Durham County

Down on the farm: Blue Whistler Farm promotes market-to-table awareness

Rachael Riley; rriley@heraldsun.com

BAHAMA - Roosters crowed, pigs oinked and rabbits sniffed as 6-year-old Naomi Smith of Durham fed carrots to the furry creatures Sunday at Blue Whistler Farm.

“ I likes the rabbits best,” Naomi said. “I’ve never really been around them.”

Her mother, Brooke Smith, noticed through Facebook it was an open farm day and thought it would be a nice chance to out of the city limits.

“And who doesn’t like cute animals,” Brooke Smith said.

The Fargis family -- Jan, Brandon and Brandon’s sons 7-year-old Avery and 14-year-old Tyler -- shared similar opinions.

“We really pet everything,” Avery said. “I liked the baby rabbits and really wanted to hold one.”.

Jan Faris said the purpose of the outing was to be around the animals and to see “where the meat they eat comes from.”

Husband and wife team Josh and Amy Sliffe raise ducks, chickens, rabbits and pork minus any genetically modified organisms at 9923 N. Roxboro Road in Bahama.

Arriving from Missouri, they moved to the location with the intention of Amy Sliffe teaching horseback lessons, but also bought the 11 sheep and 30 hens that came with the farm, which is named after the Missouri state bird, or blue bird.

“Then we started eating real food and eating eggs that tasted like eggs, and realized that a lot of this stuff tastes a lot different than the stuff we’ve been eating our whole lives,” she said.

A self-proclaimed animal lover, Amy Sliffe read books, watched documentaries and listened to podcasts and “learned by doing,” -- having never raised farm animals prior.

“You learn what works best for each animal, and keep doing that,” she said. “And they turn out amazing and nutrient dense meat that tastes really different.”

The couple expanded the animals, processed them and now sell the meat at the Durham Roots Farmers Market, open farms day and rabbit and duck specifically to the Piedmont during the summer.

The concept for the open farm days is to allow customers to inspect what they consume and ask as many questions as the want, Amy Sliffe said.

“We explain the American food system to people, and we explain the difference,” she said. “They can actually see the difference and once they buy the product directly off the farm they taste it and lot of people say they absolutely will never go back.”

It’s a point that resonated with Durham residents Mallory and Travis Grissom, who met the farm’s owner at the fair and visited for the first time Sunday.

“I have a big respect for people who do this cause this puts foods on a lot of people’s table,” Travis Grissom said.

Mallory Grissom said the way most animals die in slaughterhouses is why the only meat the couple now consumes is fish.

“People are so desensitiized to where their meat comes from, so we have a lot of respect for this,” she said. “And if we did eat meat, we would buy it from a source like this for sure because they respect the animals.”

Blue Whistler Farm hosts open farm days the second and fourth Sunday each month, with the next set at 1 to 4 p.m. March 12.

The open days also feature neighboring farms and Common Kin Bakery items to purchase.