The Willey Farms Story
Unfortunately, on November 5th 2018, Willey Farms had a devastating fire that destroyed the entire building. Although we are heartbroken, we were determined to move forward and build again, this time creating the Willey Farms Village. Our Garden Center and Greenhouse opened on April 12th 2019 and Our Fresh Produce and Natural Foods departments opened in mid May 2019 at 4060 Dupont Parkway which is the property immediately adjacent to the north. As we searched for another space to house our Home Decor and Gift department, we began renovation on the original barn on the farm. That renovation was completed last fall and The Old Barn opened on November 5th, 2019 to rave reviews. The Old Barn has soaps and lotions, antiques, jewelry and gifts. The latest addition to the new Willey Farms Village is the New Mercantile. It was built in February/March of 2020 and opened in July offering a terrific variety of gifts, tableware, silks and silk arrangements, antiques, candles and wall art as well as bird food and bird feeders, Beaverdam dog and cat food, wind chimes and more! As of the winter of 2021, there are more construction and renovation projects underway throughout the property in anticipation of a great spring and beyond. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest. Below you will find the story of how it all began 46 years ago.
In the summer of 1975, Donald and Irene Willey took the first step towards
what Willey Farms would become today when they pulled an old airline baggage
cart laden with fresh vegetables from the family farm to the end of their lane.
Customers came and sales grew. The following year, the cart was replaced by
a small pole building. Donald and Irene's then six young children, along with
several nieces and nephews were employed throughout the summer months
in the fields and as top salesmen at the roadside stand. The going rate for
picking a basket of tomatoes in those days was twenty-five cents, and purchase
prices were added up on a paper bag.
During the late 70's, Donald left his full-time job with American Airlines. Along with farming and wholesaling, he turned the roadside stand into the family's primary source of income. During those early years, the Willey's focused on selling produce grown right on the farm, purchased from area farmers, or obtained from the terminal markets in Baltimore and Philadelphia. By the mid 80's, Mr. and Mrs. Willey had forged buying relationships with southern farmers in Georgia and South Carolina. They were thus able to offer the "hot items" of sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon and cantaloupe weeks in advance of the local season.
The roadside market and wholesale business expanded rapidly. The first building was soon replaced by a second; and the second by a third. The third "stand" as most people referred to it, is part of the existing building today. It has had, however, at least four major additions, greenhouses attached and numerous cosmetic changes since. Product offerings multiplied as fast as the structure itself. First came spring and fall flowers, pumpkins, Christmas trees and pointsettias. Then came a basket and gift area. Nursery stock was quickly added to the mix. Next came a tasty choice of candy, jams, jellies and dairy products. A deli followed, and the most recent addition has been a selection of natural foods and frozen meat.
Willey Farms is now managed by second generation Willey's, numerous relatives, and a superb
group of area residents. Donald went to be with His Father in November of 1997. Sadly, Irene joined
Donald, and her second husband Stan in heaven when she passed away on October 12th 2017.
She loved coming to the market and talking with all the customers and she will be missed greatly.
The newest crop of young Willey's are growing and maturing quite nicely, working and helping out.
Family and staff refer to Willey Farms as "the stand" or "the market" even though it now covers over
six acres. At heart, Willey Farms is still a roadside farm market, but like the six children, simply all