About the Farm and Philosophy

Millhafen Farm, Bucks County is located at 3145 State Road, Telford, PA. This historic farmstead is the site of the old Derstine Sawmill and the Craftwork Training Center. A Water-Powered Sawmill, which was destroyed by fire and replaced three times at this location, operated continuously for over 150 years. Many trials and triumphs were part of the Derstine story and this farmstead. The mill had previously acted as a gristmill from time to time while the saws also turned. The farm and its sawmill are historically significant because it was from this place that much of the lumber that developed the entire immediate region came from this place. The property which was used for milling operations historically was in a sense a trade center and is appropriately being adaptively re-used for the trades. This is especially true for the trades that support historic preservation and sustainable building along with the tool and material sales required to carry out all these trades. This adaptive re-use is being done with the help of LimeWorks.us, a specialty supply company for sustainable masonry concerns. All the businesses that will be located at the farmstead are ones that promote the conservation of historical, cultural, and natural resources. These generalized themes are all ones that are tangibly supported by the various vocational crafts and traditional trades and education that will go on at the Craftwork Training Center located at Millhafen Farm.

LimeWorks.us has scheduled training workshops at the Craftwork Training Center to lead the way in architectural restoration and preservation training in masonry. Workshops are held all throughout the year. LimeWorks.us workshops cover the information needed to install their product line properly. Other training programs are also planned to be held at the Craftwork Training Center for various other associated vocational crafts. All of the vocational crafts taught are disciplines that people can hopefully go out and make a living with because creating and encouraging Artisans is the Objective of the Craftwork Training Center.

It happens that Millhafen Farm, Bucks County has a wholesome farmstead atmosphere where people can contemplate and even be encouraged to engage in discussions about history, politics and religion if the topics naturally come up among peers. These types of discussions which are often considered safer brushed aside, are in the honesty of the depth of history found at Millhafen Farm, alternately bolstered and encouraged to go on. The purpose to encourage discussion in these topics is because these types of discussions may lead to an element that gets translated into the art which individuals produce. Sharing ideas get creative juices flowing and can open the minds of all who participate to understand varying dispositions that could potentially broaden each individual’s own art. Historically, things like the carving of stone grotesques which were installed into a cathedrals of the past, or creating murals in wet plaster that also contained expressions of the artisan and meant to convey their real feelings or world view either for or against the status quo of cultural beliefs were a norm in ages past. So, discussions about life as it exists now and in contrast to life in the past may only help unlock understanding about the meaning behind the work of artisans from the past if their work were studied and mirrored when attempting to create replacement pieces for restoration campaigns or in making new art that possesses individual passion and expressiveness.

At Millhafen Farm, Bucks County it is hoped that there will be future archeological digs that bring forth items to discuss. These findings at this farm or later at other places may encourage our participants to understand how to bring context into interpretations that ultimately affect conservation work. Therefore these discussions are foundational to a “best practices” approach in preliminary interpretive study. All interactive discussions over any artifacts found, (especially ones that are craft related), may help in understanding why people throughout history and especially the people who occupied time at this farm, did the things the way they did outside the simple and obvious reason “just to make a living.” Overall, it is for the spirit of hospitality at the farm that every visitor who may arrive, who will come from many different walks of life, can be heard and potentially challenged to contrast their own perspectives, world view and dispositions against what they learn here with and from others. All of this openness may enhance a craft if they take advantage to fully engage. The Craftwork Training Center therefore strives to continue to be a place that fosters the well known “open-mindedness” of artists everywhere and to encourage artists to rise to be the best in their respective craft disciplines by taking advantage of the casualness and easy going environment found at Millhafen Farm, Bucks County.

The historical context of Millhafen Farm, Bucks County was that it was established by a family belonging to the Christian sect known as the “Mennonites.” This farmstead does not have an allegiance to the Mennonite faith or the teachings of Jacob Menno whose name the Mennonite faith was borne from. However, since this was the faith of the family who originally settled the farm and who lived there for 7 generations, The Derstines, from ca1736, The Christian faith and especially its New Testament teachings are honored. If individuals come to the farm and interpret and carry out what that means to them as they understand it, this of course is welcomed along with any positive and wholesome attitude that supports the easy going environment of the farm if it is not specifically branded as “Christianity” but is generally sympathetic to non-violence and support of others.

In the modern world having a spiritual faith or even just an optimistic outlook in life can be considered trite. This farmstead, however, is dedicated to be a place for encouraging the hopeful possibilities found in discovering and improving on one’s own art which could be further enhanced by openness, tolerance and camaraderie shared in discussions about philosophies and faith. These attributes were historically supported from the very beginning when William Penn attempted his “Holy Experiment”, as he called it, to have openness to varying religious orders within Pennsylvania. Being a Christian is not a pre-requisite to coming to or working at Millhafen Farm, Bucks County or participating in any way at the Craftwork Training Center. However, the idea of a higher guiding power and/or an Intelligent Designer is simply a welcomed concept because crafts practiced and taught often require higher guided thinking and intelligent design in their effective processes.