John and Joan Lauria took their dream of farming and entrepreneurship and established this remarkable little place that we all know and love, John and Joan’s Road Stand, known to many of you as the Stand.
Joan first met John when she was just 12 years old, and years later when John returned from his time in the Army they began dating and later married.
Joan grew up in Middlesex County where she lived in 18 homes throughout her life before purchasing her current home in Piscataway after she married John. In her teens, Joan worked at a five and dime store, Newberry, in New Brunswick and then moved on to work at a local Sweet Shop. Joan always dreamed of owning her own convenience store as she has always had a love for customer service and helping people. Joan’s father and grandfather were both entrepreneurs.
John was born and raised in Piscataway, the son of a farmer. John grew up on the land we know today as Tangle Wood Apartments on Old New Brunswick Road in Piscataway. John learned the trade of farming from the hands-on experience he gained growing up on a farm. John was a jack of all trades and could easily figure out how to do anything he set his mind to. In addition to farming, he learned electrical work, auto mechanics, and carpentry.
When Joan was pregnant with her second child they purchased their home in Piscataway on Stelton Road. At the time, John was working a full-time job and Joan stayed home to care for her eldest son John.
The following spring of 1958, John farmed the field behind their new home and Joan sold the vegetables in front of their home as they were harvested. John grew a variety of vegetables on his own land including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, and green beans. The tomatoes were always so tasty that Joan became known as “the tomato lady.” John grew what he could on his property with the acreage he had available.
John eventually leased space from three different friends on Old New Brunswick Road to grow additional vegetables such as corn. They also began purchasing Jersey fruit and vegetables in season that John did not have the space to grow from South Jersey Farmers and in season fruit that is not native to New Jersey. The South Jersey and out of state produce was picked up by John daily from a “middle man” in Plainfield, NJ.
As the business continued to grow, parking became an issue. John took his carpentry skills and built a new structure next to their home with a few friends, which became the official home of John and Joan’s Road Stand. The Road Stand was completed just one year after the Lauria’s had their 4th child in 1964.
In the years to follow the Lauria’s expanded the Stand by adding more seasonal items such as bedding plants, hanging baskets, pumpkins, Christmas trees, grave blankets, and more. After their 5th child was born, John moved on from his full-time job and took on farming full time. He continued to farm his own yard and other local Piscataway fields owned by his friends. As their eldest son, John Jr. grew he started working in the fields beside his dad and as the other children grew they also took on certain responsibilities at the road stand such as helping their mom on the register, stocking the Stand, and picking vegetables.
Over 35 years ago John met Harvey Ort, owner of Ort Farms. Harvey came to the Stand from his farm in Long Valley to meet the Lauria’s and have them try out his Jersey corn. John and Harvey built a great relationship over the years and John soon began purchasing the produce he did not have the acreage to grow from Ort Farms. Jersey corn and many other vegetables continue to come from the fields of Ort Farms.
After John’s passing in 1995, Joan and her son Tim maintained the Road Stand and continued their strong relationship with Ort Farms and various other local farmers.
In late 2012, Tim moved on to pursue other interests and Joan’s eldest granddaughter, Kristin, stepped in to help Joan run the Stand and continue her grandparent’s dream. Kristin continues to bring Jersey Fresh produce and other seasonal items to the very Road Stand established by her grandparents almost 60 years ago.
While Piscataway may no longer be known as a farming community, we can still purchase all the fresh local produce from the fields of our New Jersey farmers right here at John and Joan’s Road Stand, where we bring the farm to you.
3/11/1976 – PD Review