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Meet Molly Johnston, Owner of Nomadic Pies.

With a great love of pie, an enthusiasm for local agriculture, and an entrepreneurial spirit, Molly Johnston started Nomadic Pies in 2012. What began as a food truck selling pies on the Chester County Farmers Market circuit, is now an established brick and mortar in the historic downtown of Kennett Square, PA.


The Story of Nomadic Pies:

Having recently graduated from University, I found myself living in Allentown, a city I didn’t feel connected to, wondering what on earth I was going to do next. I happened upon an old newspaper delivery truck from Allentown’s “Morning Call” on my birthday. Without much of a plan, I bought this empty Grumman box truck. Fresh out of school with no money, I bought it for a song and built it out myself, with the help of my dad, as bare bones as it could be. I moved back to Chester County and things started to fall into place.


I worked with local artists to create my brand. For the truck, I chose a color scheme that matched the original paint job so that I could get away with paying for a partial vehicle wrap instead of wrapping the whole thing. I worked with a local business in Fishtown to design the graphic, and a Kennett Square local to draw my font. The wheels were in motion. I was doing this.


While in college, I developed a real interest in sustainable agriculture. My sister had introduced me to an incredible network of people at home. A network of FARMERS.  The people that were growing and producing my food. Smart, hard-working people that were passionate about sustainability and their communities. From then on, everything I learned about conventional, industrial agriculture horrified me. I changed the way I ate. I wanted to know my farmer, and I wanted to know my food. And now I had jumped headfirst into this pie-centric food truck adventure, and I was going to build my business in a way that was true to that commitment.


I became a hobby farmer on the side, raising chickens and turkeys on my dad’s small farm in Coatesville. The very first season, I raised every chicken that Nomadic Pies used myself.I woke up before the sun and drove my old box truck 3 miles down the road to the most quintessential Chester County farm, with its big red barn and its old brick farmhouse. It was truly the most magical workplace I could ever imagine. I talked to the cows that visited the kitchen window while I was working, and I dodged angry geese on my walk to the compost heap to dump food scraps for the chickens to pick at. I built my business on a farm, using locally sourced ingredients, including ingredients raised and produced on that very farm. This farm belonged to an incredible woman named Martha.


Martha was my “farm mom” and what a gift she was. My sister and I spent so much time sitting at her kitchen table, talking about life. She was incredibly wise and taught me so much about so many different things, both on the farm and off. Hannah and I would help her vaccinate sheep, wrangle runaway cows, and bottle feed baby lambs. I even acquired some farm midwifery skills along the way, helping deliver breached baby lambs during the birthing season!


Martha was a farmer, a business owner, and a cheese maker. When I bought that old newspaper delivery truck and moved home, she offered me the solution before I even identified my first challenge. I needed a commercial kitchen to do my baking. That kitchen would be her pool house. The small structure next to her swimming pool had been outfitted for cheese production and was certified by the PA Department of Agriculture. Martha had a large flock of sheep and made cheese which she sold at a handful of Chester County farmers markets. She invited me to share this space, and so Nomadic Pies was born.


I bought my first oven and moved it into the cheese room. She refused to accept any rent, so I paid the gas bill quarterly, and that was the extent of my operating costs. Martha believed in me and what I wanted to build, and so she made it all possible. I am so lucky to have been loved by her, and I wish she could see what Nomadic Pies has become. She passed away in the summer of 2013


.I spent my first three years in business carting my Nomadic Pies to various farmers markets and events in the truck. In 2015, I put down roots in Kennett Square, and opened my storefront. I managed to operate both the shop and the truck for several more years but have since sold the truck and shifted my focus exclusively to the store. Since then, I had two incredible kids, both of whom spent the better part of their first year on my back in the pie shop, or in a wagon at a farmers’ market. I was a business owner and a mom, and I did whatever it took to make it work.  I bundled my babies up in the refrigerated section of the restaurant depot on supply runs, and carefully packed my car around them for the ride home. They were part of it all.12 years later, here I am. My business is no longer nomadic, but the pies still are, and I love hearing how far you take them to share with friends and family.

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