Clover 🍀 Market is open for their extra special totally fabulous holiday market this weekend December 2 & 3 from 10 AM – 4 PM on the campus of The Westtown School. They have the entire athletic center. There are over 100 curated vendors. It’s so much fun!
It’s free entrance and free parking and the setting is just spectacular if you have never been to the Westtown School!
We went to the preview this morning, and the place was filling up as we were leaving. And it was totally worth it going to the preview and we will totally do that again!
I hope you go and find yourself something spectacular to give us a gift for Christmas or a little something for yourself!
I will note that I did not get anything for writing this post. I am an avid Clover Market fan and was an early Clover Market supporter.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
“I have been coming here for 30 years” said the nice man yesterday who was taking photos of the farmhouse and remaining sunflowers like me. I think Pete Flynn AKA the Pete of Pete’s has been doing his thing for about 35 years. People tell me before he was a farmer with his namesake store, he was a truck farmer.
Yup. We all have been. Now granted for me, when I first discovered Pete’s I was a Main Liner, so I didn’t get out there often, but when I did, it was magical.
Going to Pete’s has always been magical. Decent prices, friendly people, plants, tradition….community.
But the magic is ending, and the auction signs have gone up and I am just sad.
Pete Flynn has been a beacon of hope in an area being swallowed up by development and pipelines. He deserves to retire, he has worked hard. What is sad is there is no one to take up the mantle after him. Now there will be no farm attached to Westtown School, just like there is no farm attached to Church Farm School. I hope the land is not eventually developed, but I don’t hold out much hope. No one wants to farm much any longer, and those who do have had land prices and taxes driven up by wanton development. That and government doesn’t adequately support farmers on any level.
I do not know how long his website will remain, so I am sharing it now. I hope he keeps it up. I really wish this wonderful place wasn’t leaving us. Farms and farmers deserve a better deal.
Thanks for the memories and great produce, Pete. Thanks for doing something that matters.