Imagine having a video camera crew following you around the farm, capturing every conversation you have. Joe, Tim and Pete King signed on to the idea as a way to gain more exposure for their fledgling farm market enterprise.
Today, life on their farm is shared with more than 62 million TV households. Their Freedom Farms near Butler, Pa., is the living stage of the popular "Farm Kings" television series on the Great American Country network.
They and the rest of Lisa King's 10 kids are showing America what farming's all about – hard work, weather and financial risks, family life and fun. They communicate that Freedom Farms has the freedom to succeed or fail as a business. The importance of family (after divorce) and sacrifice also zings through. That's what makes this show a winner.
Last year's first season of "Farm Kings" was GAC's highest rated non-music series to date, reports GAC General Manager Sarah Trahern. "We're excited that season two is finally here."
Joe King, chief architect of the 11-member family's business expansion game plan, found that life as a civil engineer after graduating from Penn State University was no fun. His brothers, too, were working different jobs.
So in 2009, the three started their own farm, "working it the way we knew we could," he says. Harnessing youthful energies and ideas, they built Freedom Farms – a 150-acre land base, 100 acres of rental ground, a Community Supported Agriculture enterprise, a farm market, Freedom Farms Café and Carry-out in New Kensington plus Boldy's Homemade Goodies, a bakery in Butler.
Lisa "Mama Bear" King helps keep all the pieces and people working together. Elizabeth, the only daughter in Lisa's pack, works the café and bakery businesses. Next-oldest involved brother is Dan who's still finding his "best fit" at Freedom Farms.
The farm's development accelerated after a local film production company spotted Freedom Farm ads in Pittsburgh newspapers, then pitched the idea of a pilot TV program to the Kings. The family and GAC bought the idea. "Media exposure definitely made our growth easier," Joe acknowledges.
"We're offering people choice and freedom and a chance to know where their food comes from," he adds. The family hopes "Farm Kings" will inspire other young people to see that farming can be profitable and "cool", as Dan puts it.
Ten new "Farm Kings" episodes start airing on Thursday, July 11 at 9 p.m. EDT on the Great American Country network, then rerun in that same time slot afterwards. Check out their website at www.freedomfarmspa.com .
Catch more King Farm details in the cover story on American Agriculturist
's soon-to-arrive June issue.