D - The Setting

New Garden Township is located in southeastern Chester County, and is approximately 10,330 acres, or 16.1 square miles, in size. Its southern boundary is the arcing boundary with Delaware. To the east is Kennett Township and on the north are East and West Marlborough Townships. London Grove, Franklin, and London Britain Townships are on the west side, with the borough of Avondale imbedded in the New Garden/London Grove border.

Pre-settlement vegetation consisted almost entirely of deciduous forest punctuated by natural disturbances and burning and clearing by Native Americans. European settlers quickly and thoroughly cleared the once-vast forest for farmland, pasture, and timber, and agriculture became the mainstay of the local economy, with larger streams all dammed to power mills. Old millraces and foundations, old quarries, numerous water-filled former clay pits, and abandoned railroad beds and cuts, especially in the Landenberg area, remain as evidence of earlier industrial activity. A survivor of that era, an active stone quarry, continues to chip away at the south face of Toughkenamon Hill northeast of Avondale. Although marginal farmland generally declined after the Civil War, agriculture continued to dominate the local landscape. Around the turn of the last century the mushroom industry arrived and began consuming land for mushroom houses and hay fields. The New Garden Airport and the Route 1 bypass altered the landscape in the northern end of the Township in the 1960s. In the past several decades the conversion of farmland and some of the remaining woodlands to residential and commercial development began, then accelerated, creating a shrinking patchwork of ’unused‘ natural habitats surrounded by farmland, mushroom houses, and large chunks of highly managed landscapes and commercial properties. All in all, these landscape alterations facilitated accelerating increases in the number of non-native, or alien, plant species. 

Today, New Garden‘s habitats are further fragmented by a busy highway network. Route 41, or the Gap-Newport Pike, cuts through the middle of the Township and serves both as a major link between Wilmington and Lancaster and as access to commercial/industrial land uses fronting on Route 41. On the northern end, Baltimore Pike is also commercialized, and links Kennett Square and Avondale. The Route 1 bypass runs through the northern edge of the Township and has an interchange at Toughkenamon that so far has remained largely undeveloped. Other smaller but well-used roads include Newark Road, Hillendale Road, and Penn Green Road. 

The only active railroad in New Garden is the Octoraro and Wilmington & Northern line of the East Penn Railroad system; this runs parallel to Baltimore Pike. A natural gas pipeline skirts the Delaware state line and several smaller utility corridors cross the Township, but there are no large power transmission lines. 

The Township owns over 575 acres of land, including 250 acres of sewer authority land, nearly 200 acres of the New Garden airport, parks with active recreation, and nature preserves with only trails. There are several properties with conservation easements, including Bucktoe Preserve (75 acres), which is not open to the public except for scheduled educational activities. There are several large parcels with agricultural easements, and nearly 300 acres of open space controlled by homeowner associations, including Hartefeld National golf course. Other large landholding institutions in the Township include St. Anthony&lsquo's Church, PR New Garden Limited Partnership (future shopping center along Route 41), Toughkenamon Land Co. Inc. (Brandywine Polo), Kennett Consolidated School District, and Chadds Ford Investment Company (Loch Nairn Golf Links).