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Sarah Nappa and her family grow a plethora of fruits, vegetables and grains on their Southold microfarm. (Photo credit: Lilly Parnell)

I first came across Sarah Nappa’s culinary delights nearly 12 years ago while savoring handcrafted paninis at Provisions, the charming enoteca that was once located in The Winemaker Studio which she operated with her husband, longtime winemaker Anthony Nappa, in Peconic. The quaint space offered a peek into the couple’s dedication to quality, homemade products made both locally and imported from Italy honoring both of their families’ heritages. While they ultimately decided to close The Winemaker Studio in 2021 due to constraints brought on by the pandemic, the couple continued to focus on creating high-quality food at their family’s homestead The Shared Table Farm. The Nappa family has been homesteading at their Southold home for eight years, practicing sustainable living in its utmost form. 

For Sarah and Anthony Nappa, creating a regenerative family farm was destined to happen. Sarah, a former North Fork Table & Inn chef, is a graduate of the Italian Culinary Academy and holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences degree in animal and equine science from Colorado State University. Anthony studied botany at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and completed a degree in Fruit and Vegetable Agriculture from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Anthony went to New Zealand to receive his formal training in winemaking from Lincoln University in Christchurch where he received degrees in both Viticulture and Oenology. Sarah happened to be studying abroad in New Zealand when they first met. 

While you may know Sarah for her role as Southold Town Councilwoman, her desire to do better for our community can also be seen in her garden.  It was an honor to recently tour the Nappa homestead with Sarah and learn about the deeper meaning behind why she grows and preserves food.

Photo Credit: Lilly Parnell

Sarah first began gardening in 2009 as a backyard gardener with three modest raised beds and six chickens. “With both of our educational backgrounds, it was always a dream to have a mini farm homestead,” said Sarah. 

The Nappas’ desire to expand their traditional kitchen garden became stronger as their family grew. “We looked at quite a few properties with land, and eventually found the spot we are currently in. It was perfect as it was only being operated as a horse farm with underutilized land.” Sarah and Anthony along with their two sons Enzo and Leo, ages 7 and 10, currently live on three acres of farmland on the Main Bayview peninsula in Southold.

They quickly plotted out how they planned to turn their grassland into a sustainable, regenerative micro-farm. Their first step was planting an orchard given that fruit trees tend to take the longest to come to fruition. They started with twenty-five fruit trees; apples, peaches, pears and cherries. The farm currently boasts a perennial garden with blackberries, raspberries, black raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, asparagus, beach plums, currants, gooseberries and horseradish. Since 2015, they have grown over 100 varieties of different annuals in five raised beds including tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beets, eggplant, potatoes, melon, squash, ground cherries, dahlia, nasturtium, zinnias, tithonia, straw flowers, lettuces and radishes. As Sarah puts it, “If there’s a vegetable, we’ve grown it!”      

While they have currently scaled back their livestock on the property, the micro-farm was previously home to two bee hives, seven full-time goats along with yearly arrivals of new kids, fifty chickens, two ducks, one horse, and one pony. “By planting a cover crop of clover to feed our animals on site, in turn, their manure created a rich compost and natural fertilizer for our garden and orchard. We created a complete closed-circle environment,” said Sarah. “We have to have animals as a part of it; you can’t have an organic system without animals.”

Photo Credit: Lilly Parnell

The Nappa’s holistic approach to growing food is abundantly clear this time of year with their rows of heirloom pumpkins flourishing above ground while hundreds of potatoes grow underneath. Anthony tells me this method helped tremendously to keep weeds from overtaking their plants. “One year we composted our Krupski farm pumpkins and since then, we have always had volunteers,” Sarah explained. Volunteers are plants that grow on their own without intention and usually from organic compost. “We also used to collect pumpkins from locals as winter food for our chickens and goats. Because of this, each spring we constantly have pumpkins sprouting. We have a plethora of types of pumpkins and it’s always a surprise!” When the pumpkins come up each year the family makes a game of it and carefully moves the plants back into rows. 

Having the farm since their sons were toddlers means that their sons grew up birthing goats, pulling weeds, picking strawberries, digging potatoes and everything in between. Sarah homeschools her children with the support of the local homeschooling community and utilizes the garden as an outdoor classroom. During my visits, the boys have amazed me with their gardening knowledge and enjoy foraging the fruits of their labor. 

In a classroom roofed only by the sky, Sarah imparts lifelong lessons to her sons. “You’ll never be hungry if you know how to grow your own food,” she said. “Understanding the idea of where everything comes from and bringing that back to know what it takes to get that dozen eggs you’re throwing into a pan is really important.”

Photo Credit: Lilly Parnell


FAVORITE PART OF GARDENING: Crafting meals around things I’m growing is my favorite thing. When I’m coming up with something to make, being able to pick it and take it right to the kitchen is really great.  It’s easy to buy from the grocery store but growing different varieties helps you push your limits.

LEAST FAVORITE PART OF GARDENING: Managing Anthony’s growing habits! He always tries to grow too much and I am the one that has to do something with it. Luckily we always feed it back to the animals or compost it and the whole circle completes itself again.

FAVORITE CROP: Our beach plums had a great crop this year! I love to make Asian beach plum sauce in jars for winter. I don’t use a lot of jams and jellies so I try to come up with different ideas for our fruit harvests. One thing we are growing that is very cool is an ancient Native American type of polenta corn from seeds given to me by Steph Gainer of Invincible Summers Farm through a seed-saving program called the Endling project. We receive 5-7 types of plants per season that are nearing extinction which we grow and cultivate seeds from for the project. We love an ancient type of cantaloupe melon from Turkey we discovered from the Endling project. Cantaloupe are another thing I love to grow as it makes a huge difference to grow your own. They are so delicious when cut ripe off the vine! 

UNIQUE THINGS TO PRESERVE: We have family recipes passed down from my father-in-law for preserving eggplant and zucchini. We slice zucchini thin, salt and sundry it, saute it then jar it with olive oil. Similarly, we blanch eggplant and preserve it with vinegar, red chili flakes, and olive oil to serve on crackers and sandwiches throughout winter. I’m known as “Sarah with her sauces” by my friends as I’m always bringing things like pickled onions, carrots, kimchi, spiced sauces and other accouterments to parties. 

FEELINGS THE GARDEN EVOKES: The garden provides me with a sense of home and community. The Shared Table Farm name we use for our homestead comes from the idea of sharing what we have and what we do with the community around us. We are friends with a lot of local farmers so our homestead allows us to have something to barter with and enjoy together. Most of our food year-round is directly from the North Fork. What we don’t grow on our own we usually get from Feisty Acres, Deep Roots Farm, Sang Lee and Southold Fish Market to name a few. 

LESSONS FROM THE GARDEN: Always be flexible and do what works for you. Grow what you are going to be fulfilled by and what you are going to enjoy eating. The biggest lesson: there’s always next year. I didn’t have a chance to process a ton of tomatoes this year but I’ll look to next year to plan more and make it better. Each season is different and that can be a life lesson, too.