When I was 11 years old, my family moved from a downtown home to a 20-acre farm on the outskirts of a small town in Lancaster County. It was then that my experience with building fires began. When we cleared dead trees and brush from our land, one of my chores included piling and burning the wood debris. I associated wood-burning with labor and carrying out a job that needed to be done. I learned how to use fire as a tool. And with one or two missteps on dry summer days, I also learned how to respect it. A couple years later, my father installed an old parlor stove in our drafty kitchen. I quickly learned about the warmth and comfort a wood fire provides during the long winter months.

In 2006, I installed a wood stove in the living room of my Philadelphia row home with the hopes of avoiding high natural gas prices and self-producing a better source of heat. My uncle gave me the stove. (It is a Vermont Castings Vigilant; the exact model we had in my Lancaster farmhouse kitchen.) I had exposed the brick walls behind the stove and added a brick hearth to match. The black, elegant stove contrasts the brick perfectly and with a crackling fire, produces a warm nostalgia of my country upbringing. Beside the aesthetics, I wanted to re-experience building fires and participate in a renewable energy alternative to fossil fuels.

Immediately, I came up against a significant challenge: finding a consistent supply of high-quality hardwoods, reliably delivered in manageable volumes. Where I grew up, lots of residents use firewood and lots of people sell firewood. This is not the case in Philadelphia. As I trudged through countless word-of-mouth referrals and online ads, I came across the same thing over and over: firewood dealers (often rude or unresponsive) producing wood as a side business; without the time, know-how or desire to properly source, split, season and store firewood… with many refusing to deliver to the city.

I decided I could do better. I started the ongoing, years-long process of sourcing firewood and began delivering to a handful of personal friends with fireplaces. Phil’s Firewood, LLC, was formed in 2009 and the rest is history. It has been a remarkable journey, and our impact is still growing.

For residents, I hope our wood helps you evoke everything you love about your fireplace on a cold winter’s night. For restaurants, I hope the consistent quality of our wood and superior customer service makes your job easier and produces the flavor and experience your customers value.

Wood-burning is an ancient practice, as old as the discovery of fire. Anyone who has built a fire knows the satisfaction of hands-on labor, self-reliance and peacefulness that accompany the warming flames. It echoes throughout history and connects us with our ancestors. It reminds us what is important and foundational… in this world and in ourselves. For those of us and future generations who chose to build fires, wood-burning will continue to serve these needs.

 

 

 

 

Phillip Stoltzfus
Owner & Founder, Phil’s Firewood LLC