My son Joe, a Tuft’s University Economics graduate, was awarded his Master’s Degree in Real Estate last week from New York University. He is the author of a blog called A Student of the Real Estate Game. An entrepreneur by nature, his passion is real estate development with an emphasis on sustainable development and green building. Everywhere we turn nowadays, we are bombarded with “green this and green that” and the idea of sustainability. Many of you, including me, have probably wondered what does this really mean. In simplest terms, sustainability focuses on minimizing the impacts a particular industry has on our environment. In other words, sustainability is the capacity to endure and remain productive over time. Ways of living more sustainable can take many forms from reorganizing living conditions (eco-municipalities) to reappraising building practices (sustainable architecture and design) to basically adjusting individual lifestyles to conserve natural resources.
I would like to think that much of Joe’s passion as an entrepreneur and in particular for real estate development has in some way been nurtured by projects developed by my brother Fred and I (FJ3 Development LLC). Hopefully, his social consciousness in being interested in green technology has also flowed from how Fred and I have raised our kids and how my parents raised us. Although the idea of living green is something very current, the reality is that it is not a new concept. A great example is my grandfather, Giuseppe, an immigrant from the region of Puglia in Italy. Grandpop had an incredible respect for nature and in his own way, an innate understanding of the delicate balance between production and consumption. Growing up, we were fortunate to spend every Sunday at my Grandparent’s house enjoying a feast created by Grandmom.
Everyone shared in the bounty, my aunts, my uncles, and cousins alike. Typically upon arrival at Grandpop’s, he could be found in his garden tending to his tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, herbs, and all different forms of produce. His garden was immaculate. It was a thing of beauty and pride. But far beyond the mere fact that it was a source of pride, it was as much a connection with the land. He did not know it at the time, but he was a steward of that small piece of ground in Northeast Philly. He fertilized it naturally (thanks to the nearby horse farms), he seeded, irrigated, trimmed, and harvested, all the while producing on a very small scale, incredible fruits of his labor. Not just our family, but the entire neighborhood was lucky enough to share in his harvest. And guess what – his garden remained sustainable, year after year, salad after salad, pot of gravy (tomato) after pot of gravy.
The beauty of what Grandpop started is that this connection to the land was passed on not just to his children and grandchildren, but to the entire neighborhood. How proud Grandpop would be to hear that my son Pete has been hired to be the General Manager of Max’s Harvest, a farm to fork restaurant opening in Delray Beach, Florida, on June 9th. Pete will be an active participant, much like my Grandfather, in spreading the farm to table gospel of what is now known as the Slow Food Movement. The emphasis will be on fresh healthy ingredients, locally grown, and simply prepared. Max’s Harvest will be the second generation of the New American food movement. Clean, simple, unadulterated food, that lets the land speak for itself. I can’t help but notice that it sure sounds like my Grandparent’s kitchen!