The table filled with a King’s ransom did not hold coins or jewels.
Instead, delicious fresh produce, perfectly spiced free-range chickens and a smooth-tasting apple pie with a light flaky crust was the treasure served by the King family of Butler County.
They invited local media to join them Monday night at a banquet table set up in their new market in New Kensington while a camera crew from Great American Country filmed.
The Kings are the stars of a new GAC reality show about farming called … is this too obvious? … Farm Kings.
The show premiered June 14 and will start airing regularly on Thursday, Sept. 27.
“The oldest three boys—Joey, Timothy and Peter—own Freedom Farms,” their mother Lisa says in a premiere episode. “It’s their business. But we all still work as a team.”
That team includes nine brothers (Joe, Daniel, Pete, Luke, Sam, John, Paul, Timothy and Ben) and one sister (Elizabeth), ages 29 to 12, along with their mother … but, not their father.
“Ten kids and your parents get a divorce. It can make it tough,” oldest son Joe said in the film. “We had to move on from my dad after five to 10 years of failed attempts to try to do something together."
“We needed to start fresh and earn our own way. So now my dad is my competitor.”
Their dad is the sole proprietor of Joseph P. King Farm Market.
Farming seems to be an extended family affair. Their dad’s cousins run in Middlesex Township, with a market on Route 8 in Richland Township, Joe said.
A guest at the table said she gets produce from Dillner Family Farm.
“That’s our aunt,” Joe said as he joined members of the media and friends at the table.
Freedom Farms has a market on Route 8 at 795 Pittsburgh Road in Butler. Nearby is Boldy’s Homemade Goodies, which the Kings bought in October 2009 and renovated.
The bakery is a good fit, giving the business income in the winter, Joe said. It also fits well with Lisa’s Gardens—their mother's flowers go well with wedding cakes.
The Kings’ latest venture is The Market @ New Ken at 4323 Shearsburg Road in New Kensington.
That is where the King brothers’ sister, Elizabeth, and mom prepared Monday night’s meal. The boys—Joe, Pete and Daniel—served and sat at the table to chat about their passion for farming.
Farming has been a family affair for generations, said Joe. His "Grandpap" raised livestock and his dad moved into the produce business.
The brothers started out with produce when they founded Freedom Farms in 2009 “after a lifetime of farming in their father's shadow,” their website states.
Joe said he previously worked as an engineer before going into full-time farming.
“You can’t go to school for farming,” he said. “It costs too much … just read a book.”
Joe talks about leading by example and making farming cool again instead of viewing it as a poor man’s trade.
“Farming gets in your blood,” Joe said.
“I couldn’t sit behind a desk all day,” Pete adds.
Of course, the Kings have done more than read books; they’ve been farming all their lives.
“We were born to farm,” Joe said.
Their goal is to make the farm sustainable, Joe said, who manages the operation.
The brothers pitch in to do everything, but the partners have their specialties.
Tim concentrates on the crops, spending his days in the fields.
Pete handles sales when the produce is sold at local farmers’ markets. He also raises chickens, selling the eggs and slaughtering the chickens for their meat.
“Animals make good compost if they’re managed right,” Pete said as the conversation turned toward the Kings’ plan to use as few chemicals as possible and to rotate crops to make the best use of the land.
Farming Does A Body Good
Farming does a body good, as evidenced by the Kings’ website that lists the health benefits of different types of produce.
But the King brothers’ muscular bodies have done farming good too.
After they posed shirtless for the cover of Edible Allegheny magazine in 2011, Stage 3 Productions contacted them and filmed a pilot show in October.
It obviously went well; GAC bought the pilot.
Although it was awkward to get used to cameras around every other week, the family members said they are getting used to it.
“It’s another job,” said Pete, who was initially “on the fence” when the TV show was proposed.
Farm Kings focuses more on farming than family—no Jersey Shore here, Pete said.
“It’s a little bit of a pain in the butt, but it’s unbelievable exposure,” Pete said. “It’s huge.”
Farm Kings airs on Channel 165 on DISH Network and Channel 326 on DIRECTV. To figure out the channel on your local cable provider, click on this link: http://gac.viewerlink.tv/