A Prodigal feast at Eastern Triangle Farm Tour

Farmer Dave Krabbe leads visitors through the dairy

The 5th annual Eastern Triangle Farm Tour was this past weekend, featuring a record 24 sites. While the Piedmont Farm Tour is larger, the Eastern version is growing yearly. Both are sponsored by the hard-working folks at Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

This year’s tour included eight new farms, and I volunteered at one of them, Prodigal Farm in Bahama/Rougemont in Durham County. It was a fun but tiring way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. I kept thinking, wow, if I’m this pooped after four hours, how in the world are the farmers holding up? Prodigal owners Kathryn Spann and Dave Krabbe led tours for about 125-plus people over the course of each day. That’s alongside their usual farm chores (which include milking 65 goats twice a day), selling at two farmers’ market, and doing all the other things farmers do. I get exhausted just thinking about it.

Goat nibbles farm intern. The boy in the background was back for a second day

We volunteers checked in visitors, led them to the dairy, and stationed the cheese sample and sales area. Two were farmers themselves, Johnny and Robin Blakley of Buffalo Creek Farm north of Winston-Salem, who make goat milk soap.

My favorite duty was walking people from their cars to the dairy, some three minutes away. My spiel went something like this: Farmers Kathryn and Dave moved here three years ago from New York City, though Kathryn grew up in Durham. They bought this old tobacco farm — it’s 97 acres. There’s the original farmhouse, from the late 1800s, which they plan to fix up some day. And here’s the old tobacco barn. (Imagine me pointing.) They bought a few goats to clear the brush and poison ivy and fell hard for them.

Farmer Kathryn Spann makes the cheese, too

There’s the dairy and cheese-making building. They just got their license to sell cheese two weeks ago, so they’re pretty excited. You’ll get a tour there and you get to visit with the goats. (This is when the kids get really excited.) We also have samples of goat cheese and some for sale. (This is when the adults get really excited.)

The last hour I worked the sample/sales station with Kathryn. By then they’d sold so much cheese that only a few choices were left — marinated feta and a chevre containing sweet and sour curry along with heirloom pear preserves. It was spectacular. Also available was her amazing chocolate goat-cheese cake. Delish.

Say cheese! Diane dispenses yummy samples

You can find Dave and Kathryn at Midtown Farmers’ Market at North Hills in Raleigh and the Hillsborough Farmers’ Market at the Home Depot. Look for Prodigal Farm cheeses in restaurants soon, as well. Eventually the farmers plan to hold some regular public tours. Until then, there’s always Eastern Triangle Farm Tour 2011.

Related posts:

This entry was posted in Durham County, Farmers' markets, Food, Goats and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Prodigal feast at Eastern Triangle Farm Tour

  1. Amy says:

    Awesome! Thanks so much Diane!

  2. Tom Kumpf says:

    As a former participant in the ETFT, I’m disappointed in the direction the tour is taking. It is not farms from the eastern triangle they are adding to the tour, rather, new farms that would make the Piedmont tour more crowded. This tour is growing into the Piedmont and not into the east. We are 20 minutes south of Raleigh, and our tour numbers haven’t changed in 3 years. Promotion of the event is terrible, thanks to Whole Foods’ inaction and lack of imagination. That is why we dropped out of the tour. I don’t think highlighting wealthy people who relocate from NYC to farm and take a vow of poverty all while dipping into a gigantic nest egg of money isn’t any way to promote “sustainable” agriculture. Rather, it just highlights the age old question, “how do you make a million dollars farming? Start with 2 million.” All this feel good, self serving agritourism is a real shame when people like me are working hard to farm and raise a family. Too many foodies are busy ooohing and ahhing over some rich persons goat farm or trendy farm to table restaurant and not paying attention to the hard work and skill that goes into growing real food and the associated costs that go along with it. Until some people wake up, and CFSA wakes up, we will not participate in the tour. Fair weather foodies are the worst thing for sustainable ag.
    Tom Kumpf

    • didaniel says:

      Hi Tom. I can appreciate your frustration and also your willingness to criticize the tour. I’ve found that in this food-farm world too many people walk on (free-range) eggshells. However, I don’t think there’s a need to knock any kind of farmer. We don’t know who has how much money and it doesn’t matter whether they’re from the boonies or the big city. But you know that. You’re just aggravated and I get that. However, I do want to mention that Kathryn Spann, in her short time back in Durham (where she grew up) has put in many hours as chair of the Durham Farmland Protection Board. She’s also working with lawyers to make it easier for small farmers to do their business. Also, she and her partner are in effect protecting 96 acres of farmland. So let’s cheer their great efforts, while at the same time examinging what CFSA and Whole Foods can do to better serve farmers out in your neck of the woods. It’s an important point, one that might get lost in a bitter stew.

  3. Tom Kumpf says:

    Your points are well taken, and I do sound disparaging. I’m also sure these people are nice and well intentioned. However, the most difficult thing is to be economically sustainable, and wealthy retirees or midlife career changers give the illusion (unintentionally I’m sure) that farming as a career is attainable. These are dangerous precedents. However, without inheriting farmland and equipment, 20 something people cannot get loans, have to buy equipment from operating budgets that are slim/small at best, and look at people like this as some sort of example. Our society/financial institutions are not quite ready to support farmers to the fullest extent. Perishable products are tricky to deal in, and wasted/unsold produce is lost income. Add to this the importance of raising the next generation of farmers (I have 3 boys), and you have a difficult scenario to play out.
    I’m always willing to turn a critical eye toward sustainable farming. We cannot always look at its halcyon glow and think everything is alright. Small scale, local farming disappeared for a reason, and the key to its re-emergence lies partly in those reasons. Thanks for your input.

    • didaniel says:

      Thanks for the follow-up, Tom. I relate to what you say personally because there are a lot of people who write you don’t really need to do it for a living. Writing as a profession is completely romanticized. Meanwhile, I’ve seen my newspaper/magazine income collapse in the past two years. But guess what? That’s life. We have to constantly reinvent ourselves. So I’d say that farming is a sustainable life and so is writing, for some. And there will always be people doing both as a hobby. I don’t see Prodigal in that camp at all, but even if they were, that’s their right. Furthermore it’s crazy to make assumptions of anyone. So let’s talk about what we can control — us. So, yes, I agree there is a “halcyon glow” around sustainable farming, and it’s great to hear experiences that speak more to the reality than the trend. So thanks for speaking up on that.