A Chef with a Dream of Shared Table Farm
Don Pintabona is pursuing his dreams with a project called the Shared Table Farm, an outdoor and indoor farm that will produce crops during every season and will open in Brooklyn next fall. Pintabona served as the first chef at Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Grill.
“The philosophy behind this farm is simple: solve problems, because agriculture in the U.S. changed its course and it is no longer sustainable,” Pintabona said. “Water is a problem, but also energy, and it costs a lot. We spend about $300 million to get rid of garbage. Moreover, 40 percent of New York’s garbage is food waste.”
The goal of this initiative is to create a system that can take all restaurants’ waste in New York, and with this waste produce energy for agriculture. The energy will be generated by a combination of a solar photovoltaic skin, a biodiesel generator and biogas-powered fuel cells. Water will come from rain harvesting, purification and storage.
Pintabona’s farm can be considered a new way for New Yorkers to think about food issues and reconnect with the environment.
The project, which originally was going to be built in Queens, will cost between $25 million to $30 million and will be considered revolutionary. Pintabona explained that with this system, a head of lettuce will need only six or seven gallons of water instead of the 75 gallons that are traditionally used. “I believe that 30 years from now this project can be a great solution to the food and water problem in the world,” he said.
The goal of this farm is not only to provide vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and seafood, but it will educate others and innovate new approaches to urban food production. The plan is to have an active program in partnership with schools in Brooklyn. “We are also planning to offer courses about cooking,” Pintabona said.
Shared Table Farm is not only a dream, but also a tribute to Rudolph Valentino, an Italian actor of the 1920s. “I spent a lot of time doing research on Valentino’s life and there was a time that my daughter told me, ‘Dad, you are really obsessed with this actor.’ He was a gardener in Central Park, he worked in restaurants, but his ambition was to have kids and a farm. This is my tribute to him.” #