With Overwhelming Support From the Community, Willey Farms Rebuilds

The beloved Townsend market is our 2019 Editors’ Pick for Best Inspiring Comeback Story.


Last November, a catastrophic fire destroyed much of Willey Farms in Townsend. Family-owned and operated since 1976, the organic market and garden center’s original 60,000-square-foot space offered customers everything from locally sourced produce, honey and gourmet cheeses to organic personal care products. It was a gem, hidden in plain sight.

In the aftermath of the fire, the community rallied to support its beloved local institution.

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“We always knew the community liked us, but we never knew how much until this tragedy,” says Donna Cavender, Willey’s marketing manager. Folks in the community suddenly felt a Willey-shaped hole in their lives and began reaching out, sharing stories about all the things they missed. “It was their happy place,” she says. “And that’s kind of been the impetus for us to reopen. We wanted to do it for our customers and for the community.”


Willey Farms Market All Natural Honey

Photo by Moonloop Photography


Plans to rebuild began almost immediately. “We knew the community was behind us, so we said, ‘Let’s figure this out,’” Cavender says.

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The greenhouse and garden center, which sustained minimal damage, reopened just in time for holiday shoppers. Christmas trees sold out in record time.

By mid-January, a plan was also in place to reopen the store, renamed Willey’s Market, in a temporary location just north of the original spot on Dupont Parkway by late spring. All winter, Willey’s team renovated the new space. At 3,000 square feet, it’s much smaller than the original structure, so for now the shelves are stacked with only produce and the most popular grocery items.


Willey Farms Market Reopens in Townsend

Photo by Moonloop Photography


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“We always refer to ourselves as the Willey Farms family,” says Cavender, “And we discovered that we really truly were a family, because when something like this happens, you really do come together.”

It is not yet known when Willey Farms will be up and running in its permanent location.

4060 DuPont Parkway, Townsend, 378-8441, willeyfarmsde.com

Congratulations to Willey Farms for winning our 2019 Editors’ Pick: Inspiring Comeback Story award! Browse the rest of this year’s winners in our Best of Delaware 2019 feature.

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