Durham County

BACK TO THE LAND: Families enjoy kids and goats at open farm day

Rachael Riley; rriley@heraldsun.com

ROUGEMONT -- Jodie LaPointe and Norah Weymouth, 7, bought goat cheese at the Durham Roots Farmers Market on Saturday to buy goat cheese, and on Sunday they saw where the cheese came from.

The pair were among a crowd of several hundred on Sunday at Prodigal Farm’s open farm day.

“I think it’s neat to make the connections when you see the cheese in a store but then you come here and see the goats and see the farm and how they make the cheese,” LaPointe said.

As Norah stood near the clanking hammer of Randy Stoltz of the Triangle Blacksmiths Guild, Norah said she liked the goats the best.

Kat Spann, owner of Prodigal Farm, 4720 Bahama Road, Rougemont, said one of the reasons for hosting six open farm days a year is so children can think about farming as a career path.

“Now, very few people even know a farmer, let alone getting out into the country, and we’re trying to create more urban-to-rural connections and we want people to see and come to value rural spaces,” Spann said.

Spann grew up in Durham, then practiced law in New York for 12 years before purchasing the 95-acre farm with her partner, Dave Krabbe, in 2007.

Operations have expanded to raising and caring for their goats in an open pasture, milking them, culling some for meat, processing goat cheese, selling it retail through farmers’ market participation, wholesale distributing to retailers and restaurants in the Triangle and shipping products to as far as New York and California.

“We believe is raising animals humanely, and I’m a big believer in show it, don’t tell it,” she said.

“So if people come to meet an animal, they can start to value the reasons why you would want to treat it humanely and why you would in turn want to buy animals or buy meat or milk from a farm that treats their animals humanely.”

Durham resident Carol Hammett brought 8-year-old Megan and 12-year-old Chris to the farm for the first time with a neighbor who learned about the event on Facebook (bit.ly/1q0BIXt).

“We learned about goats and that goats are picky eaters,” Chris said.

Spann said goats mainly feed in the woods or the pasture, which is planted with clover and grass, so they’re not confined to eating just one thing.

Petting the frolicking goats in the pasture Sunday were Durham County residents Kevin McHugh and Charlotte Dunn.

“We got to meet some great goats, tasted some mead, talked to the blacksmith guys for a while, Made some s’mores -- it’s a great day,” McHugh said.

Durham residents Mary Carol Howell, Chris Howell and Max Feiler toured the farm Sunday because Mary Carol Howell likes goats and noticed emails from her neighborhood email group mentioning it in the past.

“They’re just funny,” Howell said of why she likes goats. “ I don’t know -- I like animals, so anything with animals. They’re just funny creatures. So it’s nice to come back to a farm and get away from the city every once in awhile.”

Chris Howell and Max Feiler are both originally from California

“We were talking about how Southern this feels to where you get just a bunch of people together … and there’s locally made alcohol, locally made cheese, local made metalwork and huge fields,” Feiler said.

Regulator Brewing Co., Honeygirl Meadery and Amy Sliffe are all local business owners who were at Sunday’s event.

“Open farms are critical to getting people to eat real food again, and so when people can come in and see how their food is raised and who’s raising it and see that the animals are happy and healthy. That’s a good thing, said Sliffe, who hosts open farm days at her Blue Whistler Farm at 9923 N. Roxboro Road, Bahama, the second and fourth Sundays of each month.

EDITOR’S NOTES: For more information about Prodigal Farm and Blue Whistler Farm, visit prodigalfarm.com and bluewhistlerfarm.com online.