Family makes Kindred Farms work
By Dawn De Busk
CASCO – Shirley Greeley lives half-a-mile from her dream business, a farmhouse turned market and bakery.
Starting this type of business has been a goal Shirley has wanted to achieve for years. It was an idea she started sharing with her daughter Corrin Conforte-Albrechi about three decades ago and she’s been talking about it ever since.
While vacationing in upstate New York, the mother and daughter had stopped for a bite to eat at a market and deli inside a renovated farmhouse. Her daughter was 9 years old at the time, and Shirley said to her, “This is the kind of business I want to own one day.”
Little did they know that Corrin would be the co-owner working side by side with her mom?
Of course, it did not happen overnight. After purchasing the farmhouse on Pikes’ Corner in 2016, the whole family pitched in to preserve as much of the structure as possible.
“It was a family affair. The whole family did the renovations. It took a whole year to renovate. Renovating this place became fulltime employment for us and our husbands,” Shirley said. “It has the original ceiling and original brick work.” Additionally, the family videotaped and put on Facebook the carpentry work and renovations that took place, she said.
Before the product arrived and before it was time to open their place of business to the public, the spouses of Shirley and Corrin gave notice at their respective jobs.
So, the husbands and the wives became the employees of Kindred Farms Market & Bakery, making it a family owned and operated business. The two teenage girls at the register behind the glass bakery case – those are the daughters of Corrin.
While it might not be apparent to most customers who were so pleased with the farmhouse renovations and the fresh baked goods, Shirley’s parents – Erhold, Sr., and Anita Kilkenny are part of Kindred. A glass heart fused from their ashes hangs inside the store with framed photos of dad and mom on either side.
The hard work that Shirley and her family put into having a business of their own – that hard work ethic was something Erhold and Anita had taught Shirley when she was a young girl growing up on the family farm in Guilford, Connecticut.
“My parents are here with us. They were farmers. My daughter and I are bringing back the farm spirit,” she said.
Kindred Farms Market & Bakery held a grand opening on Saturday, July 1. The shop is located in Casco on the corner of Route 11 and Route 121.
Kindred’s entrance is off Route 121, also known as Meadow Road. The Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) deemed that a safer access road since Route 11 has more traffic. There is ample parking and room to turn around. The yard has two picnic tables complete with umbrellas for shade or drizzle.
Inside the store on Saturday, they had run out of sticky buns a few hours after they opened. The mother-and-daughter team had burned the midnight oil preparing for the open house.
“We are straight out. So busy keeping the bakery cases full. We worked until midnight on Friday night,” Shirley said.
Her daughter had walked into the room and added to her mom’s comment.
“I thought there were enough sticky buns. I made 150 of them and they were gone by 9:30 a.m. and people are still asking for them.” Corrin said during the weekend before the Fourth of July.
“I make the cheesecake, fudge, muffins and breads,” she said.
If the homemade sticky buns and other desserts don’t tempt the taste buds, there are the colors and smells of local produce to seduce the buyer. Kindred Farms carries and sells the fruits and vegetables of nearby farmers. Voluptuous strawberries sit next to bins of ripe veggies. There are heads of purple and green cabbage.
It seems Shirley does not have any time to sit and ponder her good fortune. But, with her family covering for her, she had a moment of free-time Saturday afternoon.
The fact that “Kindred” means family was a factor in choosing the name. The satisfaction of returning to Pike’s Corner a business is another thing that pleases her. Not even 10 minutes go by before another person approaches Shirley with a story of the grocery store that once stood here.
A woman leaned into the room where the produce was kept and apologized for the interruption. “This is great. This was here when I was a kid,” the woman said. “Thank you. I will be back.”
Shirley said that the community has been amazing with their support and positive comments.
“I am in shock walking around here today,” Shirley said as though she wanted to ask someone to pinch her to make certain she wasn’t dreaming.