Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tears Mark Depiero's Final Days

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Tears Mark Depiero's Final Days

Article excerpt

MONTVALE -- Without saying a word, Mary Jane Bisanzo embraced Elaine DePiero on Sunday, tears forming in both women's eyes as they hugged.

Sunday was a day for hugs and even a few tears as longtime customers bade farewell to DePiero's Country Farm, a borough landmark that is closing its doors this week. Sunday was the last full day for the farm store, though the family said it would remain open on a limited basis through Wednesday.

"I don't know where we're going to go. There's no place like this," said Bisanzo, a Park Ridge resident who said she bought her produce only from DePiero's. Her son -- now a doctor -- was one of the many high school kids who grew up working at the store.

"They've been a pillar in the community," Bisanzo said. "Kind to everybody. Good to everybody. You just don't find that."

The DePiero family has been farming in Montvale since 1924, when 16-year-old Dante DePiero bought 13 acres of land. At its peak, the family owned 102 acres. In 1987, the DePieros opened the farm store, selling doughnuts and pies, fresh produce, meat and prepared food.

But the business is no longer financially sustainable, with the price of produce not rising enough to cover their bills -- electricity alone costs about $20,000 a month, says family matriarch Elaine DePiero. So the family has agreed to allow 28 acres of their property to be developed into The Shoppes at DePiero Farm, a shopping complex that will include Bergen County's first Wegmans supermarket.

The family plans to continue farming on a smaller parcel at Summit Avenue and Craig Road, DePiero said. For now they will sell plants, and Christmas items, like wreaths, blankets and poinsettias. In the future, Elaine's son Glen -- who works 15 hours a day, seven days a week in the family business -- said he hoped to open a small store.

"We're not closing," Elaine said. "We're downsizing. …

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