Jan 142014

In the wake of a devastating fire two weeks ago at Blood Farm that destroyed the family business butchery, Barney Blood’s friends, family, customers, and Groton neighbors have been quietly waiting for the 90-year-old patriarch to decide if the business will be rebuilt. Tuesday morning, he put and end to the speculation and the answered the hopes of farmers and foodies in New England. “We’re going to give it a try,” he said in a phone interview.

The Boston Globe's Blood Farm editorial

The Boston Globe’s Blood Farm editorial

His announcement came on the heels of a surprising — and possibly a unique — occurrence on Sunday, when The Boston Globe weighed in with a supportive editorial urging rebuilding. Pointing out the farm’s, and the Blood family roots in New England, it concluded that “It would be a loss if they don’t, for the farm provides a key link between the region’s past and what could be its culinary future.”

The paper joins a large group of admirers. His phone was ringing off the hook in the days right after the fire, Blood said, as people called to offer sympathy and support. “I had no idea,” he confessed, how important Blood Farm was to so many people, from Maine down through Connecticut to New York. But most especially to area farmers and people raising some of their own food within an hour or so drive of Groton. Last week, Blood was saying he had decided to try to rebuild, but he was putting of making a firm decision until he had reached an agreement with his insurance company over what was covered and what wasn’t. Blood began meeting with them last Wednesday, he said.

Blood’s attorney, Shelia Harrington (also the state representative for the Groton area) and Blood or his son, Dick Blood, will continue discussions with the insurance company. Blood said on Tuesday there is at least a $100,000 gap in the price of new butchering equipment, between what the company’s insurance will cover — the difference between depreciated costs and the actual replacement cost for new machinery.

Also waiting in the wings to assist were town officials and the Groton area business community. Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Peter Cunningham was at the farm the morning of the fire, December 29, and assured Blood that the town would do all it could do to help. Paperwork for a new building will be minimized, Town Planner Michelle Collette said, because it will be a reconstruction process. The new replacement building would be built to current code standards, she said, but the business can skip permitting board reviews.

Several of the Blood Farm employees displaced by the fire are still on the payroll, helping with the clean up effort. Others among the 20 full time and seasonal employees are obtaining state unemployment insurance.

While there has been some discussion in the community about a fund or fundraiser to assist either the business or the employees, no announcements have been made yet.

Fire Chief Joe Bosselait said an exact cause of the fire still had not been determined, and that an exact damage figure had not been set.