Call Wright’s Dairy Farm in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, and you’ll get a helpful recording with lots of choices. Do you want to be connected to the dairy? The farm stand? The bakery?
It’s apparent the farm is a 21st century operation, with ‘side’ businesses that help support dairying and keep 11 family members and 75 employees busy almost around the clock, seven days a week.
Wright’s Dairy Farm was named the 2014 Rhode Island winner of the New England Green Pastures Award. The award is given every year to one outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states, with winners evaluated on production records; herd, pasture, and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying.
A fifth-generation family dairy farm that recently marked its 100th anniversary, Wright’s Dairy Farm not only includes a 130-cow milking herd, but processes the milk on-site. After being pasteurized and homogenized, the milk is bottled for sale in the farm’s retail store, which was established after the success of the family’s home delivery milk route.
Wright’s Bakery, which started in Claire Wright’s kitchen after she decided to sell her delicious pies, “took on a life of its own,” says Ellen (Wright) Puccetti, a 4th generation dairy farmer/manager. The bakery now does a brisk business in baked goods, including made-to-order wedding cakes.
Just as generations of Wrights continue to run the farm, so, too, generations of Rhode Islanders come to this iconic landmark to buy milk, cream and bakery items. They can even watch the Wrights’ 130 cows being milked, thanks to the addition in 2009 of a milking barn with large viewing windows. The farm is open to the public year round, 365 days a year.
The seed planted in 1914 that grew into this large-scale enterprise was relatively small.
The first deed for the property was recorded by George Wright back in 1896, and by 1914, after four years of milk deliveries, George built the homestead for his growing family.
During the 1930s, Ernest Wright took over the business from his father and continued home deliveries until the 1970s, when his only child, Edward bought the business.
He soon opened a retail farm store to sell the milk and eggs after discontinuing the home delivery route and his wife, Claire, started making pies in her home to be sold in the small retail store, opening the bakery in 1976.
“We’re moving into our 5th generation,” Ellen says proudly.