FARM HANDS: Anthony and Donna Pelloni started their business in 2007 after purchasing the 96-acre Hopkinton property in 1983. At right is their son, Tom Pelloni.
PBN PHOTO/DAVID LEVESQUE
By Nicole Friedman Contributing Writer
It’s not every day that an international movie star is eager to track down a farmer.
But Australian actor Hugh Jackman (Wolverine in the “X-Men” movie franchise, among other roles) and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, stopped by Pelloni Farm in Hopkinton Jan. 8 after tasting the farm’s jams at the Ocean House in Watch Hill.
“First thing out of their mouth when they walked through the door was, ‘You have the best jam in America,’ ” recalled Anthony Pelloni, co-owner of Pelloni Farm.
The pair chatted with the Pellonis for about 15 minutes, asking about their work on the farm, before purchasing jams and other products from the farm’s on-site market.
“You don’t get to meet celebrities like that because you make jam, you know?” Pelloni said. “It was definitely an experience.”
Though Pelloni Farm hadn’t brushed with Hollywood fame before, it has garnered local and national attention since opening in June 2007.
When Pelloni and his wife, Donna, bought the 96-acre property in 1984, it hadn’t been farmed for at least 50 years, Pelloni said. “Little by little we have cleared land and brought the fields back,” he said. “We’re still opening up more new land all the time.” He estimated that between 16 to 18 acres are currently in production.
Once the farm was ready for planting, the Pellonis immediately started with berries. Pelloni said he always enjoyed growing berries, and his wife “always had the knack for making jam.” The Pellonis now grow many different varieties of berries as well as other produce.
They opened their market five years ago in a barn that Pelloni, a former homebuilder, constructed. Along with their son, Thomas, the Pellonis sell fresh produce in season and baked goods and jams year-round. The market is open all year, though with more limited hours during the winter.
Pelloni Farm also ships products around the country, mostly during the holiday season.
The Pellonis both grew up on dairy farms, and they lived in Connecticut until moving to Ashaway. They wanted to return to farming and “fell in love with Rhode Island” after vacationing there on weekends, Pelloni said.
Thomas, who attended the culinary arts program at Chariho Career and Technical Center, works with his mother to prepare the market’s baked goods, which include pies, muffins and cookies. The Pellonis have five other children, some of whom live nearby and help on the farm when they can.