dropped. Now they truck milk to a small off-site facility several times a week and age their cheese in a cave the size of a closet. In order to expand their business with their two grown sons, the Millers need to build. Financing a major building project when you’re self-employed is difficult. In 2014, Sue Miller plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign. I want to kick it into gear.

 

I am sorry but this isn’t my kind of wine and cheese event. And I think Madame Fromage could have found those more worthy.  Truthfully, if it wasn’t the Millers as beneficiaries it might be fun.  But with all the water under that bridge, I can’t just paddle across. But hey you never know….maybe she is onto something…..

Sign me, cheez whiz on this

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a – farmers’- marketing- we – will go!

AnselmaAfternoon-2Just got back from East Goshen Farmers’ Market and it was packed and FABULOUS today.  I have some beautiful produce and I bought a gorgeous Cinquefoil a/k/a Potentilla from Brogue Hydroponics.

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But let us move on to other markets.  Namely the hop scotching farmers’ market.  You know, first it was at Anselma Mill (where it did so wonderfully well), then like magic it was going to move to West Vincent, only it wouldn’t really be in West Vincent, it would be in Upper Uwchlan. And then there was drama because nothing with West Vincent in the name can ever go smoothly or without drama.

waaah 1Mind you the drama and issues were self-induced and I feel no pity to anyone but the poor farmers and food purveyors and residents they had so confused. Why do I say that? Simple: if the West Vincent Farmers Market had waaah 2done things the right way, versus the West Vincent way there might actually be a farmers market in West Vincent now.  D’oh.

So when the West Vincent Farmers Market Page did the heavy sigh and the itty bitty violins of pity came out today, come on now people you did it to yourselves.

AnselmaAfternoon-13I am glad the market is back where it belongs at Anselma Mill which is a REALLY cool place if you have never been.

Enjoy the photos.  Little birdies took them for me. Not chickens, but birdies……Also noticed no Birchrunville Hills Farms Taste Our Feet at Anselma?  Didn’t they used to be there?  Also heard they were no longer a producer for the Phoenixville Farmers Market? Is the popularity of those overpriced food stuffs waning?

A final note so I am not farmers market incorrect, the Anselma Market is once again the Anselma Market, right? It is not something goofy like the West Vincent Farmers Market at Anselma, is it?

Anyway, no matter which market you prefer, thanks for getting out and supporting local farmers!

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farmers markets = drama? in west vincent no less?

DSC_0210And I thought the drama surrounding farmers markets in my part of Chester County was enough.

Apparently not…..

Now there is more farmers market drama.  But what did I suspect? Or expect if it involves West Vincent Township? Shall we just call it Miller’s Market to go with the Miller Towers in Miller Township and be done with it?  Why in addition do the names Ann Marie Butera Cantrell and Sam Cantrell of Maysie’s Farm keep cropping up?  Are they the movers and the shakers who are behind the move to West Vincent from Anselma Mill? Is the Anselma Mill Market really moving from Anselma Mill to West Vincent or is the Anselma Market closing and another market opening in West Vincent? Are you able to track this because I am sure having a hard time….

So the drama with this market started when fans of the Anselma Mill’s Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market page on Facebook started seeing posts about that market closing and becoming the West Vincent Farmers Market.

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It has been a veritable who’s on first scenario.  What is it about West Vincent that they can even (apparently) screw up a farmers market?  I love farmers markets and they are an awesome addition to communities but you have to do things properly.

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And what is the craziest thing of all with this farmers market?  How about that the land proposed to be used might actually be in Upper Uwchlan Township?  So if so, has there been a meeting there?

Who is sponsoring this market?  Is it a local municipality?  Is it a non-profit farmers’ cooperative, and if so are they registered as a non-profit? Or is it a for profit business model, and if so who is it and will they be paying the right taxes and fees, etc?  Who will be responsible to the citizens of West Vincent (or Upper Uwchlan) in cleaning up the market? It is a little hinky on parking, so where will people park?

And who the heck ANNOUNCES a market as in signs, Facebook pages and so on and so forth that has not formerly been approved?  I mean what kind of amateur hour romper room antics is this? That just makes people resent something that should equal a pleasant experience, and of course that lends itself to asking again who exactly is doing this market?  And if it is a producers market that means all farmers have to grow what they sell right?

Seems to me there are a lot of questions and that this is something yet again that West Vincent is doing in a slap dash backroom deal kind of way, doesn’t it?  Is there actual permission in tangible form from Upper Uwhclan? And why was the legal notice SO LAST MINUTE?   Does the legal notice mean there is not quite the proper zoning for such an enterprise and if so who announces a farmers market with signs and Facebook pages if they don’t have the zoning in place?

What a shame is what I say.  Farmers Markets are awesome for local economies…but when you don’t do things the right way, can it be said everyone suffers?

Farmers Market drama is so unnecessary.  Sigh…Bravo could add a new series to their reality TV roster: “The Real Farmers Markets of Chester County“….

Here is what Chickenman has to say:

Hi

West Vincent Township has been actively working to bring a Farmer’s Market to the township’s Andrew Evans Park.  Local farmer Sam Cantrell came to a township meeting on March 11, 2013 to request the use of the Township property.

 

http://www.westvincenttwp.org/images/Minutes/BOS%20Minutes%20031113.pdf 

 

This was done under new business, not public comment on non-agenda items but not published on the agenda:

 

http://www.westvincenttwp.org/images/docs/031113%20Agenda.pdf 

 

 

It was further discussed under Public Comment on April 8, 2013:

 

http://www.westvincenttwp.org/images/Minutes/BOS%20Minutes%2004-08-13.pdf

There was a question pertaining to the park property being eased against commercial activity and Clare Quinn stated that there is no easement. It was supposed to be eased as part of the DONATION to the Township, but it was never done. While Clare Quinn answered truthfully, the Township did indeed adopt a resolution AGAINST commercial activity on the property that stands today.

The township eventually elected against using most of the park, but there is just over 2 acres next to Rte 401 that the township purchased from Newt Evans and is allegedly not part of the resolution. The part of the park is actually located in UPPER UWCHLAN TOWNSHIP. There are some improvements that need to be made. In the last couple weeks, a pipe was installed in order to cross a drainage swale. Surveyors have been hustling around the location in the last week. I see signs have been popping up.

 

 

This operation has NOT YET BEEN APPROVED. Who is paying for these improvements? You are. Sustainability is a buzzword in West Vincent Township. Does Sustainability mean that the taxpayer need to underwrite the expenses of the local farmers?

 

Wait! It will be more than Farmers. It may be crafters, also. Here is the Farmer’s Market Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WestVincentFarmersMarket  this operation is required to be approved by the township of Upper Uwchlan and according to the video, a permit was issued (according to Ken Miller), against the zoning of Upper Uwchlan Township. Is Upper Uwchlan is starting to become like West Vincent by ignoring their laws? Did they really issue a permit? Here is the pertinent section of the West Vincent Township meeting about the Farmer’s Market:

Pt 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRByEhLGzVU&feature=youtu.be

Pt 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD5nx8BAWZM&feature=youtu.be

I urge everyone to watch these videos.  In Part 1, resident Frances Ellis points out that the use does not meet the criteria set forth in Upper Uwchlan zoning. In Part 2, Ken Miller is anxious to vote on this issue. The issue is discussed as if it has already been approved. Ken Miller becomes very upset when counsel advises against voting on the Farmer’s Market. It sure seems like this is a done deal, in the face of questioning that this clearly does not meet Upper Uwchlan Zoning.

What is the rush? Ken Miller needs a new outlet for his goods? This is his chance to move into a Farmer’s Market at no or little cost, at least to him. There will be plenty of cost to the township taxpayer as this moves forward. I am not against a Farmer’s Market, I think they are great. But it has to be a legal operation. Pearl’s Farm Market was shut down years ago because it’s location on Rte. 100 at Horseshoe Trail did not meet zoning.

 

Additionally,  why does the government (the taxpayer) have to finance someone else’s business? Rent the property, cover the expenses for ALL the improvements and costs. I have not seen any township video discussing how the township expenses are going to be covered. Better yet, do it on private property, where the rental income can be taxed, which supports the government operations.

There is a special township meeting currently advertised for Monday night, June 3 at 8:00 pm, (see attached), to vote on the Farmer’s Market. If you want to find out what the meeting is about, or just wish to be aware of what’s happening, you should attend.  But I bet I know how it will turn out.
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Best wishes

Chickenman