How a Trip Through Europe Helped John Squicciarino Find Love and a Farm of His Own
John Squicciarino never intended on owning his own farm.
Growing up in Hopewell, he had dreams of one day becoming a movie director.
But that all changed after he spent six months living and working on farms all throughout Europe — in Italy, Austria, France and Spain — as part of the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) program.
“I was on the Amalfi coast in Italy picking olives overlooking ruins and mountains,” he said. “It was beautiful and picturesque. I fell in love with the romance of it.”
Today, Squicciarino, 30, co-owns Rolling Hills Farm, which he leases in Lambertville, with his girlfriend Stephanie Spock. Spock has worked on farms in Alaska, Montana, New York and New Jersey.
Rolling Hills Farm, which was founded in 2014, grows a wide variety of fresh produce on two acres of land. All of the produce is made with organic practices.
Every day on the farm is different for Squicciarino and Spock. There is always work to be done from weeding to harvesting to transplanting.
The two met when Squicciarino returned from Europe and began working at Double Brook Farm in Hopewell — Spock was his boss at the time.
It was at Double Brook Farm that Squicciarino learned more about the physical demands of the job.
“Coming back (to New Jersey), it was like, ‘Wow. This is really hard work,’ ” Squicciarino said. “The first thing I did was plant onions for a week straight. My hands hurt, my legs hurt, my brain hurt from doing the same thing every day.”
This is Rolling Hills Farm’s fourth year attending Asbury Fresh.
Attendees can expect fresh produce, including mushrooms, greens and strawberries; tomatoes, peppers and eggplant starting in July, as well as sauces, ketchup and tomato butter made from their heirloom tomatoes.
“I love coming to Asbury — the people are great, the town itself is really vibrant,” Squicciarino said.
Days on the farm are typically spent working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Maintaining a high quality of life is a common mantra at Rolling Hills.
“When I’m at the farm, I’m not only improving my physical health just by doing the labor, but I’m also improving my mental health by being outside and being more in tune with nature,” Squicciarino said. “Being aware of its ebbs and flows.”
“It’s totally healing and it’s great to be able to grow healthy products for people and help them think more about nutrition. Time around the table (can) lead to improving communities, states, the country. Just talking to your friends and family over a nice home cooked meal. It’s simple.”