When he was a boy, Derrick Wright loved nothing more than riding his bicycle around his grandfather's 375-acre farm just outside the small, central Vermont town of Randolph. He didn't know it then, but nearly five decades later, he'd still be riding around that broad swath of land, having traded in his bike for a tractor. He now spends his time putting up a cut of hay for his 50 Ayershire and Jersey cows, hauling a tank of late-March sap, or towing a wagon piled high with rock maple and yellow birch. "My favorite part of farming is the day-to-day, and season-to-season changes," says Derrick, through the sort of thick Vermont accent that comes from a lifetime of working the land. "I guess I like the fall the best," he admits when pressed. "But of course then you've got to deal with what comes after."
The Wrights have raised four boys on the farm; their third son recently completed the dairy program at neighboring Vermont Technical College, and he helps keep the farm running smoothly. “It’s been a tricky year”, says Derrick. Milk prices have swung from as high to as low as he’s seen them, leaving him unsure exactly what the future holds and humbled by the complexities of the business.
Still, the Wrights are hopeful about the future. “It seems like in this area, people realize the value of buying local and supporting the family farmers. We might be just getting by right now, but I’m optimistic.” He pauses for a moment, perhaps reflecting on the daily changes that keep him attached to a way of life that can be as difficult as it is rewarding. “You know, I look in my little corner of the world, and it seems like things are in pretty good balance.”