Greensburg Farm Market reopens less than three weeks after fire

At this point, the plan is to remain open through the busy season then shut down in July and August

March 25, 2011|By DON AINES |
  • Mary Stagner, owner of Greensburg Farm Market in Halfway, reopened her store Friday just weeks after the building fire that forced her to close.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

The Greensburg Farm Market went up in flames less than three weeks ago, but Friday morning the lot was cleared of debris and covered with pallets full of winter pansies in multiple hues as the family business reopened.

"The whole parking lot was covered with black ash," owner Mary Stagner said of the lot where she has marketed flowers, fruits, vegetables and other products for the past 18 years.

On March 8 — the day she and her husband, Raymond, returned from vacation — the business at 17835 Virginia Ave. went up in flames, gutting the converted gas station building that was filled with candies, jellies, pastas, nuts and other foods.

"The fire marshal said (the cause of the fire) was undetermined, but I guarantee it was arson," Stagner said.

There was no electrical service to the part of the building where the fire originated, she said.

The market was doing business on recently made wooden counters under a canopy with customers buying tomatoes and strawberries along with packs and trays of pansies.

At this point, the plan is to remain open through the busy season and then shut down in July and August, when the remaining structure will either be rebuilt or a new one constructed in its place, Stagner said.

The market will be closed this Sunday, but after that it will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, she said.

The inventory will expand as the season progresses and the weather warms, with onion sets and seed potatoes and more flowers and plants being added, Stagner said.

Friday's reopening came on a day when most people probably were not thinking of planting.

"It was 22 degrees when I got here," she said.

"Last year was my first attempt at growing flowers. I loved it so much," said Erma Taylor of Hagerstown, who came back to the market for a tray of pansies and some strawberries. "I'm so glad to see them rebuilding."

Another customer said he had been coming to the market for years and was heading to a chain store to buy pansies when he saw the market had reopened. The man left with a pair of trays.

Raymond Stagner and the couple's son, Patrick, were running the family's warehouse on Wilson Boulevard, Mary Stagner said. It sells produce to restaurants and other businesses, as well as schools, she said.

Before opening on Virginia Avenue, the business was in a stone house on Dual highway for five years, Stagner said.

Over the years, different generations of family members have worked at the business, said Mary Stagner's sister, Peggy Drummond, who was braving the cold with two other siblings, Bobby Himes and Glenn Himes Sr.

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