Don DiLillo was out of college and working for Empire LED Solutions, when he saw the light, a different path for himself to live up to his environmental ideals.
Having worked summers on a farm, he already had an awareness of agriculture, an interest that had sharpened during his studies at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Bit by bit, the interest burst into full bloom when he developed the idea of Don’s Finest Living Foods, growing such foods as sprouts and microgreens, tailored precisely to consumer choices. Microgreens are the shoots of salad vegetables that are picked just after the first leaves have developed. DiLillo says the nutrients are concentrated in the young shoots, often making them better for people than the fully grown versions.
After working on the plan in his parents’ basement, he moved into the empty Artie’s Food Store on East 17th Street in Huntington Station. The old grocery store needed renovations after sitting idle for a long time but it was an investment DiLillo saw as important to the continued growth of his business. There, in his urban farm he grows foods to order, delivering them to customers, including individuals, healthfood stores and juice bars. The space is filled with racks of greens growing under lights. He has plans to expand further.
“Moving into the future, we’ll be getting new products,” he said. “It’s the smartest thing I could have done, invested in this business. We went net positive in nine months.”
“It’s going really well,” DiLillo said. “We’re getting new customers every week and everyone is feeling healthier.”
Launching the business also meant he was part of a new wave of young, local entrepreneurs establishing businesses in Huntington.
His entrepreneurship has been spotted by others. Last week, he was among those recognized for their achievements at the 2018 Innovator of the Year awards.