the strange tale of wildflower farm: in willistown when is a farm not ok to be a farm?

I took this photo recently at Life’s Patina where Wildflower Farm was part of an event there. I was super impressed by them and their flowers.

This is a strange tale of really surprisingly unpleasant and in my opinion oddly not neighborly folks. That being said, since they seem to be the litigious types, nothing here is not either a photo taken on a public road, photos of the farm I am writing about OR public information. Oh and that lovely thing called the First Amendment.

This is the strangest case of bad NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

This is a case of life is short, can’t we (literally) just enjoy the flowers and get along?

So how did I become aware of this? Recently someone said to me, have you seen the local zoning notices lately? And I said nooo….because your eyes can cross and glaze over if you read too many (just kidding but it’s dry stuff.)

Well then blow me over, one was about a local small farm…and most shocking, located in Willistown Township, supposedly the land of happy open space and farm loving people. So dear readers, I think I stumbled upon a case of those who shall we say perhaps move out here for the bucolic vistas and “country”, but oh hell no, put that farm someplace else?

What am I talking about?? THIS:

Yes, I have been having some OMG moments over this. You see, I live in a nice neighborhood with nice neighbors. My friends live in nice neighborhoods with nice neighbors, but Willistown? One of the prettiest place in Chester County and it seems to be plagued by these bizarre occurrences of late? There was that whole thing of ruffled feathers over chickens, and then there was the political candidate who couldn’t seem to behave at a public meeting where she wishes to become queen and reign, and now this? These nice people not only sell their flowers, they believe in farming organically, and educating people. It’s an entire desirable package and a pretty little farm.

So they are talking about Wildflower Farm. As in they grow Wildflowers organically. As in they are this super nice, charming, lovely young couple with two adorable little kids, a golden retriever, etc.?

Yes, completely WTF.

These neighbors in my humble opinion (which I am allowed to have), seem literally hell bent for leather in driving them out of town. And why? And when you read that zoning notice you want to rub your eyes because of a couple of the names that pop right out.

Again, public information sourced from Willistown Conservation Trust website and Willistown Township Website. And if you go into the Willistown Conservation Trust reports of donations, etc., some of the other names pop up.

So explain to me how these champions of community involvement and dare I say it, conservation have problems with an organic FLOWER FARM???

When did everyone get so mean in beautiful Willistown????

But it doesn’t stop with the legalities of a zoning challenge, does it? Nope, nope, nope. How about trespassing? Poison pen letters? Blocking the farm’s driveway so people can’t enter? Flying drones over their property?

OK class can you all say “WTF” now?

Poison Pen Letter Envelope
Did this car break down? Is that why it’s blocking a fellow neighbor’s driveway?

I have seen videos of trespassing. But that is not my tale to tell. But I guarantee you Willistown Township has seen and probably has those videos. Along with the mysterious drone video output, correct?

And speaking of Willistown Township, I feel sorry for the township. I am sure they don’t want this and when did it become the purview of municipalities to have to babysit neighbors with wild hairs up their rears?

This is not quite the haves vs. the have nots, but the haves are a wee bit unbelievable with their let them eat cake, no farms in our back yard NIMBY scenario, correct?

And here is the narrative submitted recently to Willistown by Wildflower Farm:

This is all so very, very ugly. Is this what we as a society have become? Instead of TALKING with our neighbors, people just harass, harangue, and sue our neighbors? And then sometimes people wonder why other people just sell out to developers and walk away?

I just don’t understand how this is happening in Willistown Township. This is one of the most farmer friendly, farm friendly places. Yet these people seem to be (as I said before) hell bent for leather on destroying the lives of the owners of Wildflower Farm?

WHY????? These are NICE people. Thoughtful people. Small farm, organic farmers. You know the future we WANT for Chester County? Farms are disappearing by the day, this is the stuff that makes quality people NOT wish to move into communities, buy farms, preserve land.

These neighbors won’t like my opinions, but they put this out there in the public viewshed like bad Karma waiting to explode, and you know me and my love and respect for farm owners, farmers, and what Chester County used to be about. And I wish they would reconsider their path. This ugliness taints communities. It is so unnecessary. And Willistown? Don’t they need to stand up for small farmers AND large landholders, right?

No drama intended, I fear for this young family at Wildflower Farm.

That being said, what can you do?

(1) Support the farm (here is their website.)

(2) Read up on the ACRE Law because you have to wonder if these residents wish their township to violate that?

(3) Sign and forward their petition.

(4) If you are a resident of Willistown or a fellow local farmer or a customer or just a lover of organic Wildflowers, show up for the Heenan family at the upcoming zoning meeting: Willistown Township Zoning Hearing Board will meet on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, at 7:00 p.m., at Sugartown Elementary School, 611 Sugartown Road, Malvern, Willistown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

That’s it, this is all I have got. I just think this whole scenario is wrong. I am shocked and saddened that these adults have gone all Lord of The Flies, Rambo, whatever on a young family farming the right way and adding positively to the community.

Please pay it forward and politely and calmly support this family, this farm, their business.

#SaveSmallFarms #BeAGoodNeighbor #ShopLocal #SupportSmall #MeanPeopleSuck

why don’t we have more control over our communities? we live here.

Meet Pulte’s  “promotional video” on Linden Hall.

Described as an enclave of “luxury”  town homes, with views of an exclusive golf course anyone has yet to see how storm water runoff will affect and whose memberships are not exactly included with the purchase price of the townhouses. (Yes holy run on sentence Batman but I don’t know how else to say it.)

You see photos of rolling Chester County fields with nature, only there is no nature at Linden Hall. Only a crumbling historic carriage stop and inn that  sits and rots unrestored, even though the original developer (Benson or whomever) who sold Pulte the townhouse land and approvals promised to restore but thus far has not. All that has happened is a version of construction fencing has been erected to surround it. (Maybe with black plastic fabric fencing around it we won’t notice the building rotting, right?)

This video says that this development is 3.5 miles from a Septa Station. I assume they mean Eston which already has parking issues? And you get to that station from congested route 100 right? Or you have to invent a space at Malvern station?

The video proclaims 4 miles from Main Street at Exton and 10 miles from the King of Prussia Mall because God forbid people support local, small businesses, right? 

And my favorite, they tout the Great Valley “School System”.   Of course no one ever talks about the effect a rampant increase in development has on a school district which eventually affects our taxes and our kids, do they? And before all the PTA cheerleaders gather up their pom poms against me, that is NOT a slam at the school district, that is a very grim reality which is inevitable. 

But overall what bothers me the most is here is yet another developer touting our beautiful Chester County they are carving up into plastic houses one acre at a time. The site these townhouses are on once supported quite an ecosystem. Foxes and birds and rabbits and so on. I know the neighbors behind Linden Hall are very unhappy and worried how this development will affect their property values down the line.

The price points are not affordable for those who would need affordable housing. The quality is not so spectacular that the exteriors won’t wear quickly after a few Chester County winters. And the way they describe them, well you don’t realize if you are looking at a development essentially sitting on a highway. No matter what you do to them they are sitting on a major thoroughfare. And it’s not pretty.


Ok this brings me to the impetus behind this post:

The New York Times:  How Anti-Growth Sentiment, Reflected in Zoning Laws, Thwarts Equality

By CONOR DOUGHERTY

JULY 3, 2016


….“The quality of the experience of being in Boulder, part of it has to do with being able to go to this meadow and it isn’t just littered with human beings,” said Steve Pomerance, a former city councilman who moved here from Connecticut in the 1960s….These days, you can find a Steve Pomerance in cities across the country — people who moved somewhere before it exploded and now worry that growth is killing the place they love.

….But a growing body of economic literature suggests that anti-growth sentiment, when multiplied across countless unheralded local development battles, is a major factor in creating a stagnant and less equal American economy….

Zoning restrictions have been around for decades but really took off during the 1960s, when the combination of inner-city race riots and “white flight” from cities led to heavily zoned suburbs…To most people, zoning and land-use regulations might conjure up little more than images of late-night City Council meetings full of gadflies and minutiae. But these laws go a long way toward determining some fundamental aspects of life: what American neighborhoods look like, who gets to live where and what schools their children attend.

And when zoning laws get out of hand, economists say, the damage to the American economy and society can be profound. Studies have shown that laws aimed at things like “maintaining neighborhood character” or limiting how many unrelated people can live together in the same house contribute to racial segregation and deeper class disparities. They also exacerbate inequality by restricting the housing supply in places where demand is greatest.

This article is written by someone who doesn’t get the realities of rampant development. Nor does the author mention the fact that a lot of these developments are built just to build, not because there is an actual need. 

The author of this article of this article also does not get how these developers are actually contributing to what he seemingly despises. As in these developers are actually contributing to racial segregation and deeper class disparities. They are in fact limiting the housing supply by their very price points. How many families of multiple people and kids are going to look at condos for example that are studios and one bedrooms and if not rentals start at mid 500,000s? How many agricultural, factory, or service related workers are going to be able to afford Linden Hall or Atwater or so on or be encouraged to buy there?

And look at all the zoning together. That is developments in progress in one area, regardless of municipality, along with other development in various states of approval. A sleeper to watch for in East Whiteland would be that thing a developer named Farley got approved a while back, remember? A multi acre parcel that is accessed off a property on 352 that looks like a hoarding situation that goes up into woods and would be shoehorned in between Immaculata and the William Henry apartments for lack of a better description? So you have the increasing traffic nightmare on Route 30 by Linden Hall which will only get worse with completion of neighboring projects like off of Frame Ave and Planebrook Rd. Can you imagine adding this 352/Sproul to that? And the effect it will have potentially on King Road? Let alone what one more project so close together would have on the ecosystem of the area AND the school district!

See that is the problem with all these developments, developers, and the factual analysis this New York Times writer Conor Dougherty thinks he has done. The reality is we do NOT live in a bubble. We are connected. Developers envision and present these projects as stand alone things with no real time or effort put into the relationships between projects. It starts when you see the plans presented at a local municipal meeting.

 These projects are depicted all by themselves with nothing around them, or nothing around them realistic to human or other scale. They do traffic studies when no one is around, they don’t really look at what a large uptick in population will do to anything from roads, to hospitals, to school,districts, to the environment. They do not care about us, they just want to build, get their money, and get out. So pardon the hell out of us Conor Dougherty if we want to preserve the character of where we live and do not want our school districts, property values, and our shrinking open space detrimentally affected. And his affordable housing argument doesn’t wash at least around here because they are not building affordable housing. These developers truthfully don’t give a rat’s fanny about actual affordable housing.  None of this is about actually helping others, it’s about lining their pockets at the expense of many communities.

Chester County is at risk. I am not sure why Chester County even has a county planning department because everything getting built is about the dollars developers get from density. Our open space and communities and agricultural heritage are seriously at risk. That doesn’t anyone make sny person saying that some kind of NIMBY ….it is the truth. Why is it that the rights of those who already live in an area seem so less important than what politicians  and developers want?  Look at Embreyville and Bryn Coed – what happens to those areas if development gets approved for maximum capacity? Embreyville is already in play, and Bryn Coed is only a matter of time, right?

Community preservation and open space preservation aren’t dirty words. They should be our  right as residents of this beautiful county we call home.

Happy July 4th. Our forefathers fought for our freedoms and apparently we are still fighting for our rights.

Thanks for stopping by.