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Beefcakes put to use as marketing to help hawk vegetables, fruit

Mary Ann Thomas
| Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Fresh and friendly" is not just a slogan, but a way of life for the King brothers at their farmstands.

Visitors to markets in Allegheny and Butler counties can easily find the produce offered by the nine brothers who run Freedom Farms in Middlesex Township: it'll be the stand with women gathered around.

Several brothers -- twentysomething men in prime physical shape -- go shirtless to sell their vegetables at farmers' markets in Butler, Aspinwall, Carrick and, today, in Etna and Beechview from 3 to 7 p.m.

"They're like the Chippendales of Aspinwall," one woman, a frequent customer who wouldn't give her name, said this week.

The King brothers don't perform stripteases like that touring dance troupe, but they acknowledge their way of attracting customers does work.

"It's hot outside," said Pete King, 23, with a quick smile and toss of his blond hair. "It might help sales a little. Until people start complaining, we'll keep (the shirts) off."

The brothers grow 40 fruits and vegetables on 200 acres and typically bring a variety of produce to market. Many people prefer farm-fresh fare over the produce in supermarkets that traveled great distances to get to store shelves, they say.

"Cheaper isn't always better and they will pay for fresh, consistently available vegetables," King said.

In addition to taking their produce to town markets, the Kings own and operate a retail farmstand along Route 8 in Butler and Boldy's Homemade Goodies, about one mile north of the market.

"The bread-and-butter of the business are peaches, corn, tomatoes and peppers," King said.

Several of the brothers work in the fields daily, helping them to stay in shape and yielding the satisfaction of doing a job well.

"When I was younger, I didn't want to be a farmer," said Daniel King, 21. "Now over time, we learned to love it, just like my dad. He taught us that as hard as you work is what you're going to get out of it."

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