Pop-up gala joins fight to save orchard

As the area’s open space continues to shrink and conservancies fight an uphill battle, a Pennsbury Township resident is offering an assist.

The preservation of Barnard's Orchard will benefit from Brandywine in White on Saturday, Aug. 27.

The preservation of Barnard's Orchard in Newlin Township will benefit from Brandywine in White on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Vince Moro said he has been distressed by recent headlines showing that development is continuing to swallow up open space in the area. For example, Toll Brothers not only plans to put 91 homes on the 86-acre Tigue tract off Route 52 in East Bradford Township, but it also envisions more than 300 on the Crebilly property at Routes 202 and 926 in Westtown Township.

So when Moro heard that The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County was working with the Barnard family to place an agricultural conservation easement on its beloved orchard in Newlin Township, the project seemed like a perfect match for Brandywine in White, an elegant, pop-up gala that raises funds for area nonprofits and will be held on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Gwen Lacy, TLC’s executive director, said the conservancy needs to raise the remaining $27,000 of the project’s $901,000 cost before the fall to qualify for matching grants. She said if the conservancy reaches its goal, Barnard's Orchard and “its 74 beautiful and productive acres” would be saved permanently from development.

Gwen Lacey, executive director of The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, says she has received extensive feedback from area residents about the importance of preserving Barnard's Orchard.

Gwen Lacey, executive director of The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, says she has received extensive feedback from area residents about the importance of preserving Barnard's Orchard.

Lacy said the conservancy has received numerous calls and messages from area residents about their fond memories of the orchard, from picking apples and pumpkins to visiting on school tours.

“It restores our faith to see the impact this fourth-generation, family-owned orchard, circa 1862, has had on the community, and we are so grateful to work with the family to ensure that it remains in active agriculture for generation to come,” Lacy said.  “Barnard’s Orchards humbly represents the stalwart agricultural spirit of this area, and we are privileged to play a part in conserving it.

Moro, who’s organizing the Brandywine in White fundraiser with his girlfriend Elizabeth Roche, said he hoped a great turnout for would help close the funding gap. “We’re really excited to do this,” he said, crediting Roche with the idea to make the orchard project the event's beneficiary.

He said the Brandywine in White concept received its inspiration from French En Blanc dinners, which involve a gourmet meal in elegant surroundings with a like-minded crowd interested in benefiting nonprofits. He said tried to attend a Philadelphia version of the event – Diner en Blanc – several years ago, and it was sold out.

With encouragement from friends, Moro decided to create his own. And once the format was perfected, it spawned sister events, such as Brandywine in Black and Rehoboth in White.

For Brandywine in White, guests dress in white, pack elaborate picnic hampers and table settings – including anything needed to create chic white ambiance – and head to a mystery location that is disclosed a few days before the event. Tables and chairs are provided.

Guests enjoy the 2015 Brandywine in White event.

Guests enjoy the 2015 Brandywine in White event.

The only destination hint that Moro provides is that the venue won’t necessitate a long drive. Previous locations have included Chadds Peak Farm in Pennsbury Township and Rockford Park in Wilmington.

Past events have supported Friends of Wilmington Parks with a $2,000 donation and the Brandywine River Museum of Art’s Young Friends of the Brandywine program, which received a $4,000 check.

Brandywine in White, which will boast an apple theme this year, will take place rain or shine on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. The location will be disclosed by email to ticket-holders at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25, about 48 hours before the event begins.

Guests can make arrangements to be seated at a community table or plan a table for two, four, six, or eight friends, family or co-workers, Moro said. The evening will include music, dancing, and a prize for the best decorated table.

Tickets are $30 per person, with discounts for tables of eight. For ticket information, click here.

A prize is given to the best decorated table at Brandywine in White, a pop-up gala that benefits area nonprofits.

A prize is given to the best decorated table at Brandywine in White, a pop-up gala that benefits area nonprofits.

Moro said guests could also make a monetary contribution to TLC; however, because Brandywine in White is a community group that supports nonprofits, it cannot accept donations. He said postage-paid envelopes would be provided so that guests could mail checks designated for support of the orchard project to TLC. A limited number of sponsorship opportunities are also available with great benefits for a business, Moro said. To learn more, email info@brandywineinwhite.org.

In an effort to raise more funds as well as enhance the festive atmosphere of the event, Roche said Chinese lanterns would be sold for $20 each and floating candles for $10. “Yes, the venue will have some sort of water feature,” said Moro.

To learn more about The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, visit http://tlcforscc.org. More information about Brandywine in White, including suggestions for attire and food, can be found at https://www.facebook.com/BrandywineinWhite/?fref=nf.

 

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