In the early 1800s, the Wright family moved from England to St. Johnsbury. In 1837, George Wright, one of nine sons, bought a large tract of land in Newport Town because it featured an overflowing spring. He built a cabin near it, and later, a barn and a house. Soon his brother Philander bought adjacent land. The brothers developed Wright’s School House and established Wright Cemetery.
The Wright family passed the land down from generation to generation. In 1961, Carolyn Wright—the fifth generation to live on the farm—married Howard “Tom” Collins, whose family had a dairy farm next door. Carolyn and Tom bought his parents’ farm and a portion of the Wright farm from Carolyn’s uncle. When Carolyn’s mother passed away, she inherited the rest of the Wright farm.
Tom and Carolyn ran a dairy farm for many years, and then turned to beef cows. They keep busy now with a 10,000-tap maple sugarbush. “I’m proud to be a part of a heritage farm, knowing our ancestors have worked hard to be stewards of the land,” said Carolyn.
And now their son, Shaye, is the sixth generation to farm the property. The spring that inspired George Wright to buy the land so many years ago, has enabled Shaye to start Sweet Water Trout Hatchery, one of only six commercial trout hatcheries in Vermont. Shaye also uses the land to produce organic silage and raise beef cows.
Thinking about the future of the land, Carolyn and Tom decided to join with VLT to make sure 329 acres would be available to future farmers. “We wanted to see the land we’ve cared for, and that my ancestors cared for, remain open, undeveloped, and productive for generations to come,” said Carolyn.
Funded by the Freeman Foundation.
This article appeared in our 2017-18 annual report. Story by Sky Barsch. Photos by Caleb Kenna.