About the Agricultural Development Council
Ag Council Mission
The Ag Council raises awareness of the economic impact of the local farming industry and promotes excellence in farming. This outreach assists county farmers market their businesses, helps create an environment to attract new farmers, and informs residents and municipal officials about the importance of local agriculture. We also partner with other organizations to address agricultural issues.
About the Agricultural Development Council
The Ag Council members are appointed by the County Commissioners to administer programs to educate the general public on the importance of agriculture and encourage the continuation of farming in Chester County.
The Ag Council sponsors several important programs such as: producing the Chester County Farm Product guide; recognizing a Farmer of the Year and recipient for a Distinguished Service to Agricultural award, and the Ag Taskforce.
Ag Council Member Profiles
Christopher Alonzo (Chair), president of Pietro Mushrooms, is a 3rd generation mushroom farmer in Kennett Square. He is a board member of Mushroom Farmers of PA (MFPA) and a frequent speaker at agricultural events. Alonzo is the assistant treasurer of the Jewish Community Center of Wilmington, DE, and has previously served on the boards of the Kennett Square Planning Commission, Mushroom Council and United Way. He and his wife Regina have 2 children. Alonzo joined the Ag Council board in 2008.
Karl Herr (Vice Chair) is a co-owner of Herrvale Farms, a family-run dairy and crop operation in Oxford, PA, and is Chair of the Upper Oxford Planning Commission. He is also a deacon at Beulah Baptist Church. Herr previously served as a Farm Bureau vice president and government regional director. He was also a County Extension board member and auditor, in addition to holding a host of other leadership positions with related agricultural organizations in his community. Herr joined the Ag Council board in 2008.
Duncan Allison (Former Chair) is the past president of The Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture (PSPA), media relations director for Chester-Delaware Farm Bureau. Allison has also served as the board president of the Brandywine Valley Association. Previously, Allison worked in global product development, planning, and marketing for DuPont and traveled throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa in those roles. Allison joined the Ag Council board in 2003.
Deirdre Flemming is co-owner of Two Gander Farm, which is a 10 acre certified organic produce operation in Downingtown. The farm is located within a 262-acre-preserve that is owned by The Brandywine Conservancy. She and her husband Trey manage a 130-member CSA, supply area restaurants and retail stores, and have 10 years’ experience with direct to consumer sales through farmers markets in the Philadelphia area. Flemming joined the Ag Council board in 2017.
Jodi Gauker is the Executive Director at Lundale Farm, Inc. in Pottstown, and co-owner of Gauker Farms, a 260-acre-farm in Berks County, where she and her family raise crops and dairy steers. She also serves as the Agriculture Project Consultant at Chester County Economic Development Council, and is a member of the Berks County Planning Commission, Berks County Farm Bureau, Berks Agricultural Resource Network, and Chester Delaware County Farm Bureau. Previously, Gauker was an Extension Educator for Penn State Extension. Gauker joined the Ag Council board in 2013.
David Longenecker is a cofounder and auctioneer at the Oxford Produce Auction, a wholesale produce auction located Oxford, PA. Longenecker is also a co-owner and auctioneer for Petersheim & Longenecker Auction Co. and a Realtor for Hostetter Realty specializing in rural and agricultural properties. Longenecker joined the Ag Council board in 2013.
Adam Mowery is the Managing Member of Mowery Environmental, LLC, an environmental consulting company that works primarily with the agricultural industry. Prior to founding his business in 2015, Mowery worked for the Chester County Conservation District for 7 ½ years where he helped producers implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) to protect soil and water quality. Mowery is a frequent contributor of articles to the Mushroom News, a publication distributed by the American Mushroom Institute (AMI). He and his wife have 1 young son. Mowery joined the Ag Council board in 2017.
Anthony Vietri is the owner of Va La Vineyards, a small, family-run operation in Avondale that specializes in growing rare and unusual northern Italian grape varieties that are made into unique wine blends. The farm has been named one of the “Top 100 Wineries in America” for the past three years by The Daily Meal. He and his wife Karen were Farmer of the Year award recipients in 2009. Vietri joined the Ag Council board in 2017.
William Wells Jr. is the founder of Water Crest Farms Nursery, formerly known as W.D. Wells and Associates, a family-run 100-acre nursery in West Grove that specializes in American hollies and other specimen plants for the trade as well as retail customers. Wells is a former Pocopson township supervisor and former president of Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association. He also served as president and member of the Executive Committee of the Horticultural Research Institute. Wells joined the Ag Council board in 2010.
Larry Welsch is the Executive Director of the Chester County Food Bank which serves over 50,000 food insecure families in Chester County, PA. He is also Treasurer of Hunger Free Pennsylvania, a non-profit organization of Pennsylvania Food Banks dedicated to ending hunger in Pennsylvania. Welsch joined the Ag Council board in 2013.
Gary Westlake is the owner of Westlake Tree Farms, LLC with farms in the north and western parts of the county totaling 280 acres over three townships. He is a 3rd generation Christmas tree grower and nurseryman, a Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturalist (PCH) and past president of the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Grower's Association (PCTGA). Gary holds the patent for the "Tree Limo", a harvested tree handling device used widely throughout the Christmas tree industry. He has been active in the Boy Scouts of America all his life and served in many capacities, he and his four sons are all Eagle scouts. He is married to his wife, Diann, for 32 years and he enjoys hiking, camping, and being outside. Westlake joined the Ag Council board in 2017.