Updated: Aug 28, 2020
Written by Ronnie Martin and published in the Trenton Tribune:
In 2019, Trenton resident Gianni Di Poce and his family opened Nonni’s Farms, providing organic sustainable food grown with biodynamic methods he learned from his parents and grandparents. There are currently three farm locations, two in Trenton and one in Brownstown Township.
Di Poce was born one year after his parents moved from Italy to America and they brought their agricultural lifestyle with them.
“I’ve been around agriculture my whole life,” said Di Poce, 27, who also works as an independent financial analyst. “I learned how to do it in the backyard growing up and I think it’s important for a community to be able to grow its own food.”
One of the reasons he cited for the importance of a self-feeding community is the event of a national shortage, like the one the United States has been experiencing because of COVID-19.
“America has a health crisis and the pandemic has highlighted that,” he said. “As a country I think we need to go back to using our land to grow and eat real healthy food.”
If it wasn’t obvious already, this is not your average backyard garden.
“While we couldn’t exactly feed all of Downriver yet, I’d say about 100 families or so could eat comfortably off of us,” he said.
Among other fruits and vegetables, Nonni’s Farms offers a variety of tomatoes, lettuce, and carrots. When picking what to grow in these local farms, Di Poce went for crops that may have a shorter shelf life because they don’t need to travel far before they’re eaten. This adds another fresh quality to the food because customers are able to eat their food just days after it’s been finished growing.
“The whole theory behind urban farming is to bring it closer to civilization with quick growing crops that can go from farm-to-table faster than any mass producing farm could,” he explained.
Another unique aspect of Nonni’s would be the delivery service they offer to residents and businesses in certain cities. As you could see on their website, residential deliveries are only available in Trenton, Woodhaven, Gibraltar, Rockwood and Riverview. This is important because in dire times when fruits and vegetables aren’t as readily supplied in grocery stores as usual, it creates a way for a community to be able to rely on itself for fresh healthy food.
“Being able to go to a grocery store and get almost anything you want is something we take for granted,” Gianni said, “I think a community should be ready for the event in which that’s no longer possible.”
Something else he cited as a reason to shop with local farmers is accountability.
“With these big markets you don’t get any accountability when it comes to your food,” said Di Poce. “If you aren’t happy with your produce and take it back to the store, they have nothing to tell you because they didn’t grow or process it. In my case, if you’re unhappy with the food you can talk to the farmer who grew it and we can fix it.”
Nonni’s Farms could be the beginning of a new way to shop with local businesses and help the environment at the same time. With so many things being left uncertain because of COVID, now more than ever a community must be ready for anything. Farming is a profession of hope and very similar to life in that sometimes food will grow and sometimes it won’t, but you have to keep digging.