Back in 2017, we spoke with Mindy Rhodes, a West Bradford activist who was speaking out against Toll Brothers’ purchase of the over 300 acres that make up Crebilly Farm, a historic Chester County landmark. She founded Crebilly Farm Friends and worked tirelessly to preserve the property. Five years later, her hard work has come to fruition.
On November 8, township voters took to the polls to make their voices known on a number of pressing issues surrounding the election this year, Crebilly Farm being one of them. An overwhelming 66 percent of voters opted to conserve the land as a passive recreation park.
Rhodes was doubtful that she would ever see this day, telling Main Line Today back in 2017, “I’m not naïve to think we’ll stop it, but we’re not going to make it easy for [Toll Brothers].” Today, she has a much different perspective.
“The preservation of Crebilly Farm and all her magnificent splendor would not have happened without willing landowners and the residents of Westtown Township,” she says. “They chose preservation. Though I am honored to have played a very small role in a much larger picture, they are the reason this miracle has happened.”
“To say we are thrilled is an understatement,” Natural Lands President Oliver Bass told the media. “For years, grassroots groups have been vocal about the importance of preserving this beautiful and ecologically important property.”
The vote is an important step in protecting almost all of the farm’s acreage. Thanks to the voters’ profuse “Yes,” the township is set to purchase 206 acres. Lead by Bass, Natural Lands is now tasked with securing the remaining grounds.
Proven by the election results, Crebilly Farm has been an important fixture of Chester County for many years. Rhodes recalls riding her horse through the farm as a young girl. For many others, the farm signifies “home,” especially to those who have moved out of the state.
With its close proximity to Brandywine Battlefield, the parcel is expected to have served as a significant backdrop during the Revolutionary War. Over 200 years later, Toll Brothers attempted to commence a 317-home building project on the historic land, which was quickly met with local resistance from Rhodes and other residents. Since, the plans have been abandoned, and the grounds will now be protected thanks to voters and organizations like Rhodes’ Crebilly Farm Friends.
When Rhodes first formed Crebilly Farm Friends, she wasn’t sure anything would come from it. Morally, she felt obligated to protect something that meant so much to her as well as the community, hoping that 10 years down the road she would know she did what she could to prevent what she believed to be a “disaster.” In just half that time, she can breathe a sigh of relief and know her diligence paid off.
“I am forever grateful,” she says.
Related: The Battle for Crebilly Farm