Colasanti's begins! Producing vegetables and greenhouse crops. Our retail business was a small fruit stand.
Expansion started to pick up speed. We started to produce new crops: lemons and orange trees.
A new specialty takes root: cacti and succulents!
The farm is situated on over 35 acres, 3.5 of which is indoors, in
Grandpa Colasanti, as thousands knew him, was born Aleutario Colasanti on October 15, 1902 in Ceprano, Italy. His mother was Angela and his Father was Guiseppe.
Sixth born of seven children, he lived in this Italian community for 22 years. The very poor living conditions, however, drove him to explore opportunities he had heard of from relatives in Detroit, Michigan.
Unfortunately, immigration to the U.S.A. had been curtailed and he was told that Windsor, Ontario was close and had expanding opportunities as well.
In 1924 he recruited enough bond money as was required by the Canadian Federal Government and boarded a ship that would sail for 23 days to dock in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was here that Alex learned about the Town of Kingsville and decided that this would be the location where he would try to start a new life.
In 1927, together with his friend Armand Mastronardi, they saved $75.00 to buy a Model T. This gave the two men the ability to socialize. Alex could now travel to Detroit to visit his brother and cousin.
Struggles to overcome a variety of hardships only fueled his desire to work harder and succeed. Although he was neither settled nor established, Alex would routinely send money back to his mother in Ceprano.
In 1930, he returned to Italy. Conditions had not changed and 3 months later he returned to his new homeland. The 29 year old pioneer rented a house with his brothers and sharecropped for some time.
On one fateful trip to Detroit, Alex met Emma Colagiavanni. The two fell in love and decided to elope on March 29, 1932. Emma adapted well to her new home country and was soon planting tomatoes with her pioneer husband. Although they were hard at work on the farm, Emma and Alex were excited about starting a family together. Their firstborn Joe arrived in 1933, Ron was born in 1935, and Alex Jr. (Sonny) in 1940.
The couple showed tremendous resiliency and work ethic during these years. They managed to save enough money to put a down payment on a small farm in 1941. It was two years later that Emma and Alex managed to pay off the mortgage for what is now Colasanti Farms.
After the Second World War and into the mid 40’s, Emma and Alex became very active in sponsoring other Italian immigrants. Alex would find jobs and housing for the 200 to 300 individuals that they had sponsored. His hope was that they would have an easier start than he did.
In 1945 Alex built his first greenhouse and would soon be growing crops into the winter. He did so well farming that season that he purchased an additional 13 acres of land and built a second greenhouse.
In 1948 a baby girl, Anna Marie, was born to the elated Alex and Emma.
Alex’s life was filled with trial and triumph but his belief that members of the community could work cooperatively never wavered. His efforts to coordinate with people were instrumental in the initiation of institutions such as the Roma Club, and the Sun Parlor CO-OP.
The hard work and generosity of Emma and Alex gained them many friendships within the area. These friendships were an important part of their lives.
Guests would routinely gather for Sunday pasta and meatballs, the annual snail feast, or to eat fresh figs and grapefruit from the original hobby greenhouse. Sundays in the Summer were spent playing Bocce Ball on the farm. In the Winter, rabbit hunting was another gathering of friends.
This close-knit group of friends showed their sense of community on a cold December day in the late 40s when a mishap took place on Emma and Alex's farm. The boiler room went up in flames. Neighbours and friends jumped into action. Not only did they help save the crop, but they also helped rebuild the boiler room in just 2 days.
Alex always had his hands in the soil. He gardened in the greenhouse in the early spring, and outside all summer. If he wasn’t busy in the garden or the fruit market, he would weave a basket or two.
In 1975 Alex’s wife Emma suddenly died. Life would change for Alex, but he never let a day go by that he didn’t contribute to the benefit of others. He became more and more active in his later years weaving baskets from the branches of willow trees on the farm.
There was no one more important in Alex’s life than his family; especially his grandchildren, their spouses, and all the great-grandchildren that he adored. There was never a time that his eyes didn’t light up in the presence of the kids, right up until his very last days.
Alex died at 10:30 pm on November 6, 1998, in his hospital room which was filled by his sons, daughter, their spouses and his grandchildren around his side. He left this world knowing he had done well.
He has instilled a work ethic into his children that has become a big part of their success.
His memory lives on as an inspiration to his family and friends. We all give him thanks for these gifts that he has left all of us.