We drove through a green rolling countryside as we made our way to Freedom Farms for the final meal of the day to end our tour of Butler County – an hour’s drive north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was looking forward to our last meal of the tour in the rural part of the state with its wholesome and hearty home-cooked farm food.
The Freedom Farms family is led by their outstanding mother, Lisa, a divorced mother of ten. She is the driving force behind the running and development of Freedom Farms, as well as keeping the family together. She also supervises the preparation of all meals, runs the family Bakery, supervises the Sandwich Shop and the Donut Shop and grows and sells fresh cut flowers for the family business. Her family lovingly calls her “Mama Bear Lisa.”
Well, she deserves this pet name. According to her children, she has struggled hard to keep the family together and has so far succeeded. After her divorce, Lisa worked to keep the family as one unit. She instilled in them the value of the work ethic, of cultivating the land and maintaining the closeness of family life. As her eldest son and CEO of Freedom Farms Joe explained, “My mother taught us the work ethic and we will teach our children the same”.
Besides the mother and the eldest son who are at the apex, all the other children have their designated jobs. Elizabeth (“Bitty”): helps her mom out at the family Bakery; Tim: in charge of planting and tending to all of the crops; Pete: known as the “Human Harvester”, does everything from tending the animals to working as a field hand; Dan: referred to as the “Utility Man”, he is in charge of the family Farmer’s Market; Luke: the “Brains of the Family”, is the only one of the family members to go to college; Sam: who likes to think that he is the “Big Man on Campus”, is determined to succeed, and is partially responsible for harvesting the crops; John: known as the “Joker” of the family – keeps the family entertained; Paul: very helpful and up for any challenge, is 100% committed to farming; and Ben: the youngest- works alongside his brothers. But it is really Lisa who has more energy than her ten children combined!
All the members of the family have a passion for locally grown produce and locally produced meats. On their Freedom Farms of some 200 acres located just outside the town of Butler, the King family raises chickens, cows and pigs – all pasture-raised and free of antibiotics and hormones. As well, they grow over 25 varieties of fruits and vegetables.
The family serves meals once a week to customers during the summer under a covered pavilion on one of their fields. Lisa prepares most of these meals. When asked how she has enough time to prepare such dinners, she replied: “I do this all the time. I am used to it. I have a large family and I come from a large family. It’s no different to cook for a dozen or dozens.” I look at her. With ten children and all the work she does, she still looks like she is a sister to her children. She truly exemplifies the saying “Hard work never killed anyone’.
We sit down to one of Lisa’s meals along with 150 paying-customers enjoying a delightful good-tasting dinner consisting of a cool rhubarb drink, liver pate, roasted chicken with lemon, balsamic-grilled asparagus, garlic potatoes, and two cobblers – one made with peaches and another with blueberries. Relishing the fresh farm food, I think of Lisa and her boys trying to bring what is best in America to visitors who travel this way. It was a fulfilling finale to our trip to this farm of hard work and fine home-cooked food, literally ‘from farm to fork’.
For More Information, Contact:
Freedom Farms: 795 Pittsburgh Road, Route 8, Butler, PA 16002; Tel: 724-586-5551; Website: www.freedomfarmspa.com
If planning a trip to Freedom Farms, visit www.freedomfarmspa.com/pages/plan-your-trip to obtain detailed information about activities during the year.