By MICHAEL P. RELLAHAN
WEST CHESTER – The three people chosen as this year’s “Farmers of the Year” in Chester County could easily all pass as poster personalities for the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” movement.
One recipient, Peter Flynn, is the owner and operator of Pete’s Produce market in Westtown, where 50 percent of everything he sells, from corn on the cob to pasta sauce, is self-grown or produced.
The others, veterinarian Drs. Thomas and Barbara Schaer of London Britain, operate a sheep farm and apiary outside Landenberg, where they practice innovative sustainable farming methods and sell the sheep’s cheese, wool and honey their farm produces at a family farm stand.
“It is a really, really phenomenal operation,” said Hillary Krummrich, the county’s Agricultural Development Council director, who introduced the winners to the county commissioners on Dec. 11.
“It was impossible to pick just one winner,” she said.
Discussing Flynn’s operation, Krummrich said he had made the most of the 170 acres of land he leased from Westtown School on Route 926 south of West Chester.
“The effort to sell products that are grown or made at the market is a tremendous feat,” she said.
“The variety of goods is incredible there,” she said. “Pete is not only a tremendous person, but it is a tremendous operation.”
Flynn, according to a release on the awards, is very concerned with conservation practices and constantly looks for ways to innovate either in the fields or in the market. He serves on the executive board of the Chester County Food Bank, dedicating four acres of his farm to food bank contributions, and is one of the original farmers involved in the Chester County Gleaning program.
The Schaers, who own Meadowset Farm and Apiary in Landenberg and practice veterinary medicine at New Bolton Medical Center, run a 30-acre farm that is more than 250 years old, Krummrich said. It is one of only a few sheep dairies in the county, with the couple “committed to sustainable farming practices.”
All three winners thanked the commissioners and the development council for the recognition.
The “Distinguished Agricultural Service” award went to Daniel Miller, current president of Chester Delaware Farm Bureau and Chesapeake Bay Resource Conservationist with the Chester County Conservation District. In addition to his role as president of the Farm Bureau and as an employee with the Conservation District, Dan is involved with many initiatives and organizations that promote agriculture in Chester County.
The Chester County Farmer of the Year Award is presented to deserving individuals or families that exemplify outstanding farm practices, that have an innovative operation and keen business sense, and that run a well-maintained farm, a news release stated.
The Distinguished Agricultural Service award goes to an individual who has made significant contributions to, and provided exceptional service for the Chester County agricultural community.
The Chester County Agricultural Development Council promotes agriculture in Chester County by raising awareness on issues regarding the viability of local agricultural and promoting agricultural excellence and farming. For more information visit the website at www.chesco.org/agriculture.