As the sun began to set on Ramsey’s Farm on Saturday, March 4, the organizers of the bonfire for Beaver Valley gathered atop the hill and worried as the thermometer began its descent to a low of 20 degrees in Wilmington and 16 degrees in Chadds Ford with a stiff wind from the west. Promptly at 5:00 p.m., however, a steady stream of cars began turning into the Ramsey’s Farm Lane and ascending the hill. By the end of the evening 420 supporters came out, not counting children under six who were free and numerous, raising over $10,000 to save Beaver Valley from development.
“Those who want to save Beaver Valley are nothing if not passionate and numerous,” said Jason Hoover, one of the founders of Save the Valley. “With the contributions received at the bonfire, we have now received contributions from over 900 individuals in the first seven weeks of our campaign putting us within sight of our first goal of 1,000 contributors,” Hoover continued. “They’ve been through a lot,” he added; “cold and wind won’t stop them.”
The bonfire was held at Ramsey’s Farm, 500 Ramsey Road, Wilmington, Delaware. It is one of a number of events scheduled to help in the fundraising efforts, led by the Brandywine Conservancy, to purchase 240 acres of Beaver Valley land that lies in Concord Township along the northeast border of the National Historical Park. To date almost $2.5m has been raised toward the $8m goal to complete the purchase later this spring. This includes close to $100,000 in direct donations from over 500 members of the community. Significant discussions with key donors are in progress to help meet the total goal. In addition to the Brandywine Conservancy, Mt. Cuba Center, Concord Township, The Conservation Fund, and Delaware County, PA, are among the institutions supporting the effort.
Another bonfire event, which will include hayrides, is being planned for the spring at Ramsey's Farm. Further details to be announced in the coming weeks. The sponsors promise warmer weather. As Hoover put it, “if you survived the winter version, you'll thrive on the spring one!”