Lauren Pignatello talks Friday about how someone using a front-end loader tried to flip over her farmstead at Swallowtail Farm in Whitefield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

WHITEFIELD — Lauren and Sean Pignatello, and their family of seven children, were asleep in their Main Street home when the couple was woken up by horrible smashing and crunching sounds coming from outside.

She looked outside, late Wednesday night, and saw a yellow tractor with a bucket loader on it, driving away down the road, dragging cedar branches it had knocked from their trees with it.

Left behind, at the end of their driveway, was the family’s Swallowtail Farm and Creamery farmstand, demolished and in ruins.

“It’s pretty smashed up. The person who did it, our neighbors said, smashed over and over into it; they tried to flip it over,” Lauren Pignatello said. “It felt pretty awful to hear smashing and crunching in the middle of the night and realize someone destroyed a big portion of the way we pay our bills.”

Broken signs and boards inside the Swallowtail Farm farm stand Friday after it was attacked in Whitefield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

She has no idea why anyone would do such a thing, or who.

“It seems like a very random act of aggression by someone that has a lot of anger and hate in their hearts and a need to release their aggression on our farmstand,” Pignatello said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with us.

“We have a sweet little farmstand and a big family and animals and gardens and lots of visitors,” she added. “Our space is brimming full with love and really good energy. We kind of co-exist here, we try to live without fear and with open hearts.”

If that seemingly sunny disposition waned due to what happened to their farmstand in the middle of a cold February night, it only lasted as long as it took for their neighbors, friends and social media connections to find out what happened. Offers of support and encouragement flowed freely and broadly.

The farm’s Facebook page was flooded with offers of help — including money, labor, lumber, and emotional support and encouragement to build a bigger, better, more beautiful farmstand in the destroyed one’s place.

A GoFundMe page a woman from southern Maine set up for the farm, as of late Friday afternoon, had raised more than $13,500.

And neighbors from the surrounding, farm-heavy community have also stepped up to offer their help.

“We’re overwhelmed to hear the support, coming from north to south, east to west,” Pignatello said. “We’re lucky to be part of this wonderful community, we’re getting offers of donations and labor, lumber, grain for our animals.

“Out of something really dark came something very bright,” she added. “Because of the outpouring of support, with hundreds of people reaching out, I feel like I’m on the right path.”

Lauren Pignatello explains Friday how someone using a front-end loader tried to flip over her farmstead at Swallowtail Farm in Whitefield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

She said they will rebuild and once again sell the farmstand’s mix of vegetables, dairy products, award-winning cheese, herbal products, eggs, and the occasional meats, baked goods, plants and flowers.

Pignatello said Friday she was working with their insurance company but had not yet determined whether the farmstand structure, which was built by a local builder 12 years ago, will be covered by insurance.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. Lt. Brendan Kane said they anticipate charging someone with the crime, but declined further comment, saying the case was an ongoing investigation.

Pignatello said she understands police located a vehicle locally that they suspect was used in the incident.

Kane is asking anybody who may have seen anything unusual in the area late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning to call the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at 207-882-7332.

The farmstand usually operates on an honor system, meaning it is unstaffed and people purchasing items are trusted to pay for them. Pignatello said no one ever steals from the farm.

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