LIFE

Scripps Ranch man grows fresh produce

Produce from D’Acquisto Farms can be found each Saturday at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market. (photo by Anna Ruth Ramos)

Scripps Ranch man grows fresh produce

A labor of love in the form of an organic farm with an Italian-American touch has been founded by Scripps Ranch’s own Joseph Balistreri.

D’Acquisto Farms debuted the last weekend of February, selling produce at the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market.

D’Acquisto Farms’ name originated from Balistreri’s great-grandmother’s last name, which was derived from the medieval Italian term buon acquisto, meaning “good buy (acquisition)” or “good purchase.”

Balistreri has lived in Scripps Ranch all his life. He grew up in Wine Country and went to Jerabek Elementary School. His parents have lived in town since the 1970s. Now, it’s just him and his dad.

Balistreri is an experienced farmer who is transitioning to pursuing his own path full-time. He’s been in agriculture for the past eight years, from organic farms to commercial greenhouses, with a background in administration, customer service, quality control to harvesting and planting crops.

Joseph Balistreri

The organic crops are farmed in a 5,000-square-foot space of rented land in El Cajon in what Balistreri dubs a “market garden.”

“I wouldn’t even call it a farm,” he said. “When I say that [market garden], I mean that it’s like a really large garden.”

He does most of the manual labor without a lot of big equipment. It’s an endeavor he’s pursued together with his only partner at the moment, his father Frank Balistreri.

“It’s literally just me and my dad. … He has been instrumental in helping me fund this project and right now our goal for the future is to extend into more farmer’s markets and start a community supported agriculture program and also start to work with more and more chefs,” he said.

When asked about their own Instagram name (@dacquistofarms) #LoyaltoTheSoil, Balistreri said it’s exactly what gives them their competitive edge: from the garden direct to the farmer’s market booth within hours, as opposed to supermarket crops that have been driven in for miles.

“Basically [#LoyaltoTheSoil] is us reiterating that without healthy soil, we cannot have healthy plants and without healthy plants we can’t have healthy people,” he said. “We do a lot in terms of keeping the soil alive and healthy with only organic methods of fertilization.”

So far, just in their first season, the local father and son duo have showcased traditional crops at their market stands. As the seasons change, they plan on selling more basil, tomatoes, eggplant and bell peppers.

“I think it’s great for the community to actually be able to call their own neighbor an actual farmer … because we’re essentially feeding the immediate community here and to have that trust to the person who’s growing your food is, I think, really important,” Balistreri said.

Find Balistreri’s crops at the D’Acquisto Farms booth every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market, 10380 Spring Canyon Road, in the Innovations Academy parking lot. Visit srfm.org.

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