On July 26, Angiuli’s Farm Market posted a photo on its Facebook page of three generations of smiling family members braiding garlic to sell at the farm and its seven other farm market locations.
“A family tradition!” the post proclaims.
But it would take many days before the family could feel the joy they felt that day, as a fire late July 27 destroyed the farm’s main market building and packing shed. Firefighters from the Green Township Fire Department and eight other fire departments were called to the blaze, triggered when propane tanks exploded. There is still no word on what caused the explosion.
The Angiulis lost specialty vegetable equipment, coolers, produce, containers and storage items in the 50-by-200 foot building, with a loss estimate upwards of $500,000. Five greenhouses nearby were also damaged.
“Everything we ever had was inside there,” said Carl Angiuli, whose parents Rita and Mario bought the farm on state Route 46 in 1981 and still work as hard as the younger generation at the farm and market.
The family raises 200 acres of fruits and vegetables, selling seven days a week at the home farm market as well as seven farm stands in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, and three days a week at farmers markets in Steubenville, Beachwood and Youngstown.
With the first morning light, the word of the fire had spread, and the local community began to show its support to the Angiuli family — support that Carl simply calls “amazing.”
Every local farm, farm market, grower and even resellers stopped by, called or texted to see what the family needed.
Employees didn’t need to be called, Carl said. They just came and said, “What do we need to do?”
Local farm markets and produce growers — yes, competitors — immediately offered containers and cooler space, and in two days, the farm’s market reopened for business in a tent. Farms and area businesses have donated or loaned supplies, a vegetable washer and sorter, labor, a forklift, hand jack and other equipment.
Farmers and friends in construction were on the spot with trucks and larger equipment to clear the rubble, and volunteers through the Salem Mennonite Church in nearby Leetonia helped erect a temporary hoop building on July 30.
Longtime customers who had become family friends since buying from Rita Angiuli at the once-bustling Pyatt Street Market in Youngstown showed up. Strangers stopped at the farm with donations of bottled water and food. Someone even dropped off a new bicycle for one of the children whose bike was lost in the fire.
A friend created an online GoFundMe account to benefit the Angiuli family that raised $16,290 in 19 days, surpassing the $10,000 goal. Another friend is coordinating a benefit pierogi sale in Austintown Aug. 19.
The Angiulis are overwhelmed.
“They all have a connection to my mom and the market,” Carl said. “They were hurt, too, when it happened.”
Carl estimates there were 100 people a day who stopped to help with the cleanup or offer a supportive word.
“There was no place to park, so they’d just stop along the road to stop in.”
Carl’s wife, Melanie, crafted the #Angiulitough social media hashtag, and took to Facebook and Instagram to share the family’s appreciation and determination to persevere.
(Column continues below photo)
Harvesting, packing and selling will be the family’s priority for the next three months, Carl said, but “we are going to rebuild, for sure.” In the meantime, they are back in business and selling the quality produce they’re known for.
“It’s better every day,” said Carl, who admits he didn’t sleep at all the first three days after the fire. “It’s part of you, it’s part of your family, it’s our livelihood.”
But the devastation of the fire is soothed by the community’s support, he said, in ways that the family can never repay.
“You know you have that customer base, but you don’t realize it. They’ve helped us move along.”
“There are no words.”
STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!
Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!