Michael Ferrucci left his home in the Abruzzi mountain village of Tufara, Italy for the United States in 1899. He was fifteen.
Searching for a better way of life, he emigrated to the United States where he found work in Washington state. Michael's hard labor earned him enough money to return to Italy for his father, Giuseppe, and they returned together to the United States. After a couple of years Michael and Giuseppe went back to Tufara where, in 1914, Michael married Concetta Vitarelli and started a family.
Relatives in New Jersey wrote Michael about the abundant, fertile soil they farmed and the opportunities the land presented to those willing to work hard. Leaving his family behind, Michael returned to the U.S. in 1917 settling in the Piney Hollow section of Franklin Township, Gloucester County.
The land where our home farm is located was owned at that time by George McCarthy, a wealthy Philadelphia industrialist. Michael worked for McCarthy, building concrete dams for cranberry bogs. The remains of these dams and bogs are less than a few hundred yards from our packing house. Michael Ferrucci saved his money to purchase woodland from Mr. McCarthy. With dynamite, teams of horses, and help from relatives, Ferrucci cleared the land for a farm. He sent for his wife and family and began growing vegetables.
The farm, and Michael's family, grew. After his death in 1952, his four sons continued to expand the farm, buying more of McCarthy’s land already planted with Christmas trees. The trees sold well, and Michael's sons planted more of them. In the 1960s, nursery production started displacing produce. By 1968, the family business was dedicated full time to horticulture. The company developed a reputation for excellent field grown perennials, shrubs and evergreens. By 1980, Frank Ferrucci, Michael's third son, and Frank's son David significantly expanded the nursery operation.
David’s oldest son, Frank, grew up with a natural affinity for the land. His grandfather and namesake taught him how to plow, cultivate and care for the crops and nursery stock at a young age. Frank learned to fish in the cranberry ponds his great grandfather helped build in the 1920’s and he grew up in George McCarthy’s old home next to the farm.
In 2003, while a student at Rowan University, Frank, intrigued by his family’s roots in the vegetable industry began growing some produce during the summer months between semesters. After graduating from Rowan, Frank continued to expand the vegetable operation, eventually forming Summer Wind Farms, LLC in 2013, focused exclusively on vegetables.
Frank quickly recognized that the old ways of farming were not sustainable. He knew that people wanted fresh, local and healthful food, raised responsibly and locally. He obtained organic certification on much of the farm and today Summer Wind Farms is one of South Jersey’s largest organic farms. Summer Wind Farms sells its produce to the area’s finest retailers, restaurants, and wholesalers. The farm also has several retail outlets as well as a large CSA program.
Michael Ferrucci would be very proud that his family’s agricultural tradition lives on.