Rural Missouri - July 2017 - 8
Living the Good Life
Fayette century farm offers
rustic dining and wedding destination
Blue Bell Farm in Fayette, owned by Derek and Jamie Bryant, offer farm-to-table dinners and a unique wedding destination. The 300-acre farm is one of Missouri's oldest century farms.
by Porcshe N. Moran | email@example.com
Construction crews completed the farm's rustic chic event barn in May 2014.
They used reclaimed wood from the farm's old barn and a barn in Kansas City.
erek Bryant has fond childhood memories of visiting his grandparents at The gambrel structure has a honey-hued oak timber frame. Whitewashed pine
their 300-acre farm in the central Missouri town of Fayette. He recalls days covers the exterior and interior walls. It features an elegant grand hall, a loft
area, a bar, a bride's room and restrooms. On its west side, a spacious covered
spent ﬁshing, exploring the woods and shooting BB guns.
"As a kid who grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, it was amazing to patio offers a scenic view of the sprawling countryside. Blue Bell Farm's executive chef, Amanda Elliott, caters events using the barn's certiﬁed commercial
come to the farm and have so much open space to run around," Derek says.
As an adult, Derek has transitioned from playing on the farm to owning kitchen. Jamie and Derek host an average of 25 to 30 weddings in the barn each
and operating it. Derek and his wife, Jamie, moved to Fayette from St. Louis in year. The farm's modern updates encouraged the Bryants to change the name
January 2011. They took control of the property, now known as Blue Bell Farm, from Hollyhock to Blue Bell.
"We wanted a name that was more representative of what we are doing with
from Derek's late grandmother. Derek, Jamie and their daughter Lillian, live in
the original 1823 farmhouse. The Howard Electric Cooperative members are the the weddings and special events," says Jamie. "We drove past an antique store
in Wisconsin called Blue Bell. We also found a round, slate-blue bell in the old
seventh generation to oversee the land.
"The history of the farm is inspiring to me," says Jamie. "We fell in love with chicken coop. It just seemed like the perfect ﬁt for this new era on the farm."
The Bryants generate additional revenue for the farm by opening their doors
the beauty of the farm, and we wanted to keep it going."
Blue Bell Farm is one of Missouri's oldest century farms. It's been in Derek's to the public for parties that center around local food and drink. Chef Amanda
family since the early 1800s. His ancestors sold or gifted portions of the farm's prepares cuisine made with organic vegetables, cheese, eggs, meat and other
initial 1,000 acres for a schoolhouse, a church and cemetery. In 2008, Derek ingredients from Blue Bell and fellow mid-Missouri producers.
"Central Missouri is a great neck of the woods to grow food," says Derek.
and his mother began discussing the farm's future. His grandmother was hav"People would be surprised by what is here. There are so many great local
ing health problems, and she could no longer maintain the historic homestead. At the time, Derek was working as a project
producers. We love that Blue Bell Farm can act as a stage."
Jamie and Derek have organized several farm-to-table celebrations
manager for a commercial construction company in St. Louis.
"I am an only child, and my mom doesn't have any siblings,"
that commemorate everything from the change of the seasons to holisays Derek. "We were the only ones who could keep the farm alive
days such as Cinco de Mayo and Valentine's Day. On pizza and movie
and continue our family's legacy. We are lucky and fortunate that
nights, guests feast on homemade pizzas and desserts while enjoying
a ﬁlm under the stars. Yoga and local wine and food are the focus of
the farm is still here. It hasn't been destroyed over the course of
the farm's Vino and Vinyasas events. The Bryants' garden dinner
more than 100 years. It didn't feel right to sell it."
parties feature multiple courses of seasonal gourmet dishes, speDerek and Jamie visited the farm together while they were
cialty cocktails and Missouri-made wines and beers. They plate
still dating. Although they had no previous farming experience,
the meals or serve them family style on the barn's patio. Jamie
they were both interested in growing food and gardening. The pair
raised urban chickens at their home in St. Louis. They also were members
decorates the communal dinner table with candles and fresh ﬂowof a local chapter of the Slow Food USA organization. Jamie, a former interior ers. The intimate soirees often include live music, farm tours and bonﬁres.
"The public events are a way for us to keep using the barn outside of the
designer, did an apprenticeship at EarthDance Farms in Ferguson in 2010.
prime wedding season," says Jamie. "It's important for us to eat food that is
There, she got a hands-on introduction to organic agriculture practices.
"We always knew that we wanted to farm using organic methods," says safe for our daughter, and we want to offer that to our guests too. Local food is
Jamie. "EarthDance gave me a great overview of what organic produce farming fresher, tastes better and lasts longer. We want to support our community and
was like. We were taught how to use tools and market what we grew. We were keep dollars here."
The progress and potential at Blue Bell Farm is a source of excitement for
also given the opportunity to learn from other successful growers in the state."
For the past six years the Bryants have worked to revamp Blue Bell Farm's Jamie and Derek. They are striving to increase their vegetable production and
business model. They replaced the traditional crops with grass-fed and grass- end the use of paper and plastic products at their events. They hope to eventuﬁnished South Pole beef cattle. They hired Laura Korte, a sixth-generation ally butcher their livestock on-site so that the animals don't have to leave the
farmer, to manage the herd. The cattle provides non-GMO beef with no added farm for processing. They've also tossed around the idea of beekeeping.
"There are so many things that we want to do," says Derek. "We are trying
hormones or antibiotics. The Bryants also added pasture-raised laying hens
and a one-acre vegetable and herb garden. The couple uses plastic greenhouses to close the loop on the farm so that what is produced here is also consumed
that look like high tunnels to grow food earlier and later in the season regard- here. We are trying to eliminate waste as much as possible. We hope to be good
less of the weather. All the vegetables produced at Blue Bell Farm are free from stewards in keeping the farm going. Our goal is to be able to pass it down to our
artiﬁcial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
"We wanted to keep the farm, but didn't know how to farm," says Derek.
For more information about Blue Bell Farm go to www.bluebellfarm.org, email
"Small family farms are at a turning point in terms of ﬁguring out how to stay
relevant. We had to entertain other ideas to make a living and to keep the farm firstname.lastname@example.org or call 660-888-6011.
ﬁnancially solvent. We are unique in that we have been able to stay small while
Moran is a freelance writer from California, Missouri.
RURAL MISSOURI | JULY 2017