Rocky and Allison Graziose of Bayport have always believed their dog, Benji, deserved treats that were not only tasty but also packed with health benefits. Using their lifelong passion for health, wellness and plants, the couple created Benji’s Farm organic, plant-based dog treats, attributing their 4-year-old springer spaniel as their inspiration.
“I’ve always been interested in plants,” Rocky said. “When I’d watch my Italian grandparents working in their garden, planting tomatoes and other vegetables, I often thought that plants should be used for more.”
His love for plants continued throughout his academic life, and he received a Ph.D. in botany from Rutgers University, where he studied plants for medicinal purposes. Allison, a health, wellness and physical education teacher, also shared the same interest, and together they created Benji’s Farm to help improve overall health for dogs.
The treats come in a variety of flavors with different health benefits. One of the most popular, Sleepy, contains lavender, chamomile and passionflower.
“It’s a natural Xanax, with elements that help relax your dog and has a great peanut butter taste,” Rocky said.
Another favorite, Hippy, contains turmeric, cayenne and bay leaf to support hips, bones and joints. Smiley, an everyday treat, supports oral health and contains parsley, myrrh and clove, which has a breath-freshening effect. Other varieties include Brainy, Spunky and Tummy.
To further spread awareness, the couple started a Kickstarter Campaign to help develop their brand and create a sense of community for those seeking a healthy alternative for their pets. They currently have 80 backers and are continuing to promote the power of plants.
Benji’s Farm has many factories across Long Island. Last year, the Grazioses teamed up with close friends, Jason O’Neill, an engineer, and his wife, Kristina, a nurse practitioner, who also share a love for animals. They plan to help grow the business together. The O’Neills' dog, Lucy, and Benji are the official taste testers of the brand.
The Grazioses also partnered with the Animal Relief Fund in New York City, whose mission is to provide pet food and supplies for families struggling financially. Benji’s Farm donates bags of treats and a portion of their proceeds to the fund.
Benji’s Farm treats sell for $12 a bag and can be purchased on Amazon or by visiting benjisfarm.com. Long Islanders can also purchase the treats at Sherry’s Market in Babylon, Barkfield Road in East Northport, Cornucopia in Sayville and Advanced Animal Care in Huntington Station.