Cape Breton business rebuilding after devastating barn fire

·3 min read
The Costelo family is looking forward to rebuilding their barn and business after a devastating fire. (Contributed by Shannon Costelo - image credit)
The Costelo family is looking forward to rebuilding their barn and business after a devastating fire. (Contributed by Shannon Costelo - image credit)

A Cape Breton farm and soap business is getting ready to open the doors again after a devastating fire in February.

The Groovy Goat Farm and Soap Company in Ingonish lost its barn when a fire broke out, engulfing the building in minutes. The family, their home, and the storefront were all unharmed but all of the animals in the barn were lost.

"We're kind of over the initial shock and devastation and it was pretty rough in the beginning," said Shannon Costelo, who owns the business with her husband Ryan.

After taking some time to recover, the family is getting excited about rebuilding.

"We tried not to let what happened slow us down," said Costelo.

The Groovy Goat is set to reopen its storefront early to get in on the reintroduction of the Atlantic bubble later this month. Fortunately, the family had a supply of frozen goat milk and were able to continue making their soap.

However, the business will be opening without a barn and animals to pet.

Penny Costelo gets the shop ready to welcome visitors.
Penny Costelo gets the shop ready to welcome visitors.(Contributed by Shannon Costelo)

Costelo said plans for their new barn are due back this week. The goal is to put up a new barn in May or early June and she hopes to include the community in the process.

If there is a silver lining in what happened in February, Costelo said it's getting to plan for a better barn to serve their customers.

"It will have people visiting in mind, it will be COVID-friendly," she said.

And the public will be in mind when it comes to putting the barn up too.

"We are going to try to have a good old fashioned barn raising," said Costelo. "We had so many people reach out over the last month and offer to help build … that we're going to give it a whirl."

Overwhelmed by support

Costelo said the of support from the public has been overwhelming.

"It just came pouring in from all over the place," she said.

"Some people gave monetary donations, which we certainly appreciated because it will go right toward rebuilding the barn, but then other people sponsored animals for us. Other people have offered to rebuild the barn, people brought food. Like, the support was just tremendous."

Cian Costelo helping feed a goat.
Cian Costelo helping feed a goat.(Contributed by Shannon Costelo)

An online fundraiser brought in more than $76,000.

A Dartmouth man called the Costelos up just after their fire and asked to sponsor the purchase of a goat for his six-year-old granddaughter's birthday instead of getting a present.

"We're going to name the goat after his granddaughter," said Costelo.

Once their new barn is built the family will go about purchasing new animals.

Visitors to the little farm would usually see, and pet, cows, chickens, horses, rabbits, turkeys, and, of course, goats.

However, Costelo said it seems like many farm animals are in short supply in Nova Scotia. Because of that, they're just going to focus on goats and chickens this summer.