VALENCIA, Pa. — Lights. Camera. Action. That’s what happens when actors and actresses are trying to create a movie. But what happens when you turn the lights on and point a camera toward a farming family?
That’s how they describe it and that’s how the King family wants it.
The farm endured 24 days with no rain, the irrigation ponds were nearly dry and then a hail storm hit. Now include 10 brothers, a sister and a mother.
Let’s face it, there’s no need to create drama in this scenario.
The siblings are produce farmers with the goal of making their farm work. The children range in age from 13 to 29, and each have their own identity and involvement in the farm, Freedom Farms.
The Kings are honest about their farm and the life they lead, and that’s the one thing they hope comes across in the 10-part television show. Their desire is that it gets people excited about agriculture.
The family is known for their vegetables at farm markets around western Pennsylvania and it is clear they are a close-knit family, with their jokes and banter back and forth.
The three oldest brothers, Tim, Pete and Joe, went together as partners and built the current farm business.
They have only been in business for four years, but they have been busy. They operate a bakery, Boldy’s Homemade Goodies, two farm markets — The Market at New Kensington and the Freedom Farm Market. In addition, they raise free range chickens and eggs and offer flowers for sale.
One thing is for sure after hanging out with Tim, Pete, Joe and Dan for a day — nothing is fake on the show. These men aren’t afraid of hard work and they tell it like it is.
Tim is the farmer. He prides himself on the fields, and takes charge of tillage, growing, spraying, fertilizing, transplanting, baling hay and straw for the farms.
“Everything I grow, I pick,” said Tim.
The family is farming approximately 200 acres. Of those, 135 are for growing vegetables, everything from asparagus to zucchini. The rest is for hay and straw.
When asked if producing a reality show has impacted the farm, Tim said that it had slowed the farm down because there is only so much time in a day.
However, he feels it will be a good thing because it shows the American people, who are disconnected with agriculture, what really occurs on farms across the country.
“It’s going to be a good thing,” said Tim.
He said the slow-down has taught the brothers how to get caught up and change things a little in order to get everything done.
Tim said there is nothing else he would rather be doing than farming.
“I’ve done it my whole life. We always have. Ever since I could, I’ve been working on the farm,” said Tim.
He said he went to college for a couple of years and worked different jobs, but the farm still called him home. That’s when the brothers made the decision to go out on their own and build the business.
Dan King, the youngest of the oldest five children, said the show has been an experience he won’t soon forget.
He is responsible for filling in where needed and is trying to build onto the business by integrating intensive grazing with some livestock. He cautions they are starting slow.
For now, the farm is raising 2,100 meat chickens and 1,000 egg layers. And the newest addition is three hogs, two of them will be used for breeding and the other will be processed.
Dan is also hoping to add cattle to the operation in the future. However, the brothers still need to build facilities and pastures for that to happen.
Peter King, a partner in the business, stands out in the crowd. He runs one of the markets and interacts more with the public.
He said his goal is make sure people get the healthy food they need and realize farming is not pretty, but a lot of hard work.
“I just try to deliver a quality product with a smile,” said Peter.
Tim said it’s a struggle for every farm to survive and Freedom Farms is no different.
“We want people to see how hard it is to produce quality products and to realize how much labor there is involved and how little profit there is,” said Tim.
He said one thing the family is trying to emphasize in the TV segments, is that they are trying to improve the farm by blending the old ways of farming with the new ways of farming.
“We are trying to include what our grandfathers knew, with what we have learned,” said Tim.