By Janee Law
Since the Brigati family started farming on Long Island in 1886, they moved twice before settled at 250 Old Country Road in Melville in 1932.
The farm was commonly known as the Brigati farm, but as business grew, they gave it an official name -- identifying it with the white fences that stood at the front entrance: White Post.
Owning the 30-acre farm with his twin brother Rich, 44, and older brother Ron, 49, Rob Brigati, 44, said the fourth-generation farmers were brought up into the agricultural life and worked very hard, along with his sister, Kim, 47.
Although Rich and Ron first started on different career paths before returning to the farm, Rob Brigati went straight into the family business at 17 years old. Now, Brigati, who resides in Melville, runs its market and garden center.
The farm began selling plants and flowers in 1965, then added pies and breads in 1981.
Rob Brigati expanded the market from one aisle of fruits and vegetables to now include catering, a sushi chef, homemade soups, cookies, preservatives, fresh-baked breads, pies and more.
Offering more than 30 varieties of breads, White Post began selling its pastries online.
“Traditional flavors seem to never fade,” Brigati said, referring to popular pie flavors such as pumpkin, coconut and blueberry cream. In April, White Post took first place for both best apple crumb pie and best pecan pie in the American Pie Council’s National Pie Championship.
However, the market isn’t the only slice of White Post’s business “pizza pie” that keeps customers coming back.
Starting with the introduction of Billy the Goat in 1989, White Post began to develop an animal farm. It hosted its first farm festival in 1991 and then started with kids birthday parties in 1993.
These attractions, what Brigati calls agritourism, is what has kept the farm in business for decades.
“We are the pioneers,” Brigati said, about being the first farm on the Island to have a fall festival. Although some farmers had hayrides and a selection of pumpkins that customers payed for, White Post began charging for entertainment.
Other services that White Post offers includes hosting field trips. “The educational field trips are huge here,” Brigati said, adding that children’s senses come to life when they are surrounded by the atmosphere of the animal farm.
Brigati said this is only the beginning for the farm, and he wants to continue expanding.
“We’re going to put a big kitchen in, and I envision us being a manufacturing farm stand, where we’re making everything here,” he said. “That’s the next level, that is the future of farming [and] we’re only scratching the surface with what we can do.”