An exclusive interview with Anthony Napoli of San Diego based Napoli Farms who delivers Farm-In-A-Box complete with recipes and leftover recipes created by Chef Zhee Zhee & The Flavor Conspiracy.
Napoli Farms connects local farmers to the community with their program Farm-In-A-Box which delivers fresh and organic produce. Fourth generation Sicilian-Italian Anthony Napoli talks passionately about supporting sustainable farming. Eating and selling whole foods has been a long time family tradition. His great grandfather would sell jugs of olive oil and a loaf of cheese to support his family in Brooklyn after leaving Sicily. The commitment for healthy living continued in his life as Mr Napoli worked as the manager at Whole Foods Market in La Jolla and in Hillcrest. He also partnered up with a farm in Ramona called Tom King Farms for two years and worked for Creekside Tropicals for four years at the Hillcrest and the Little Italy Farmer’s Markets.
Napoli Farms currently delivers to local San Diego restaurant establishments such as Snooze, Casa de Luz, and Lean and Green Café. Fortunately, they also have an opportunity for the general public and local foodies to try out their program of Farm-In-A Box. San Diego County is home to the largest number of small and organic farming in the US but not all suppliers can make it out to the farmer’s markets. What sets the Napoli box apart from other farm to table programs is that Mr Napoli seeks out the most high quality and unique produce available. He goes where he needs to go to find fresh and organic ingredients whether it is traveling to parts of central California as well as Baja California in Mexico.
Along with his passion about food, Mr Napoli also loves meeting people who are equally as passionate about food and healthy living. Traveling far and wide does have its adventures. Recently, Mr Napoli took a business trip to a farm in Ensanada. The night before the trip he realized that he didn’t have his passport at home and couldn’t locate it. Mr Napoli went on the trip regardless and didn’t know if he’d be let back into the country. Meeting the folks at the farm was far too important and had been scheduled weeks in advance. Thankfully, customs and immigration were understanding and didn’t seek to keep him any more than normal questioning.
Farm-In-A-Box comes in individual (7-8 items) and family sized (10-11 items) boxes. Patrons can try a one time delivery but the savings mount up with each additional commitment for delivery. New members can start at any time, either for a one-time delivery, bi-weekly, or weekly on a month-by-month or quarterly basis.
Most of the marketing has been from word of mouth, business-to-business, working with wellness centers, and win-win partnerships with a great referral program. Any member who refers a new customer will receive a free local produce box.
For this venture, Napoli Farms has teamed up with Zhee Zhee & The Flavor Conspiracy to create recipes for the ingredients in the box. They meet weekly to come up with creative dishes as well as leftover recipes with several options on how to serve. The recipes are easy to follow and really showcase the true flavors of the fresh seasonal produce.
In the featured Farm-In-A-Box, the kale and celery are from JR Organics, the carrots and beets are from Be Wise Ranch, the apples from Smit’s Orchard and the basil and cilantro from Solutions Farm. The recipes are a “Greens Sooo Easy Soup” and a “Roasted Beets, Carrots And Apples with Crunchy Walnuts.” Zhee Zhee has instructions on how to serve the leftovers in a salad, on a crostini or with a grilled protein. The recipes really show how to use all of the box’s ingredients and how to keep the meals interesting.
The Napoli family’s vision was to help to build a a network and supply chain for the best local foods. Anthony Napoli continues the family tradition today with a much greener and healthier version which is sure to make his great grandfather Calogero Napoli extremely proud.