Meet Our Farmer
Karen Vollmecke is owner, farmer and the driving force behind Vollmecke Orchards & CSA. After graduation from the Longwood Gardens Professional Gardener Training Program, she worked in the horticultural industry until taking up farming full-time in 1989. Karen has over 30 years of growing experience! Her love of the land, nature, and all growing things is evident in the produce she raises. She has a passion for raising excellent food and connecting people to their food source. No surprise – she likes to cook too.
Karen is a former board member of the Chester County Extension, Chester County Agricultural Development Council, and has served on various West Brandywine Township committees. She is a current member of the PA Vegetable Growers Association, the PA State Horticultural Society and the PA Sustainable Agriculture Association (PASA). She has served as the President of the Chester/Delaware County Fruit Growers Association. In 2006, Karen was recognized as Farmer of the Year by the Chester County Board of Commissioners.
This area of Chester County was originally inhabited by the Delaware Band of native Americans. Even now we still find the occasional arrowhead on the farm property (especially while hoeing after a rain!)
The farmhouse is believed to date to the mid 1840s. Back in those days the farm was more than 100 acres and supported a dairy. Now no longer part of the farm, the old dairy barn is just opposite the entrance to Vollmecke Orchards & CSA.
The folks that farmed the property prior to the Vollmeckes grew acres of Pick Your Own strawberries, pumpkins, leafy greens and asparagus, as well as kept some cows and sheep. They also planted the original apple orchard. The irrigation pond and planting terraces were added for erosion control back in the mid-1970s.
The Vollmeckes purchased 37 acres of the original farm in 1984. Jan and Albert looked forward to working and retiring to the farm. Two of their children had horticultural backgrounds and were going to do the actual farming. Unfortunately, Albert passed away in 1989, and after some evaluation, their son decided to leave to start his own business. Jan passed away in 2017. Their daughter Karen continues farming the property.
In the early years, they continued raising the conventionally grown crops that had been planted previously. After years of growing this way, they started noticing that the plants required more and more chemical sprays to keep them free of disease and insect issues. The soil did not appear as healthy as they wished either. They started reading about organic farming practices and began composting. The plant and soil life responded favorably to the addition of compost. Encouraged, they continued to pursue growing with these and other organic methods. They started planting more and more diverse crops, and quickly realized that all of these new crops required a different approach to marketing. They had spent years marketing to other roadside stands, grocery stores, restaurants, producer-only markets, and from their “sales porch”. Now it was essential to find people who were interested in buying and eating produce grown following organic principles. The CSA model of agriculture seemed an ideal fit, so in 1998, Vollmecke Orchards & CSA was born. This is their 22nd year of Community Supported Agriculture.
The retail farm store continues to expand with Vollmecke “farm grown” fruits and vegetables, as well as other products from local producers, such as honey and pastured meats.
If you haven’t been lately, the Vollmeckes invite you to come to visit and see what local is all about.