Family-Owned Delaware Garden Shop Willey Farms to Reopen After It Was Destroyed in a Fire

A fire destroyed most of a beloved Delaware produce and farm market just before Thanksgiving last year. But now, Willey Farms is ready to reopen — mostly.

Gretchen Willey, the daughter of Willey Farms’ founders Donald and Irene Willey, said that the newly rebuilt garden shop section of the business will open April 12.

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Gretchen and her siblings who now own the farms in Townsend, Delaware, said customers can expect some changes but they will still feel the familiarity of the old Willey Farms.

There will be refurbished and new greenhouses and a new space for produce stands and outdoor decorations. On weekends in the spring and summer, food trucks will come to Willey Farms.

Customers will also have the chance to sign a large banner in front of the shop in support of the family-owned business.

Donald and Irene Willey began Willey Farms as a fruit cart at the end of their street. They expanded that cart into a market that covers six acres.

On Nov. 4, the farm went up in flames overnight. Much of the garden center, deli, market and gift shop were destroyed.

The only thing left of the main building was the floor.

The loss left the community devastated. But the Willeys promised to reopen the store their parents founded 44 years ago — and maybe even expand that main building, from the floor up.

“I feel like they loved it as much as us. It was a part of their family too,” said Gretchen.


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