Fox Chase Farm: the Northeast’s well-kept secret

The pastures roll down the side of Mount Stanley, where on most days, you will see cows grazing along the fence line. Trees line the long driveway to the barn and homestead that traces its history to 1683 and a land grant from William Penn. An active 4-H club meets weekly, caring for pigs, sheep and cows. Schools bus in students to learn about rural life on a farm and more than 18,000 people a year visit.

It is not Lancaster County, Upper Bucks County or Chester County.  The farm, Fox Chase Farm , is the only working farm in the City of Philadelphia. Located at 8500 Pine Rd., the farm is managed by the Philadelphia School District and The Fairmount Park Commission as a working educational farm with support from an active community organization, Friends of Fox Chase Farm.

The farm has endured challenges to its existence to include barn fires and, most dangerously, it fell into the hands of developers between 1876 and 1901 and again between 1969 and 1975. The developers failed and the farm lived on when in 1975, the City of Philadelphia purchased 30.5 acres of land. An additional 50 acres were purchased by Philadelphia,  21.6 acres by Abington Township and 10 acres by Montgomery County with the aid of Federal funds in 1980.

Lord Stanley received a land grant from William Penn and humbly named the site Mount Stanley. The property was passed on to the McVeigh family who homesteaded on the property for 200 years, followed by the Wistar family. The farm served  as  an intuitional farm operated by Friends Asylum and prior to the purchase by the City of Philadelphia was briefly a gentlemen’s farm owned by Charles Lorimer, publisher of the Saturday Evening Post and Harold Butler.

The farm stands today as a tribute to citizen activists who fought to preserve the farm and the failure of developers who desired to bulldoze the farm. That spirit of activism lives on today in the vibrant organization, The Friends of Fox Chase Farm.

As an educational farm, Fox Chase Farm is not generally open to the public. The farm opens occasionally during the year for public visits. If you ever get that hankering to shear some sheep, purchase farm-fresh vegetables and plants, watch a live farm show, make your own apple cider or just enjoy a hayride check out the farms  events page. Local artists and photographers can be found daily at the farm.  There are great views of the farm along Pine Road and if you are up to it, a hike through Montgomery County’s Lorimer Park provides a nice climb up Mount Stanley and scenic views of the farm from the top. That’s right folks, right here in Northeast Philadelphia you can learn about life down on the farm!

 

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