Last weekend the Sweet Ridge Sisters got a chance to talk to local farmer Pete King from Freedom Farms.
Pete and his siblings star in Farm Kings, a nationally broadcast reality show about farming. The second season of their show is premiering April 11th on the GAC channel. The King brothers are perhaps best known for their rippling torsos, but they also have a striking optimism about the future of agriculture, a great work ethic, a deep sense of family loyalty, and a whole lot of high quality local food to offer to the Pittsburgh community. You can find more information about Freedom Farms including retail locations and the new 2013 CSA Program here.
Kate: What is it like to be a famous farmer?
Pete: Well, the farming is still the same! There’s a lot more recognition when you leave the farm, which can slow you down. The schedule can get busy and there’s lots of extra stress- but it’s entertaining.
K: What are your cash crops?
P: Corn, definitely corn. Tomatoes, and peppers. This year we’re trying something new and flash freezing our corn and vacuum packaging it. We just bought a fancy new machine so we’ll see how that goes.
K: What varieties of tomatoes do you grow?
P: Mountain Fresh, Mountain Glory, and we just started doing heirlooms with a Cherokee Purple. You’ve really got to get those sold!
K: There are 10 kids farming together in your family. What are the challenges of family farming?
P: There are different ideas about how to do things, and it is easy to butt heads- but having a family is useful on the farm. There are lots of extra hands, and we need them all to harvest the crops. My 12 year old brother has Downs Syndrome, and he’s right out in the field with us. It’s just what we do, As far back as we remember we’ve been working. I like creating. Farming is creating.
K: What is the future of farming?
P: Everybody getting their hands in it. Everybody learning how things are grown and farming is done. These days, people take their food for granted and think it came out of the back room of the grocery store. The future of farming is everybody getting involved and getting their hands dirty.
K: What is your least favorite crop?
P: (laughs) Tomatoes. Don’t like picking or eating tomatoes.
K: How about throwing them at your siblings?
P: Throwing them at my brothers is ok, yeah. But keep ’em in the field!
Thanks so much to Pete King for taking the time to do a great interview. Any readers in the Pittsburgh area should make sure to stop by the Freedom Farms Market or Bakery in Butler or the Cafe and Carry-Out in New Kensington. Locations and contact information are available here, Freedom Farms will also be selling at several farmer’s markets in the city this summer.
For the full story of our encounter with Pete King: Cabbages and Kings, Galoshes and Spring
For more of our own Sweet Ridge Farm stories, click here.
For more of Kate’s urban adventures in Pittsburgh, click here.