Ruthie Perretti, restaurateur, cultivator (farmer), founder Marksboro (grain) Mills and Board President of the Food Shed Alliance in Northwest NJ recently came to Dr. Charles Feldman’s Food Ethics, Sustainability and Alternatives class. She talked about the trials and tribulations of being a sustainable local New Jersey grain farmer and processor as well as being a restaurateur.
Ruth Perretti started her career in Fashion and Design. For over 23 years she worked on and off for Ralph Lauren first as Creative Director of Men’s Design, and then as Senior Vice President of Women’s Design. She also had her own Branding and Creative Consultancy with clients such as Newman’s Own, Timberland, and Spike Lee to name a few. Her involvement in agriculture started when she and her husband opened a restaurant in Montclair, Ruthie’s BBQ and Pizza. There was a family farm in Warren County NJ that Ruth had recently purchased from her brothers, and even though her family did not farm the land (there were generational farmers in the community who grew feed on the land), she always had a desire to grow healthy food naturally on the land. In 2016 the opportunity arrived as she left her work in design and committed full time to running the restaurant with her husband. What first started with organic produce for the restaurant evolved into full on organic regional grain growing in collaboration with River Valley Community Grains. Ruthie’s now serves pizzas made from their own flour. But her interest went beyond growing for their restaurant, she was looking to learn more about regenerative farming practices and opportunities for local economic development. This led to the development of a Mill in the village to provide an infrastructure so that other growers could take part in this movement. She also works in collaboration with Montclair Community Farms the Empowering Youth Entrepreneurs from Seed to Sale program which received funding from the USDA with a particular focus on small grain production and vocational opportunities, and she currently serves as Board President of the Food Shed Alliance in Northwest NJ.