BIRTHDAY: July 4, 1983
JOB TITLE: Owner/Partner Freedom Farms
Joe’s current responsibility for the business includes managing the books, labor, investments, assets, and debt. He uses his knowledge and experience to help his
partners, family, and employees plan and execute tasks in an efficient manner.
To be as self sufficient as possible. I feel that the more control we have of our product in all stages of its development, starting with the soil composition of our fields, the better we can protect ourselves from corrupt political regulations and corporate greed.
Our goal is to provide the local region with the highest quality product as possible for a reasonable price. We take pride in providing quality food fresh from our fields.
What would you be doing for a living if not a farmer?
I like to think that if I wasn’t a farmer, I would be successful in another profession. I graduated Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in engineering so I think I would still be a project engineer, living the corporate lifestyle and commuting to work. More precisely, I would be a line item in a capitalist world and able to be terminated without thought of the value and commitment I possess if it meant increased profit. Though I loved my work as a geotechnical engineer, I would not have been happy or fulfilled as a tax paying citizen living in the current state of the government. It disturbs me to see so many people losing their passion in life by working a job to pay the bills. It is consistently getting more difficult to stay afloat as a small business owner because of the ever increasing overhead costs from unneeded government policing and regulations, not to mention politicians’ greed. People are forced to work for corporations that have very little value for life and liberty, with all the focus on how much profit gets to the 1%. My parents were able to teach me that with hard work and deep sacrifice, I could break free from the corporate grind and chase my dream with my brothers and become successful in any state of the market.
What do you enjoy about farming?
I love the freedom I have to create a quality product through hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and lots of love. The freedom to know where my food is coming from and the pride I get in the harvest of that food. I love the complexity of knowledge needed for success in agriculture. Farming is not, or rather should not be an industrial industry. Simplicity and standardization only leads to disease and poor quality. Farming is a dynamic science. Complexity and diversity is demanded when it comes to the quality of the food my family eats. As farmers, we are the stewards of the beautiful harmony of nature. Man cannot build something as complex as life is in its natural state, but I feel that we can guide it to its potential.
What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t farming?
I love to learn new things. Life is so much more fulfilled when you can be inspired to work towards your full potential. I love to read about new ways to look at things in general but mostly new ways to be more efficient in our work as farmers. I have participated in many activities that I have found both profound and rewarding in different ways. I have built a fire from wood that I cut down myself, I camped out for a week living off the land, jumped off a waterfall, tamed a wild horse, rode a bull (for just barely eight seconds,) fished for crab in Oregon, I went snowmobiling in Canada, water skied, snow skied, rock climbed, made my own beer and wine, hunted for my own food, piloted a plane, flipped a house, surfed, went white water rafting, and witnessed the birth of my two beautiful children.
What are some traits you feel are important to your work as a farmer?
I think that I am a problem solver, a hard worker, and I feel confident that I can accomplish anything that I focus my energy on. Also, I love success on any level.
What are some of your fondest or strongest memories of growing up on a farm?
It was early spring and I was nearly eight. My father was planting corn. We had just finished preparing the ground for planting and it was starting to get dark. It had been a beautiful day and like most Pennsylvania spring days, the likelihood of rain by the next morning was promising. It was important to get the corn in right then so my father made the decision to work into the night. We had two tractors in the field with us but only one had lights on it. He could have planted the corn, took the tractor back to the barn, got a ride with my mother back to the field and followed her headlights back to the barn again. Instead, he dropped the tractor in neutral after his last past and jumped off. “You’ve driven this tractor before and you know what to do so take it home and park it in the machinery shed.” Immediately I thought of the biggest hurdle in completing a task like that and voiced my concern about driving up one of the largest and steepest hills in the area. If the tractor’s motor bogged down while climbing the hill and I didn’t properly downshift at the right moment I would get stuck on the hill with a stalled motor or worse, get stuck holding the brakes of a running motor out of gear. This could be a seriously dangerous situation for me and for anyone who happened to be on the road at that particular moment. In response he said, “Don’t worry Joe, just downshift the tractor to first gear when you get to the hill and run it wide open, you could pull a house up that hill if you needed to.” And with those few words spoken with complete confidence, I began my 3 mile journey home. I did just what he said, I downshifted as soon as I reached the bottom of the hill. My blood was pumping through my veins so fast I could hear it as I was holding the throttle wide open with the motor screaming at me. I was probably going a half mile an hour but it felt like I was taking the world’s first airplane off the ground. I made it to the top very slowly and then back to the barn feeling important and able. As I silenced the motor I felt like I had won a gold metal in the Olympics. It helped that both my siblings and mother had come over to relish in my accomplishment. I could feel the pride my adoring audience had for me. In later years I experienced childlike giggles inside as I thought of how slow I was going and how easily I could have, and did in later years, made it up that same hill. Looking back I remember how proud I had been that my father had trusted in my abilities to drive the tractor by myself. I remember how good it made me feel to see in my mothers face and the deep pride she had in my accomplishments and the confidence she had in my abilities. I was always working with my parents and I am so thankful for that. They were, in a way, investing in not only their future but my future as well by not sitting me in front of a television to distract me from their absence. I could fill a book with my fondest memories of my childhood growing up on my parents’ farm. You can be sure that none of them are muddied with cheap entertainment from Kennywood, video games, candy, allowance, or friends’ parties. Even though I would have loved any of those activities at the time, I recognize that my time in the fields built my strong character. None of them would have made me feel the way I felt when I stalked and killed my first deer, or got back on the horse that bucked me off, or even the lessons learned while playing cowboys and Indians with my brothers. It is amazing what a child can accomplish, both within their self and in the world before the age of fifteen with the help of demanding, stern, disciplining, but loving and supporting parents. I feel like one of the worst things a parent can do for their child is to overprotect them. Life is a struggle. Without trial and error, children can’t learn to take care of themselves. If they don’t make the errors while they are still dependant and while someone is there that can pick them back up, they are forced to bare the consequences in their adult life.
What are your favorite things about your brothers/partners?
I love their passion and work ethic. Whatever they do, they do it to the best of their abilities, and they are usually one of the best at it! We have a bond that is both strong and deep because it was formed from working and having each others back for twenty some years. Their personalities and interests have changed countless times over the years, but I have always enjoyed their company and companionship. I am proud to be their partner in business and their brother in life.