Prodigal Daughter Returns to Her Roots

[imgbelt img=20131031_prodigalfarm_shaena_mallett_0001.jpg] Kathryn Spann and Dave Krabbe moved from New York City back to Kathryn’s home state of North Carolina, where they bought a former tobacco farm and created a dairy full of love and goats.


Shaena Mallett

Claudia the goat grazes in the pasture at Prodigal Farm, October 31, 2013. In the background is one of a handful of empty school busses that the goats use for shelter and a place to climb.

There is a certain sensation I get while visiting an old farm. It is, perhaps, the residual feeling of many years and seasons of stories stored up in the soil and barns and in the air. This particular story is a newer one, about love, goats and finding the way home.

Just to the north of the bustling streets of Durham, North Carolina, the city melts into a landscape of woods, pastures and farmland. Go a few more miles and you’ll find Rougemont. Similar to much of the Piedmont, this community’s history is steeped in tobacco farming. Ninety-seven acres of land on a former tobacco farm is home to Prodigal Farm, owned and run by Kathryn Spann and Dave Krabbe.

South Durham Farmers’ Market. The market was established in Durham to connect emerging and established local farms offering healthy and affordable food to the surrounding community. It is one of few markets that require a visit to the farm to check for quality, safety and assurance that the goods are produced at the farm.

Animal Welfare Approved Certification for their herd. They are one of only two Animal Welfare Approved goat dairies in North Carolina.

The AWA program was founded in 2006 “as a market-based solution to the growing consumer demand for meat, eggs and dairy products from animals treated with high welfare and managed with the environment in mind,” according to the organization’s website. The certification holds independent farmers to rigorous standards of raising animals in pasture-based, humane and environmentally friendly systems.

Maintaining the certification takes a lot of work but is worth the effort, Kathryn said.

“Having the certification gets a dialogue going and it provides a space for mindfulness. I think one of the most important things is that it informs the public that there are radically different ways that people raise their animals, and it’s not all created equal. Even ‘local’ is not all created equal. Just because you find someone at the farmers market, it doesn’t mean they are all doing the same thing, or that they are doing what they say they are. The AWA certification is a way to insure that the people you’re buying from are doing what they say they are.  It’s a way to make our herd husbandry values a talking point.”