American television hasn’t had a hit show about farming since Green Acres almost 50 years ago. This farming family is looking to change all that with a reality show about their Pennsylvania farm.
The four oldest sons, Joe, Tim, Pete and Dan, join their Mom, Lisa, by the pond.
‘We want to make farming cool again’
And they have just the TV show to do it.
By Robin Hoffman
American television hasn’t had a hit show about farming since Oliver Wendell Douglas demonstrated how not to do it on Green Acres almost 50 years ago—and Joe King wants to change that.
Joe and his family are well into their second season on a reality show about their efforts to build a farm near Butler in southwest Pennsylvania. Farm Kings airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. EDT on the Great American Country cable network. (For more information go to gactv.com/farmkings or freedomfarmspa.com )
“We grew up farming,” Joe says. “Our grandparents and parents were farmers, but they never figured out how to pass the business along to the next generation. So five years ago my brothers Tim, Pete and I managed to get a loan and start Freedom Farms on some property my mom owns. Our background is in produce, so that’s where we started. Then we added a bakery and a café, and we’re getting more into meat.”
At 29, Joe is the oldest of the family’s 10 children—nine boys and one girl. They all pitch in to help when they can, and they’re all photogenic.
“Like in any new business, we put a lot of effort into marketing, which is how Stage 3 Productions got wind of us,” Joe says. “They thought we might make a good reality show, and we liked them because they’re committed to a show based on real farm life. So we decided to give it a try.”
As you might expect, the Kings quickly discovered that farming with a camera crew in their hip pocket takes some serious time and patience. “A job like planting blueberries that’d take an hour might take eight hours to shoot,” Joe says. “It’s 50 days of shooting for 10 episodes, and that doesn’t include the time I spend with the crew planning what to shoot.
“But we think it’s really worthwhile. I like that we can inspire people to do what we’re trying to do. We need to encourage that entrepreneurial spirit. The show also helps us share our point of view. So many people are completely disconnected from where their food comes from, and this gives us a chance to show what we do and build public support.”
Ultimately, Joe hopes the show will draw more young people back to the land. “We love what we do, and we hope that comes across to people watching us on TV. We want to make farming cool again. Society glorifies spending 60 grand on a college education, then sitting in an office somewhere, but that’s just not for everybody,” says Joe—and he should know, because he has a degree in civil engineering.
“Sure, it’s expensive to start a business,” he continues. “Farming is hard, and farming while you film a television show is even harder. But I hope I can show my younger brothers and my own kids that farming is a great lifestyle. I want to see them take over this business someday and build it into something even better.”