News

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Posted 8/16/2018 7:08pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News  

Last night’s rain dump of over a half inch in one hour reset the humidity dial to high and the intensity of vegetative green from dull to blinding.  The timing was perfect for our garden’s newly germinated seedlings of kale, carrots, chard and broccoli rabe.  While irrigation coaxes the tiny plants out of the soil, a good soaking rain pushes them upward toward the light with gusto.  The timely precipitation will help the pasture recover as well.  The goats were on the verge of running out of interesting things to eat, but the drench should sprout more of the young shoots they so love.  Food equals milk equals cheese; this is my mantra these days.

Today, I left the farm for the big city. Normally, Wes takes our cheese to wholesale customers in Chicago, but it was my turn today.  Having grown up in big cities, I find that I need to pull my city mindset from the recesses of my brain.  It is very much a part of my being, but it has been usurped by my farmer persona.  I have become accustomed to our big-sky, flat and open-space landscape; the tallest protrusions are the trees lining our creek to the east and the towering soybean plants to the west.  I have become complacent with the absence of traffic in our town. I don’t think twice about not locking our doors, or leaving our keys in our cars (anyone who might want to take some of our junkers is most welcome).  So, the two-hour journey north to the big city gives me time to shift personas.

Since the truck can practically drive itself to Chicago (Wes makes deliveries every Thursday), I allow my mind to wander as I pass familiar milestones along interstate 57; the expansive tree nursery near Onarga, the beautiful historic red barn on the Brockman Family Farm north of Gilman, the weave of the Illinois Central railroad tracks that parallels the highway from time to time.  The radio keeps me company; I can listen more intently to the public radio shows I normally have on as background noise at the farm.  Crossing the Kankakee River, I typically lose the signal from our local AM public radio station and switch the dial to Chicago’s FM station.  Passing the turn-off to interstate 80 (the east west highway that many Chicagoans consider the dividing line between their world and the rest of the state of Illinois to the south), the traffic intensifies and the corn fields give way to concrete.  I reconnect with my inner-city driving skills—like riding a bike, I have not lost my touch to lane weave. 

As I-57 ends and I-90/94 begins, the skyscraper skyline appears on the horizon.  At this point, the traffic usually slows, and I brace myself for the typical stop and go that is endemic to city driving.  I consider myself lucky if I don’t have to slow below 50 mph.  Once I make my first exit, the challenges of pedestrians and drivers co-mingle.  The “NO PARKING” signs become suggestions to the myriad of other delivery trucks parked in bus lanes.  I just put the flashers on, act like a local and unload my cheese cargo onto a cart placed strategically on the side walk.  The cheese beneficiaries act happy to see me. Chivalrously, they hold the door open or even carry the 25 pound tubs into the shop for me.  With lightning speed, the first transaction is complete, and I’m back in the truck, planning my next set of turns and stops. 

The small delights come from finding the perfect parking spot or breezing through stretches of highway normally clogged with traffic.  One of my customers offers me lunch (chefs do that with farmers—so generous). Before I know it, I’m back in the truck, heading south, pining for the openness that awaits me south of I-80. 

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program: This week’s text club special relates to goat milk feta. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings

This Saturday’s forecast for Urbana is warm and sunny. Come early to the market to get first dibs on the best of the summer’s bounty. Our feta is back:  so many options for using it with market fruits and veggies.  We’re running our “Moonglo Flight” special for one more weekend, so if you missed it last weekend, you’ve got one more shot. Here’s the deal: Buy all four of our Moonglo variations (described below) and take 20% off the total sale price. If you buy three out of the four, we’ll take 10% off. 

Here’s the cheese line up for Saturday:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Goat Milk Feta: watermelon, heirloom tomatoes—they’re begging for a salty, tangy crumbled feta to adorn them. Our feta is aged in a whey brine for 1-2 months; it’s tangy, crumbly and perfect for summer salads.
  • Plain Goat Milk Yogurt: we have fresh supply of plain, whole-milk yogurt from Green Meadows Farm that we’re bringing to market. They have made a special batch for us that is just milk and live cultures (no thickeners). 
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is modestly ripe, with a slightly gooey edge along the rind.  Flavor is buttery, milky and slightly mushroomy.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is aging nicely, with hints of cream and mushroom.  It could be sliced into rounds, lightly breaded and pan-fried for topping a bed of fresh greens.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is ripe, and it has a wonderful firm yet gooey consistency, a slight goat tang and a hint of yeastiness on the rind. 
  • Blushing Goat: our take on a washed rind cheese—these little rounds are washed with a kombucha beer for about a month.  These blushing pink-orange beauties have a dense fudgy paste with a rich umami flavor. Limited availability this week.
  • Moonglo:  Our first spring milk batches of this raw milk tomme (sort of like a gouda, but not really) are making their debut at the market and in the farm store. The spring milk produces a lighter, tangy paste with hints of pineapple. The texture of the cheese is a bit more firm than fall milk batches.
  • Applewood Smoked Moonglo: our friends at Urbana’s Black Dog Smoke and Ale House cold-smoked our Moonglo cheese over Applewood chips; the result is a lovely smoky version of our Moonglo. Like our regular Moonglo, it makes a killer grilled cheese (that’s what Black Dog is doing with it at their Urbana location).
  • Chipotle Chile Rub Moonglo: fall-milk Moonglo wedges with top & bottom rinds removed and chipotle chile powder-olive oil rubbed onto the exterior of the cheese; slightly spicy, nice smoky finish. 
  • Malted Moonglo: how about a little beer in your cheese? We made an experimental batch of Moonglo with beer added to the curds before they were pressed into the molds. The cheese has a slightly sweet, malty character.  We think it’s delicious.
  • Pelota Roja: our special (and very limited) Manchego-style goat cheese with guajillo chile rub on the rind. We have a few wedges of this cheese for retail as most it goes to the Frontera Grill-Topolobampa restaurants in Chicago.  Perfect grating-style cheeses, with nutty notes and gentle heat from the chile rub. 
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination).

Gelato: We’ve been making lots of gelato and fruit-based sorbettos with all the great local ingredients we have available at this time. We also made a very special (and limited) batch of Pistachio gelato (pure Sicilian pistachio paste). This is a premium flavor @ $12/pint.   I encourage you to bring a cooler with ice packs to the market to keep your gelato in tip top shape as you travel from the market to your home.

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Buttered Pecan (made with Voss Orchard Pecans, Carlyle IL)
  • Blueberry-Chevre (made with blueberries from Pitcher-Patch Farm in Makanda IL)
  • Pistachio Gelato
  • Fresh Mint
  • Peaches & Cream (made with our very own peaches from the PFFC orchard)
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (with nectarines from Mileur Orchard)
  • Peach Sorbetto (with peaches from PFFC)
  • Apricot Sorbetto (made with Apricots from Klug Farm in MI-very limited this week)
  • Sweet Corn Gelato (made with Babb Farms’ sweet corn)

If you don’t know already: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

Starting September 1st, we will be shortening our open hours. Take advantage of the extended hours before summer is gone. Now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is beautiful this time of year—lush with plant and animal life alike. Come out after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a stick of salami (Underground Meats) or a jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips or Central IL Bake-house baguette bread and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato? Need to de-stress?

Come visit with the goats. They love to be petted, even in the warm weather.  Shop in our farm store: “The Real Stand.” We’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co., pickled veggies and pesto by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more. Back in the store this week:  goat milk yogurt by Green Meadows Farm and end of summer sweet corn from Babb Farm. 

U-PICK: U-picking is suspended until further notice.  We hope to have enough apples and maybe pears for u pick later in August. Peaches were just not that plentiful this year.

Farm Dinners: Fall season is not far away, and the September and October farm dinners are filling up fast.  I encourage you to book your tickets now. We have two versions of our 100 Yard Dinner this year: a progressive meal around the farm in mid-September and “ploughman’s feast” style meal in October; menus forthcoming. 

We have added a beer dinner with Half Acre Brewery for Saturday, October 6th. We’ll likely be serving some beer-cheese collaborations, so you won’t want to miss this one if you love micro-brews.

Upcoming Farm Events

Thursday, August 23rd, 5-7 pm “Wine tasting with Michael” Michael Darin, our resident wine guy, will be pouring some easy-drinking summer reds from our wine portfolio.  These reds are light and nuanced and pair well with our bloomy rind cheeses.  Some of the wines to be featured include: Lovegrass Shiraz (Australia), Argiolas Costera (Sardinia), Tarapaca Gran Reserva Organica (Chilean blended red) and Valle Real Montepuciano de Abruzzo (Italy). Michael is always informative and entertaining.  A good time will be had by all. Make a night of it and order a build-your-own cheese board while you’re here too. Please RSVP to our Facebook event so we know how many folks to expect:   https://www.facebook.com/events/235013683815265/

Night of the Living Farm Tuesday, August 28th 7:30 or 8:00 pm start time (will depend on sunset) Join entomologists Dr. Michael Jeffords, Susan Post, and Dr. Joe Spencer from the Illinois Natural History Survey, for a unique exploration of the insects and other creatures that call Prairie Fruits Farm home. As the skies darken, Michael will give a short program on creatures of the night, followed by black-lighting to attract insects from the surrounding landscape. Insects from mayflies to moths are likely to make an appearance.

As soon as the sky is sufficiently dark, we will explore the surrounding forest and prairie with miniature spotlights to see and experience Arthropod activity seldom witnessed. Everything from giant wolf spiders to munching caterpillars to charming tree frogs will likely appear in our flashing beams. We will charge a nominal fee of $10/person (includes a scoop of gelato).  We now have a registration page for this event on our website:   http://www.prairiefruits.com/store/special-events

CU Symphony Orchestra to perform special “environmental” pieces on our farm on Sunday September 23rd, 2-4 pm. Visit Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery for a free gelato social and concert from 2:00 to 4:00 pm on Sunday, September 23 to celebrate Mother Earth's summer harvest! This tribute to our planet will feature musicians from the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra performing several earth-themed chamber works by CUSO Composer-in-Residence Stacy Garrop. PFFC owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband will bring us the latest news about their sustainability efforts on the farm.

Take a tour of the farm, visit the goats, and participate in our "Messages to Gaia" community art project--where you can draw pictures, write poetry or simply share your thoughts about our planet. Come enjoy! This free gelato social is sponsored by CUSO, New Music USA, and Prairie Fruit Farms & Creamery.   


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

Posted 8/9/2018 9:34pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

By mid-August, the windows of opportunity to make drastic changes to the farm have started to close.  The waning days of summer are no time to shift course or add another enterprise on top of those in play.  No, this is the time of maintaining, of resigning oneself to let go of the possible and nurture the actual.

The heat and drying soils make late summer plantings of fall greens and carrots a challenge.  The lack of fruit set on the fava beans forebodes a paltry harvest. The invasion of Colorado potato beetles on our late-planted potatoes suggests fewer potatoes to be dug in a few weeks.  There’s a sense of urgency to harvest the crops at hand and preserve what we’ve got.  There are resignations to embrace the abundance of beets and pickling cucumbers and stop fretting over green tomatoes not turning colors. 

The lushness of the pasture is fleeting as well. We struggle to keep the does in front of high quality pasture and browse to keep their milk production from tanking. We become obsessed with giving them opportunities to keep their heads buried and their mouths munching.  Every quarter inch on the measuring stick in the bulk tank is either small victory or back set. 

goats in cottonwood stand

There’s a gradual shift in the mindset of managing the farm and the land in mid- August.  Farming overall is a constant tug of war between thinking you can manage everything to realizing you can manage only a few things, and sometimes the farm manages you.  Although the tropical breezes still blow, the days are imperceptibly shorter, and you know that peak of abundance has crested. It’s best to embrace it; give in to the change. 

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  

This week’s text club special relates to gelato. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings –Try a “flight” of Moonglo cheese this weekend

This Saturday’s forecast for Urbana is warm and sunny. Come early to the market to get your weekly fare of locally-grown goodness and beat the crowds. The market is brimming with summer bounty-peaches, melons, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplants, berries, and lots of delicious goat dairy products from yours truly.  Feta is still on summer vacation, but will be back in the line-up next weekend.

We have gone a bit crazy with variations on Moonglo of late, so we’re offering a special deal on a flight. Buy ALL FOUR versions of Moonglo and get 20% off the total price. Here’s the cheese line up for Saturday:

Moonglo cheese flight

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Plain Goat Milk Yogurt: we have fresh supply of plain, whole-milk yogurt from Green Meadows Farm that we’re bringing to market. They have made a special batch for us that is just milk and live cultures (no thickeners). 
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is modestly ripe, with a slightly gooey edge along the rind.  Flavor is buttery, milky and slightly mushroomy.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is aging nicely, with hints of cream and mushroom.  It could be sliced into rounds, lightly breaded and pan-fried for topping a bed of fresh greens.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is ripe, and it has a wonderful firm yet gooey consistency, a slight goat tang and a hint of yeastiness on the rind. 
  • Moonglo:  Our first spring milk batches of this raw milk tomme (sort of like a gouda, but not really) are making their debut at the market and in the farm store. The spring milk produces a lighter, tangy paste with hints of pineapple. The texture of the cheese is a bit more firm than fall milk batches.
  • Applewood Smoked Moonglo: our friends at Urbana’s Black Dog Smoke and Ale House cold-smoked our Moonglo cheese over Applewood chips; the result is a lovely smoky version of our Moonglo. Like our regular Moonglo, it makes a killer grilled cheese (that’s what Black Dog is doing with it at their Urbana location).
  • Chipotle Chile Rub Moonglo: fall-milk Moonglo wedges with top & bottom rinds removed and chipotle chile powder-olive oil rubbed onto the exterior of the cheese; slightly spicy, nice smoky finish. 
  • Malted Moonglo: how about a little beer in your cheese? We made an experimental wheel of Moonglo with beer added to the curds before they were pressed into the molds. The cheese has a slightly sweet, malty character.  We think it’s delicious.
  • Pelota Roja: our special (and very limited) Manchego-style goat cheese with guajillo chile rub on the rind. We have a few wedges of this cheese for retail as most it goes to the Frontera Grill-Topolobampa restaurants in Chicago.  Perfect grating-style cheeses, with nutty notes and gentle heat from the chile rub. 
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination).

Gelato:

We’ve been making lots of gelato and fruit-based sorbettos with all the great local ingredients we have available at this time. We also made a very special (and limited) batch of Pistachio gelato (pure Sicilian pistachio paste). This is a premium flavor @ $12/pint. I encourage you to bring a cooler with ice packs to the market to keep your gelato in tip top shape as you travel from the market to your home. Remember: $10/pint or 3 for $27 (except for pistachio).

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Buttered Pecan (made with Voss Orchard Pecans, Carlyle IL)
  • Blueberry-Chevre (made with blueberries from Pitcher-Patch Farm in Makanda IL)
  • Sicilian Pistachio Gelato
  • Fresh Mint
  • Peaches & Cream (made with our very own peaches from the PFFC orchard)
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (with nectarines from Mileur Orchard)
  • Peach Sorbetto (with peaches from PFFC orchard)
  • Apricot Sorbetto (made with Apricots from Klug Farm in MI)
  • Sweet Corn Gelato (made with Babb Farms’ sweet corn)

If you don’t know already: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

Now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is beautiful this time of year—lush with plant and animal life alike. Come out after work to unwind.

During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a stick of salami (Underground Meats) or a jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips or Central IL Bake-house baguette bread and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato?

Need to de-stress? Come visit with the goats. They love to be petted, even in the warm weather.  Shop in our farm store: “The Real Stand.” We’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co., pickled veggies and pesto by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more. Back in the store this week:  goat milk yogurt by Green Meadows Farm and end of summer sweet corn from Babb Farm. 

U-PICK: U-picking is suspended until further notice.  We hope to have enough apples and maybe pears for u pick later in August. Peaches were just not that plentiful this year.

Farm Dinners: Fall season is not far away, and the September and October farm dinners are filling up fast.  I encourage you to book your tickets now. We have two versions of our 100 Yard Dinner this year: a progressive meal around the farm in mid-September and “Ploughman’s Feast” style meal in October; menus forthcoming.  We will be adding a couple of other special dinners this fall too (a beer dinner with Half Acre Brewery on October 6th for sure).

Upcoming Farm Events

Thursday, August 23rd, 5-7 pm “Wine tasting with Michael” Michael Darin, our resident wine guy, will be pouring some easy-drinking summer reds from our wine portfolio.  These reds are light and nuanced and pair well with our bloomy rind cheeses.  Some of the wines to be featured include: Lovegrass Shiraz (Australia), Argiolas Costera (Sardinia), Tarapaca Gran Reserva Organica (Chilean blended red) and Valle Real Montepuciano de Abruzzo (Italy). Michael is always informative and entertaining.  A good time will be had by all. Make a night of it and order a build-your-own cheese board while you’re here too. Please RSVP to our Facebook event so we know how many folks to expect:   https://www.facebook.com/events/235013683815265/

Back by Popular Demand (by ME!): Night of the Living Farm Tuesday, August 28th 7:30 or 8:00 pm start time (will depend on sunset) Join entomologists Dr. Michael Jeffords, Susan Post, and Dr. Joe Spencer from the Illinois Natural History Survey, for a unique exploration of the insects and other creatures that call Prairie Fruits Farm home. As the skies darken, Michael will give a short program on creatures of the night, followed by black-lighting to attract insects from the surrounding landscape. Insects from mayflies to moths are likely to make an appearance. As soon as the sky is sufficiently dark, we will explore the surrounding forest and prairie with miniature spotlights to see and experience Arthropod activity seldom witnessed. Everything from giant wolf spiders to munching caterpillars to charming tree frogs will likely appear in our flashing beams. We will charge a nominal fee of $10/person (includes a scoop of gelato).  We now have a registration page for this event on our website:   http://www.prairiefruits.com/store/special-events

CU Symphony Orchestra to perform special “environmental” pieces on our farm on Sunday September 23rd, 2-4 pm.

Visit Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery for a free gelato social and concert from 2:00 to 4:00 pm on Sunday, September 23 to celebrate Mother Earth's summer harvest! This tribute to our planet will feature musicians from the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra performing several earth-themed chamber works by CUSO Composer-in-Residence Stacy Garrop. PFFC owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband will bring us the latest news about their sustainability efforts on the farm. Take a tour of the farm, visit the goats, and participate in our "Messages to Gaia" community art project--where you can draw pictures, write poetry or simply share your thoughts about our planet. Come enjoy! This event is sponsored by CUSO, New Music USA, and Prairie Fruit Farms & Creamery.   


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

Posted 8/2/2018 9:56pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

September in July; days not even breaking a sweat over 80, nights dipping below 60; there has been a strange crispness to the air of mid-summer.  The need for a sweatshirt to do the morning chores felt out of place.  The quiet air of the barns without fans seemed almost decadent.  The sudden drop in temperatures was a welcome respite from the previous weeks of extreme heat and humidity. 

While the farmers were rejoicing, the goats were taking environmental cues.  Sudden changes in temperature stirred their dormant breeding hormones into action.  When they start cycling into heat, they exhibit a few telltale signs.  Like a bunch of high school girls with too much time between classes, their cliquishness becomes accentuated.  Small groups pick fights with a doe close to their rank in the dominance hierarchy.  Others decide to engage in one-on-one tete-a-tete girl spats. Some of the does’ udders become so sensitive they jump when you try to put the milking inflations on them.  Others wail on their way out to the pasture as they pass by the paddock with the breeding bucks.

Their milk production suffers a bit too, as their resources are reallocated to other priorities.  We need them to keep their milk production up.  We are nowhere near ready for them to put their minds on procreation.  The forecasting return to summer temperatures is bittersweet.  The farmers will sweat, but the goats will return to more “normal” summer pursuits: eating pasture and making milk. 

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program: This week’s text club special relates to huckleberry blue. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings  

Summer is back. This Saturday’s forecast for Urbana is warm and sunny. So, come early to the market to get your weekly fare of locally-grown goodness. The market is brimming with mid-summer bounty-peaches, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplants, berries, and lots of delicious goat dairy products from yours truly. Here’s the cheese line up for Saturday:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is perfectly ripe, bordering on gooey this weekend.  Nice delicate rind with hints of mushroom.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is aging nicely, with hints of cream and mushroom.  It could be sliced into rounds, lightly breaded and pan-fried for topping a bed of fresh greens.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is perfectly ripe, and it has a sublime fudgy almost gooey consistency, a slight goat tang and a hint of yeastiness on the rind. 
  • Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese.
  • Applewood Smoked Moonglo: our friends at Urbana’s Black Dog Smoke and Ale House cold-smoked our Moonglo cheese over Applewood chips; the result is a lovely smoky version of our Moonglo. Like our regular Moonglo, it makes a killer grilled cheese (that’s what Black Dog is doing with it at their Urbana location!)—LIMITED OFFERING THIS WEEK
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination).

Gelato: We’ve got a good quantity of with gelato and sorbetto this week.  I encourage you to bring a cooler with ice packs to the market to keep your gelato in tip top shape as you travel from the market to your home.

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Mint
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Buttered Pecan (made with Voss Orchard Pecans)
  • Peaches & Cream (made with our very own peaches from the PFFC orchard)
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (with nectarines from Mileur Orchard)
  • Peach Sorbetto (with PFFC peaches)
  • Sweet Corn Gelato (made with Babb Farms sweet corn)

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

Now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a stick of salami (Underground Meats) or a jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips or baguette bread and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! We have lots of shades spots in the grass too.  Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato?

Need to de-stress? Come visit with the goats. They love to be petted, even in the warm weather.  Shop in our farm store: “The Real Stand.” We’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co., pickled veggies and pesto by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more. Next week, we'll be bringing back goat milk yogurt by Green Meadow Farm in Arthur. Look for it in our store fridge starting next Wednesday, August, 8th. 

NEW in the Store! Fresh sweet corn from Babb Farms. Their corn is tender and sweet, and ready for your grill or stock pot.

U-PICK: We were picked clean on peaches last weekend. So, U-picking is suspended until further notice. 

Farm Dinners

We have a few seats left for our “Summer Vegetarian” farm dinner on August 18th (just 3-4 tickets remain).  The menu is on our website and it’s fantastic; I encourage you to book your tickets now. The farm is gorgeous in the summer, there usually is a breeze and it’s a magical place to enjoy a hyper-local farm-to-table meal.  While you’re on our website, check out the themes and dates for the fall. We have two versions of our 100 Yard Dinner this year: a progressive meal around the farm in mid-September and “ploughman’s feast” style meal in October. 

Upcoming Farm Events

Thursday, August 23rd, 5-7 pm “Wine tasting with Michael” Michael Darin, our resident wine guy, will be pouring some easy-drinking summer reds from our wine portfolio.  These reds are light and nuanced and pair well with our bloomy rind cheeses.  Some of the wines to be featured include: Lovegrass Shiraz (Australia), Argiolas Costera (Sardinia), Tarapaca Gran Reserva Organica (Chilean blended red) and Valle Real Montepuciano de Abruzzo (Italy). Michael is always informative and entertaining.  A good time will be had by all. Make a night of it and order a build-your-own cheese board while you’re here too. Please RSVP to our Facebook event so we know how many folks to expect:   https://www.facebook.com/events/235013683815265/

Back by Popular Demand (by ME!): Night of the Living Farm Tuesday, August 28th 7:30 or 8:00 pm start time (will depend on sunset) Join entomologists Dr. Michael Jeffords, Susan Post, and Dr. Joe Spencer from the Illinois Natural History Survey, for a unique exploration of the insects and other creatures that call Prairie Fruits Farm home. As the skies darken, Michael will give a short program on creatures of the night, followed by black-lighting to attract insects from the surrounding landscape. Insects from mayflies to moths are likely to make an appearance.

As soon as the sky is sufficiently dark, we will explore the surrounding forest and prairie with miniature spotlights to see and experience Arthropod activity seldom witnessed. Everything from giant wolf spiders to munching caterpillars to charming tree frogs will likely appear in our flashing beams. We will charge a nominal fee of $10/person (includes a scoop of gelato).  We now have a registration page for this event on our website:   http://www.prairiefruits.com/store/special-events

CU Symphony Orchestra to perform special “environmental” pieces on our farm on Sunday September 23rd, 2-4 pm. Their composer in residence, Stacy Garrop, wrote these pieces to celebrate “Gaia,” mother earth.  Details to follow; for now, save the date.   


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

Posted 7/27/2018 12:29pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Farm News

The folks from Half Acre Brewery in Chicago paid us a visit yesterday.  They already knew that chees and beer play well together as food and beverage, but they did not expect to get intimate with the microbes and the milk.  After touring the creamery, we laid out a panorama of cheese “experiments” to share with them.  From adding beer to curds to washing or soaking cheese in beer and wine, we had a lot to taste and stories to tell. 

For those whose livelihoods revolve around fermentation, it is easy to dive deep into discussions about cheese microbes and beer microbes and how they might interact. Do they compete? Does one group provide a favorable environment for the others to thrive? Which flavors will predominate over time? What about those funky chemical compounds in the hops? How do cheese styles affect the microbial ecology? It is always enlightening for us to bring experienced palates to expand our own sensory awareness.

Like two cultures derived from the same mother tongue, we rejoice in the common denominators of our respective crafts and marvel at the differences.  The culmination of the visit occurred when it was time to pour the coffee stout beer (“Big Hugs”) into the cultured & renneted milk.  We had only tried this on a very small scale batch, so not even the cheese makers quite knew what to expect in full vat of milk.  We explained the process of milk’s conversion from liquid to gel once the rennet is added (technically called ‘flocculation’), and they stared patiently over the quieted milk for several minutes to watch the spinning stop and the milk begin its transformation to curd; yet another magic trick up the cheese maker’s sleeve.

As I bid farewell to our brewery friends (after their goat petting therapy session), my next set of visitors pulled into the driveway in a yellow school bus—nearly 20 7-10 year-old city boys.  They spilled out of the bus stairs with the exuberance of kids who had been sitting for way too long.  My plans to give them our standard guided tour gave way to realization that these kids just needed to play with our “kids.” So, after a very brief intro to the farm, peppered with lots of questions about the dogs, the chickens, the peaches and the flies, we trotted off to the kid barn.

The children exchanged initial introductions with a few goat kids through the fence, and then I let several kids inside the pens with the goats. Initially, I metered the child to goat kid ratio, but after they discovered the doorway to the outside goat “jungle gym,” I threw caution to the wind, and let all the children in with the goat kids.  The similarities overwhelmed the differences; both our kids and their kids ran back and forth between the inside pen and outside play structures, both kids and kids yelled with a mixture of excitement and fear.  The city kids forgot about the flies and the goat poop and the smells. The goat kids chased the city kids and vice versa.  Several of the children would update me on who was their favorite goat or their new best friend.  A couple of the goat kids would return to the pen and look to me for reassurance.  With their time on the farm drawing to a close, the city kids left the goat pen reluctantly. The power of youth and play is universal and crosses the arbitrary boundaries of species.

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  This week’s text club special relates to fresh ricotta. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings –Diversity is the theme this week

This Saturday’s forecast for Urbana is cool and sunny. So, there are no excuses to put off coming to the market to get your weekly fare of locally-grown goodness. The market is brimming with mid-summer bounty-peaches, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplants, berries, and lots of delicious goat dairy products from yours truly. Here’s the cheese line up for Saturday:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh, whole milk ricotta: our last of the season ricotta is amazing with grilled stone fruit and a drizzle of honey or your favorite balsamic reduction. We made a lot, but it will go fast. Come early to get as much as you want.
  • Goat Milk Feta: Summer is “feta season!” We make our feta with pasteurized milk and age it in whey brine, imparting all the wonderful complex flavors you’ve come to expect from our feta.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is perfectly ripe, bordering on gooey this weekend.  Nice delicate rind with hints of mushroom.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is aging nicely, with hints of cream and mushroom.  It could be sliced into rounds, lightly breaded and pan-fried for topping a bed of fresh greens.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is perfectly ripe, and it has a sublime fudgy almost gooey consistency, a slight goat tang and a hint of yeastiness on the rind. 
  • Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese.
  • Applewood Smoked Moonglo: our friends at Urbana’s Black Dog Smoke and Ale House cold-smoked our Moonglo cheese over Applewood chips; the result is a lovely smokey version of our Moonglo. Like our regular Moonglo, it makes a killer grilled cheese (that’s what Black Dog is doing with it at their Urbana location!).
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination).
  • INTRODUCING a new cheese: “Blushing Goat” This little washed rind cheese is bathed in wash of kombucha beer for a little over one month.  The result is a vibrant rind, slightly sweet & salty paste with a hint of beer on the finish.  Try a slice on a baguette drizzled with honey OR a perfectly sliced heirloom tomato drizzled with olive oil.  LIMITED AVAILABILITY THIS WEEK.

Gelato: We’ve got a good quantity of with gelato and sorbetto this week.  I encourage you to bring a cooler with ice packs to the market to keep your gelato in tip top shape as you travel from the market to your home.

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Mint
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Buttered Pecan (made with Voss Orchard Pecans)
  • Thai Basil (very limited)
  • Peaches & Cream (made with our very own peaches from the PFFC orchard)
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (with nectarines from Mileur Orchard)
  • Peach Sorbetto (with peaches from Mileur Orchard)
  • Lemon Sorbetto

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

Now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a stick of salami (Underground Meats) or a jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! We have lots of shades spots in the grass too.  Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato?

Need to de-stress? Come visit with the goats. They love to be petted, even in the warm weather.  Shop in our farm store: “The Real Stand.” We’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co., pickled veggies and pestos by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more. 

NEW in the Store! Fresh sweet corn from Babb Farms. Their corn is tender and sweet, and ready for your grill or stock pot. Try it Mexican style with a chipotle mayo and crumbled feta cheese.

U-PICK: We have enough peaches to offer some U-pick opportunities this weekend. You can come out to the farm during our regular farm store hours, and we’ll show you where to pick.

Farm Dinners

 We have a few seats left for our “Summer Vegetarian” farm dinner on August 18th.  The menu is on our website; I encourage you to book your tickets now. The farm is gorgeous in the summer, there usually is a breeze and it’s a magical place to enjoy a hyper-local farm-to-table meal.  While you’re on our website, check out the themes and dates for the fall. We have two versions of our 100 Yard Dinner this year: a progressive meal around the farm in mid-September and “ploughman’s feast” style meal in October. 

Back by Popular Demand (by ME!): Night of the Living Farm Tuesday, August 28th 7:30 or 8:00 pm start time (will depend on sunset) Join entomologists Dr. Michael Jeffords, Susan Post, and Dr. Joe Spencer from the Illinois Natural History Survey, for a unique exploration of the insects and other creatures that call Prairie Fruits Farm home.

As the skies darken, Michael will give a short program on creatures of the night, followed by black-lighting to attract insects from the surrounding landscape. Insects from mayflies to moths are likely to make an appearance. As soon as the sky is sufficiently dark, we will explore the surrounding forest and prairie with miniature spotlights to see and experience Arthropod activity seldom witnessed. Everything from giant wolf spiders to munching caterpillars to charming tree frogs will likely appear in our flashing beams. We will charge a nominal fee of $10/person (includes a scoop of gelato).  We now have a registration page for this event on our website:   http://www.prairiefruits.com/store/special-events

CU Symphony Orchestra to perform special “environmental” pieces on our farm on Sunday September 23rd, 2-4 pm. Their composer in residence, Stacy Garrop, wrote these pieces to celebrate “Gaia,” mother earth.  Details to follow; for now, save the date.   


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

Posted 7/19/2018 9:44pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

 Farm News

As we took stock of the fruit set and the sizing of the peaches a couple of weeks ago, it was hard to hold down the disappointment.  Our Red Havens, usually flush with pinking peaches, barely had any fruits. Our Harrow’s Beauty, another robust variety with soft-ball sized peaches, had none.  The Reliance (aptly named) have a respectable crop, as do the Belle of Georgia (a later ripening white variety). 

ripe peaches

This week, as the confluence of heat and humidity swirled around the ripening globes, their color went from pale yellow-chartreuse to reddish yellow.  Their vibrancy against the back drop of the shiny green peach leaves is eye popping.  As we enter into the season of peach harvest, I am drawn back to a poem one of our patrons sent me a few years ago.  I thought I would share it.

From Blossoms”

From blossoms comes This brown paper bag of peaches

we bought from the boy

at the bend in the road where we turned toward

signs painted peaches.

from laden boughs, from hands,

from sweet fellowship in the bins,

comes nectar at the roadside, succulent

peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,

comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,

to carry within us an orchard, to eat

not only the skin, but the shade,

not only the sugar, but the days, to hold

the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into

the round jubilance of peach.

These are days we live

as if death were nowhere

in the background, from joy

to joy to joy, from wing to wing,

from blossom to blossom to

impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

By Li- Young Lee

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  Given that we basically got rained out at the market last week, I am running the gelato special again for our text fans. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings –Cheese is an easy meal in the hot weather

This Saturday’s forecast for Urbana is cool (relatively speaking), with a slight chance of showers. Let’s hope the second part of the forecast holds off for the morning. Even if we get a little of the wet stuff, just don your raincoat or carry an umbrella. The silver lining to those cloudy skies is that you won’t have to wait in long lines to get all that peak of the summer produce!

Here’s the cheese line up for Saturday:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Goat Milk Feta: Summer is “feta season!” We are now making our feta with pasteurized milk. It’s still aged in whey brine, imparting all the wonderful complex flavors you’ve come to expect from our feta.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is perfectly ripe, bordering on gooey this weekend.  Nice delicate rind with hints of mushroom.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is still young, but has nice flavor.  It could be sliced into rounds, lightly breaded and pan-fried for topping a bed of fresh greens.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is perfectly ripe, and it has a sublime fudgy consistency, a slight goat tang and a hint of yeastiness on the rind. 
  • Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese.
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination).

INTRODUCING a new cheese: “Blushing Goat” This little washed rind cheese is bathed in wash of kombucha beer for a little over one month.  The result is a vibrant rind, slightly sweet & salty paste with a hint of beer on the finish.  Try a slice on a baguette drizzled with honey OR a perfectly sliced heirloom tomato drizzled with olive oil. 

Gelato: We’ve got a good quantity of with gelato and sorbetto this week.  I encourage you to bring a cooler with ice packs to the market to keep your gelato in tip top shape as you travel from the market to your home.

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Mint
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Buttered Pecan (made with Voss Orchard Pecans)
  • Thai Basil
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (with nectarines from Milleur Orchard)
  • Peach Sorbetto (with peaches from Milleur Orchard)
  • Lemon Sorbetto

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours Now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm.

The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a stick of salami (Underground Meats) or a jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! We have lots of shades spots to get you out of the hot sun.  Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato?

Need to de-stress? Come visit with the goats. They love to be petted, even in the warm weather.  Shop in our farm store: “The Real Stand.” We’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co., pickled veggies and pestos by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more. 

NEW in the Store! Fresh sweet corn from Babb Farms. Their corn is tender and sweet, and ready for your grill or stock pot. 

 U-PICK: We have enough peaches to offer some U-pick opportunities this weekend. You can come out to the farm during our regular farm store hours, and we’ll show you where to pick.

Farm Dinners: Believe it or not, we still have a few seats left for our “Southern Style Seafood Boil” and our “Summer Vegetarian” farm dinners.  The menus are posted on our website; I encourage you to book your tickets now. To sweeten the pot (the boiling pot that is), we're teaming up with Moon Grove Farm (a new farm B&B) to offer out-of-town guests special rates for the July 21st Farm Dinner. Check out their deals. The farm is gorgeous in the summer, there usually is a breeze and it’s a magical place to enjoy a hyper-local farm-to-table meal.   

Back by Popular Demand (by ME!): Night of the Living Farm Tuesday, August 28th 7:30 or 8:00 pm start time (will depend on sunset)

Join entomologists Dr. Michael Jeffords, Susan Post, and Dr. Joe Spencer from the Illinois Natural History Survey, for a unique exploration of the insects and other creatures that call Prairie Fruits Farm home. As the skies darken, Michael will give a short program on creatures of the night, followed by black-lighting to attract insects from the surrounding landscape. Insects from mayflies to moths are likely to make an appearance. As soon as the sky is sufficiently dark, we will explore the surrounding forest and prairie with miniature spotlights to see and experience Arthropod activity seldom witnessed. Everything from giant wolf spiders to munching caterpillars to charming tree frogs will likely appear in our flashing beams.

We will charge a nominal fee of $10/person (includes a scoop of gelato).  We will be creating an event page on Facebook and a registration page. For now, just save the date.   


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

Posted 7/12/2018 10:36pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Farm News

The little savannah to the north of our log house has a fair number of dead or dying trees in it. Some died from old age; others succumbed to frequent standing water.  The birds had taken advantage of the rotting trunks and limbs for some time now; feasting on the insect larvae that hide beneath the flaking bark, and making nests in the hollowed out cavities.  As much as we have loved providing habitat for mostly vagrant starlings, cow birds and house sparrows (not really), we finally decided to cut these dead trees down.

In the past, the highest use for dead trees on our property has been fire wood. This year, with a number of the deceased being cherry, walnut and maple, we decided to hire in a professional sawyer, a guy with a cowboy hat who comes to the farm with a portable saw mill.  He showed up bright and early on one of the hottest days of the week, and set up his mill in short order. Erica hauled the logs to the mill deftly with the skid steer, while Wes and Erica’s dad (he had to get in on the latest crazy scheme at Prairie Fruits Farm) help to hoist the logs on the feeder belt of the mill. 

The sawyer, operating the levers as if they were his hands, maneuvered the log with enviable dexterity to position the saw blade to cut exactly how he wanted it.  He first had to trim off the limb knobs off the main trunk so the log would be level.  Then, he would flip the log onto the flat side so he could cut the planks into perfect slabs.  By mid-afternoon, we had a wagon-full of beautifully grained and somewhat oddly shaped planks of wood. 

Erica manning the skid steer

Erica manning the skid steer with logs

loading the log onto the saw mill

loading the log onto the saw mill

beautiful planks

We’ve grown or raised a lot of quirky things over the years at Prairie Fruits Farm; josta-berries, marion berries, wheat, guinea fowl and Muscovy ducks to name a few. Here on the prairie, while I’ve treasured our little shaded haven of savannah, I never would have dreamed that we would derive another product from it.  We can now add timber to our repertoire.  I can’t wait to see the beautiful grains in the wood when we slather on some mineral oil. 

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  This week’s market special involves gelato. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings –Cheese is an easy meal in the hot weather

I know that many folks are reluctant to cook elaborate meals in the heat of summer. That’s why I recommend a simple meal of cheese and accompaniments. The beauty of this approach is that you can mix and match cheeses with assorted jams, honeys, salamis, hams, pickled or raw veggies and fresh fruit.  Add your favorite beer, wine or iced tea, and your meal is complete.  Most of our cheeses work well with a simple salad too—fresh greens or an heirloom tomato medley. 

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—so versatile, so delicious. Put it on or in everything you can find from the market this weekend.
  • Goat Milk Feta: Summer is “feta season!” We are now making our feta with pasteurized milk. It’s still aged in whey brine, imparting all the wonderful complex flavors you’ve come to expect from our feta. With the arrival of the first sweet corn, creamy-crumbly feta is in order. I make a chipotle mayo, slather that on my roasted sweet corn, crumble some feta, roll the cob in the cheese and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Trust me!
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is perfectly ripe, bordering on gooey this weekend.  Try grilling it for a few minutes. Then, serve with a local honey or a tart jam.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is very young.  It could be sliced into rounds, lightly breaded and pan-fried for topping a bed of fresh greens.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is ripening nicely, and it has a sublime fudgy consistency, a slight goat tang and a hint of yeastiness on the rind.  Try pairing with spicy dry-cured salami or a local honey.
  • Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try it on crusty bread with onion jam or caramelized onions. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese.
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination). This cheese is ONLY available directly from us—no wholesale buyers have this cheese right now.
  • INTRODUCING a new cheese: “Blushing Goat” This little washed rind cheese is bathed in wash of kombucha beer for a little over one month.  The result is a vibrant rind, slightly sweet & salty paste with a hint of beer on the finish.  Try a slice on a baguette drizzled with honey OR a perfectly sliced heirloom tomato drizzled with olive oil. 

Gelato: We’re flush with gelato this week.  I encourage you to bring a cooler with ice packs to the market to keep your gelato in tip top shape as you travel from the market to your home.

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Mint
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Buttered Pecan (made with Voss Orchard Pecans)
  • Thai Basil
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (with nectarines from Milleur Orchard)

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

Now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a salami (Underground Meats) or jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips and we’ll provide the board.

You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! We have lots of shades spots to get you out of the hot sun.  Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato?

Need to de-stress? Come visit with the goats. They love to be petted, even in the warm weather.  Shop in our farm store “The Real Stand.” We’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co., pickled veggies and pestos by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more. 

NEW in the Store! Fresh sweet corn from Babb Farms. Their corn is tender and sweet, and ready for your grill or stock pot. As I mentioned in my description of feta above—this combo is a MUST!

grilled sweet corn

Our peaches are finally starting to color, so U-pick is not too far off. Stay tuned.

Upcoming Events at the Farm

Saturday July 14th, 5-7 pm Delight Flower Farm Open House and Guided Tours  Delight Flower Farm rents land from us, and they are opening their space up to show folks all the beautiful flowers they are growing.  Reservations required. We are keeping our farm store open that night so visitors can shop in our farm store or grab a cheese board and a glass of wine or beer.

Farm Dinners

There are still plenty of seats for our “Southern Style Seafood Boil” and our “Summer Vegetarian” farm dinners.  The menus are posted on our website, so I encourage you to book your tickets now, before they sell out. To sweeten the pot (the boiling pot that is), we're teaming up with Moon Grove Farm (a new farm B&B) to offer out-of-town guests special rates for the July 21st Farm Dinner. Check out their deals. The farm is gorgeous in the summer, there usually is a breeze and it’s a magical place to enjoy a hyper-local farm-to-table meal.   


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

Posted 7/5/2018 6:42pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

I put on a mindset for working in extreme heat.  I tell my mind that I like to sweat, that sweating is nature’s air conditioning.  I wear my drenched clothing like a badge of honor; a testament to the work accomplished.  The normally simple tasks of feeding the goats, dumping out and cleaning the water troughs, sorting out the hay stems and replenishing their hay rarely provoke a dampened brow under “normal weather conditions. 

When the early morning temperatures are already above 75 degrees, and the mercury is soaring toward the mid 90’s, I am resigned to my face flushed and dripping at the onset of chores. I convince myself that, as the days of high heat & humidity accumulate, my body has adapted, and my endurance becomes more bearable. Once covered in sweat, I rationalize that is easier to just stay outside and continue to work.  Why not pull a few weeds in the garden, harvest some raspberries or check on the ripening tomatoes? Soon, it will be time to check the water troughs again and make sure the fans are working in the barns.

The goats do not sweat, so they pant, like dogs.   It turns out that conformation (how their bodies are put together) matters when it comes to susceptibility to heat stress.  I have noticed that the stockier does (mostly La Mancha and La Mancha crosses) with large heads and short necks are the first to pant or park themselves in front of the fans in the barn. Their earless character does them no favors either. The Nubians lose heat through their long floppy ears, a remnant adaptation from their north African heritage.  The long-necked Nubians seem almost unfazed by the extreme heat. They gallop to the prairie for browsing after the morning milking, and resist the signal to head back to the barn when the herder says it’s time to go. The herder squirts cold water from his/her water gun into the mouths of those does who solicit a cold drink.  The heat stressed does welcome a dousing from the water hose, their normal revulsive reflex at getting wet overridden by their desire to get cool.  

I have come to realize that those who have grown up in climates with dry summers have lower tolerance of what we affectionately call “the heat index.”  It’s the combination of heat and humidity that fights with the body’s attempts at evaporative cooling.  Wes, having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, describes this weather as suffocating.  He claims a feeling of drowning under the heat and humidity.  While I too desire the reprieve of an air-conditioned house, my childhood of hot & humid east-coast city summers with no air conditioning have primed my body to persevere. 

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  This week’s market special involves another one of our cheese & beer experiments. We’re pretty pleased with how this little washed rind cheese turned out. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings –Cheese is an easy meal in the hot weather

If you’ve decided to take a holiday from the heat of the kitchen, why not grab a few of our cheeses and make a simple cheese board to enjoy on your deck or patio (or even in the luxury of your air-conditioned home).  If you want to fancy it up, here’s a really simple fig-chevre recipe. Believe it or not, you can find locally grown fresh figs at the Urbana Farmers’ Market (Cary’s Garden has them if you get there early).

Warm Figs with Goat Cheese, Pistachios and Balsamic Glaze  

Warm figs with goat cheese, pistachios and balsamic glaze. Fresh figs are cut open with goat cheese and pistachios placed inside. They are then baked until warm and come served drizzled with balsamic glaze. https://culinaryginger.com/warm-figs-with-goat-cheese-pistachios-and-balsamic-glaze/

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—so versatile, so delicious. Put it on or in everything you can find from the market this weekend.
  • Goat Milk Feta: Summer is “feta season!” We are now making our feta with pasteurized milk. It’s still aged in whey brine, imparting all the wonderful complex flavors you’ve come to expect from our feta. With the arrival of the first sweet corn, creamy-crumbly feta is in order. I make a chipotle mayo, slather that on my roasted sweet corn, crumble some feta, roll the cob in the cheese and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Trust me!
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is perfectly ripe this weekend.  Try grilling it for a few minutes. Then, serve with a local honey or a tart jam.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is firm and tangy.  It could be sliced into rounds, lightly breaded and pan-fried for topping a bed of fresh greens.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is ripening nicely, and it has a sublime fudgy consistency and a hint of yeastiness on the rind.  Try pairing with spicy dry-cured salami.
  • Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try it on crusty bread with onion jam or caramelized onions. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese.
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination). This cheese is ONLY available directly from us—no wholesale buyers have this cheese right now.

Gelato:  Flavors of gelato pints are limited for this weekend.  I encourage you to bring a cooler with ice packs to the market to keep your gelato in tip top shape as you travel from the market to your home.

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Stracciatella (chocolate ganache “chip)
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Fruitti di Bosco (mixed berry-all local strawberries, raspberries and blueberries)

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

Now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a salami (Underground Meats) or jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! We have lots of shades spots to get you out of the hot sun.  Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato?

De-stress by visiting with the goats. They love to be petted, even in the warm weather.  Shop in our farm store “The Real Stand.” We’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co., pickled veggies and pestos by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more. 

Upcoming Events at the Farm

July 12th, 5-7 pm “Wine Tasting with Michael” We’ll be featuring some refreshing Italian whites—Costamolino from Sardinia, a Venetian Pino Grigio and a rose (Sera Lori) from Sardinia.  We’ll uncork a few bottles of Spanish Cava too.  Michael is informative and lots of fun.  You won’t want to miss this one. $10 for the tasting; all wines are $7/glass.

July 12th, 6-8 pm “Weed Dating at Delight Flower Farm” The Land Connection’s popular event for singles who like to get dirty is back.  We are co-hosting the event with TLC and Delight Flower Farm. Take a break from pulling weeds and do our wine tasting while you're here.

July 14th, 5-7 pm Delight Flower Farm Open House and Guided Tours  Delight Flower Farm rents land from us, and they are opening their space up to show folks all the beautiful flowers they are growing.  Reservations required. We are keeping our farm store open that night so visitors can shop in our farm store or grab a cheese board and a glass of wine or beer.

Farm Dinners: There are still plenty of seats for our “Southern Style Seafood Boil”, our “Cheesy Affair” and our “Summer Vegetarian” farm dinners.  The menus will be posted soon, but I encourage you to book your tickets now, before they sell out. The farm is gorgeous in the summer, there usually is a breeze and it’s a magical place to enjoy a hyper-local farm-to-table meal.   

To sweeten the pot (the boiling pot that is), we're teaming up with Moon Grove Farm (a new farm B&B) to offer out-of-town guests special rates for the July 21st Farm Dinner. Check out their deals. 


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

Posted 6/29/2018 10:17am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

This past week, while one of our cheese makers was on vacation, I stepped back into the daily routines of making cheese. The singular focus on transforming milk to curds and whey was a welcome respite from my current routine of juggling five or six disparate tasks aimed at keeping the farm afloat.  The seemingly tedious tasks of setting up vats, transferring milk, ladling curds, washing dishes, washing tomme-style cheeses and scrubbing floors provide dignity and a sense of accomplishment.

A typical day in our creamery starts sometime between 7:00-7:30 in the morning.  Our head cheese maker, Lynn, has already worked out the hard part of juggling cheese make schedules, so we know our general game plan at the day’s onset. The first person in the creamery goes through the opening procedures of checking room temperatures and humidity levels, making sure all of the equipment is working, preparing sanitizer for use throughout the day and cleaning work surfaces. 

Then, we set up the cheese vat to receive milk, and the milk is slowly pumped from the bulk tank.  There is a bit of art in the simple act of transferring milk. The trick is to engage the pump just enough to get the milk to flow slowly, but not too fast so the milk gushes.  Goat milk fats and proteins are fragile, and when the milk is overly agitated, the disruption of fats and proteins can produce off flavors. 

Milk is the perfect medium for growing microbes, both good and bad. Cleaning all of the places where milk flows is an integral part to running a successful farmstead creamery.  There is a very prescribed, multi-step procedure to ensure that no traces of milk or milk components remain on stainless steel surfaces.  A creamery is no place for a cavalier dish washer.  To the contrary, those who thrive as cheesemakers have borderline obsessive-compulsive tendencies. 

The ebb and flow of the day vacillates from time sensitive tasks (culturing, renneting, cutting curd, ladling curd) to those that need to be done by the end of the day (packing chevre, wrapping cheeses, washing tommes, cleaning aging rooms, washing dishes).  Full immersion in the quotidian tasks of moving milk, cleaning and tending to the aging cheeses provides time for the mind to wander.  It provides time for sleuthing as well.  Most of the greatest joys and frustrations of running a small, farmstead creamery relate to the changes of the seasons, and really the daily changes in milk.  As the more routine tasks are mastered, the cheese makers’ obsessions relate to understanding how the milk “behaves” in and out of the cheese vat, and following the threads that might explain differences from batch to batch.   The duality of milk and environment in flux and constancy of routine are what fuel the cheese maker and what substantiate the sense of a job well done. 

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program 

This week’s market special involves two limited offering special cheeses. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings –Stock Up on Cheese and Gelato for the Holiday Week Ahead

Next Wednesday is the 4th of July, so why not come to the market this Saturday to stock up on picnic staples (cheese & gelato in my book).  We have a couple of special cheeses for you this weekend. We’ve also got some new gelato flavors you need to try. It’s going to be VERY hot this weekend, so come early to the market to beat the heat and get the best selections.

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—so versatile, so delicious. Put it on everything you can find from the market this weekend.
  • Fresh ricotta: Our Italian basket-style goats’ milk ricotta is delicate and mild. It’s the perfect foil for fresh berries and local honey or a quick summer pasta of grilled summer squash and mushrooms.  Very limited offering, so come early to the market.
  • Goat Milk Feta: Summer is “feta season!” We are now making our feta with pasteurized milk. It’s still aged in whey brine, imparting all the wonderful complex flavors you’ve come to expect from our feta. With salad season upon us (and soon the arrival of sweet corn), creamy-crumbly feta is in order.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is almost perfectly ripe this weekend.  Try grilling it for a few minutes. Then, serve with a local honey or a tart jam.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is firm and tangy.  It could be sliced into rounds, lightly breaded and pan-fried for topping a bed of fresh greens.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is ripening nicely, and it has a sublime fudgy consistency and a hint of yeastiness on the rind.  Try pairing with spicy dry-cured salami.
  • Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try it on crusty bread with onion jam or caramelized onions. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese.
  • Market Special: APPLEWOOD-SMOKED MOONGLO:  Our friends at Black Dog Smoke & Ale House graciously smoked a few wheels of our Moonglo with Applewood chips. The result: a deliciously smoky firm and complex cheese.   We think it’s pretty great, and it pairs well with sliced fruit—try it with first of the season market peaches.  Very limited offering, so come early. 
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination). This cheese is ONLY available directly from us—no wholesale buyers have this cheese right now.

Gelato:  We are back to a full supply of gelato pints for this weekend.  Nothings says Independence Day celebration than pie with a scoop of ice cream (gelato is ice cream after all). Here are the flavors this week:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Stracciatella (chocolate ganache “chip)
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Mint Chocolate Chip (made with fresh “chocolate mint” leaves)
  • Fruitti di Bosco (mixed berry-all local strawberries, raspberries and blueberries)
  • Cucumber-Lime-Mint Sorbetto (very refreshing, more like an “Italian ice” in texture)
  • Blueberry Sorbetto (made with southern IL blueberries from Pitcher Patch Farm)

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

Now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a salami (Underground Meats) or jar of jam or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! We have lots of shades spots to get you out of the hot sun. 

NOTE: For Wednesday, July 4th we will be open from 3-6 pm to give folks time to get to fireworks. 

If you just want to come out to do a little shopping in farm store, we’ll have cheese and scoops of gelato as well as other farmer products: locally milled whole wheat flour from The Mill at Janie’s Farm, meats, poultry eggs from Bane Family Meats, Piemonte Sausages and Jams from Autumn Berry Inspired and Prairie Fruits Farm “merch.”

Check out the new products by Sarah Stewart (our former gelato maker); pickled ramps, pickled shitake mushrooms, pickled yellow summer squash, fermented green garlic in brine and spring pestos (frozen--green garlic-pistachio and wild ramp). 

Mark your calendars for our next summer “Wine Tasting with Michael event—Thursday, July 12th, 5-7 pm. Michael will be pouring a few featured wines from our portfolio of organic and biodynamic wines. We’ll feature a lovely white and a rose from Sardinia, a Spanish Cava (bubbly), as well as a few lighter reds that pair well with our bloomy rind cheeses.

We also are hosting a couple of upcoming events with Delight Flower Farm and The Land Connection.  You can get more information about these either from Delight Flower Farm or TLC:

  • Sunday, July 1st, 6:30-8:00 pm: Kombucha with Flowers Workshop-Delight Flower Farm
  • Thursday, July 12th, 6:00-8:00 pm: Weed Dating (Delight and The Land Connection are organizing this event)
  • Friday, July 13th, 7:00-8:30 pm: Summer Flower Arranging—Delight Flower Farm

Dinners on the Farm: Our 2018 season is underway and guests are enjoying fabulous meals served under the roof of our new pavilion. Summer is a great time to enjoy dining outside at the farm. We have some fantastic themes for summer “A Southern Style Seafood Boil,” “A Cheesy Affair” (with guest chef from Pastoral Appellation Wine Bar) and “Summer Vegetarian” (with guest chef Dan Compton of Vie Restaurant). Hurry; tickets are going fast.

Plan a get-away weekend in Central IL this summer: If you’re thinking about coming to one of our farm dinners this summer (or fall for that matter), and you’re coming from far away, why not make a weekend of it? We are partnering with Moon Grove Farm, a new farm B&B located in Mahomet (only 20-25 minutes’ drive west of our farm) to offer a special package deal with our July 21st Southern Style Seafood Boil Dinner. Stay tuned for details. 

Do you dream of having goats in your life?  Do you want a family milk goat? How about for brush control or rural pet? Goats are wonderful working animals and affectionate companions too. We have great breeding stock with excellent health and milk records.  We have doelings for future milking. We also have retired does, bucklings and wethers for grazing/brush control and companion animal needs. Check out what's available (we have pictures on our Facebook page) and contact us if interested. 


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

Posted 6/21/2018 9:52pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Today is the vernal equinox, the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.  Our skies have been prematurely darkened by waves of water-laden thunder clouds. Their billowy blackness could easily be confused with mountain peaks if it weren’t for the fact that you can see the storms rolling in from miles away. 

We need the rain, some of it anyway.  The recent deluges have fueled an explosion of growth in the garden. Everything is germinating or flowering or setting fruit. We already have baby peppers and green tomatoes.

I’ve let the native milkweeds take hold in the herb garden these past couple of years, and this year they have become a little “milkweed forest.”  Their strong thick stems tower toward the sun, supporting audacious pink flower clusters. Their scent is intoxicating, attracting a gaudy band of insects, dappled in alerting oranges and reds to signal the toxic brew coursing through their bodies. 

The milkweed forest beckons the female monarch butterflies. We have watched them circle the patch, taking stock of the quality of the leaves.  Signaling their approval, they flutter and hover around the leaves’ undersides, in search of the perfect spot to lay their eggs.  Soon, there will be baby monarch caterpillars taking bites out of our milkweed forest. I will allow them to selectively harvest the forest so they will grow. Eventually they will spin their chrysalises to become the butterflies that will migrate south. Their offspring, in turn, will return to our farm, to our little milkweed forest, to repeat the cycle and perpetuate their ties to our prairie landscape.

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  

This week’s market special involves black goat and beer.  To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings

All three bloomies-Angel Food, little bloom on the prairie and black goat-- are plentiful and slightly young this week. Try some of our feta or fresh chevre on a market greens salad this week or grab some of our discounted Moonglo wedges.

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—so versatile, so delicious. Put it on everything you can find from the market this weekend.
  • Goat Milk Feta: Summer is “feta season!” We are now making our feta with pasteurized milk. It’s still aged in whey brine, imparting all the wonderful complex flavors you’ve come to expect from our feta. With salad season upon us (and soon the arrival of sweet corn), creamy-crumbly feta is in order.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is young but headed in a very good direction.  Try warming it slightly in the oven or over the grill for 5-10 minutes. Then, serve with a local honey or a tart jam.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this new batch of Angel Food is firm and tangy.  It could be sliced into rounds, lightly breaded and pan-fried for topping a bed of fresh greens.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is young, ripening nicely, and it has a sublime fudgy consistency and a hint of yeastiness on the rind.  Try pairing with spicy dry-cured salami.
  • Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try it on crusty bread with onion jam or caramelized onions. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese. Again this week, we have a batch with soft rinds, so we’re running a special--$5/lb. off the regular price.  Ask for a taste—all you have to do is cut off the rind, and enjoy the delicious cheese within.
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination). This cheese is ONLY available directly from us—no wholesale buyers have this cheese right now.

Gelato:  Gelato pints are limited this week, but we will be back in full force the weekend before July 4th.  For now, here’s what we have:

  • Vanilla (very limited)
  • Chocolate (limited)
  • Stracciatella (chocolate ganache “chip”-very limited)
  • Cucumber-Lime-Mint Sorbetto
  • Fresh Lemon Sorbetto

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours Now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a salami or jar of jam or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips and we’ll provide the board.

You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! NOTE: This Friday, June 22nd, we will be closing early (6:00 pm) because we have a private event at the farm. 

If you just want to come out to do a little shopping in farm store, we’ll have cheese and scoops of gelato as well as other farmer products: locally milled whole wheat flour from The Mill at Janie’s Farm, meats, poultry eggs from Bane Family Meats, Piemonte Sausages and Jams from Autumn Berry Inspired and Prairie Fruits Farm “merch.” Check out the new products by Sarah Stewart (our former gelato maker); pickled ramps, pickled shitake mushrooms, fermented green garlic in brine and spring pestos (green garlic-pistachio and wild ramp). 

Mark your calendars for our next summer “Wine Tasting with Michael” event—Thursday, July 12th, 5-7 pm. Michael will be pouring a few featured wines from our portfolio of organic and biodynamic wines. We’ll feature a lovely white and a rose from Sardinia as well as a few lighter reds that pair well with our bloomy rind cheeses.

Dinners on the Farm: Our 2018 season is underway. Summer is a great time to enjoy dining outside at the farm, especially under our new timber-frame pavilion. We have some fantastic themes for summer “A Southern Style Seafood Boil,” “A Cheesy Affair” (with guest chef from Pastoral Appellation Wine Bar) and “Summer Vegetarian” (with guest chef Dan Compton of Vie Restaurant). Hurry; tickets are going fast.

Plan a get-away weekend in Central IL this summer: If you’re thinking about coming to one of our farm dinners this summer (or fall for that matter), and you’re coming from far away, why not make a weekend of it? We are partnering with Moon Grove Farm, a new farm B&B located in Mahomet (only 20-25 minutes’ drive west of our farm) to offer a special package deal. Stay tuned for details. 

Do you dream of having goats in your life?  Do you want a family milk goat? How about for brush control or rural pet? Goats are wonderful working animals and affectionate companions too. We have great breeding stock with excellent health and milk records.  We have several does that are bred and due to kid in mid-July as well as a couple of milkers. We also have retired does, bucklings and wethers for grazing/brush control and companion animal needs. Check out what's available (see pictures on our Facebook page) and contact us if interested. 


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

Posted 6/14/2018 8:51pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Farm News

The US dairy industry has designated June as “National Dairy Month.”  I am not one to jump frivolously on a seemingly trite industry marketing campaign, but we are in the milk business, after all. We have an intimate relationship with milk, as well as the animals who provide us with the white fluid richness.

For us, our goats’ varying diet, their health and their overall well-being are seamlessly linked to their milk, both quantity and quality.  As a farmstead creamery (we use only the milk from our herd of goats to make our cheeses), our relationships with goats and milk are especially acute and intense.  Our milk and dairy products are like a symphony: the goats are the musicians, the pasture their theater and milkers and cheese makers the rotating conductors.

Consumption of animal milk is in trouble. According a recent study of milk consumption trends over the past couple of years (I get a lot of great information about the commercial dairy industry from a weekly newspaper called “The Cheese Reporter”), more people are choosing non-animal (soy, almond) “milks” over animal dairy products. The report cites health problems (allergies, lactose intolerance), dietary lifestyle choices (veganism) and environmental and animal welfare concerns as some of the reasons for this trend.  There are so many unconnected pieces to this puzzle of why we choose to eat/drink what we do, it would take many arrows and boxes to begin to develop a coherent explanation.  The fall from designation as “nature’s perfect food” to gustatory pariah has been gradual, complex and somewhat stealth. 

There are many myths and mis-perceptions about dairy farming and milk that have contributed to milk consumption’s demise.  In talking with folks who visit our farm, I find many don’t appreciate the necessity of mammal’s having offspring to produce milk.  Milk is available year-round and ubiquitous, so the connection to a life-cycle or a season is muddled. Since we are a seasonal dairy and most of our does kid in the spring, it is easier to demonstrate this connection. The greater nuances imparted to milk from animal type, animal breeds, stages of lactation or diets (forages versus grains, silage versus fresh pasture, for example) make the choices of what to drink or eat even more complicated.

Some folks believe they are lactose intolerant, yet can consume dairy products made with goats’ milk with ease. This apparent paradox highlights the different types of milk proteins in cow versus goat milk. Most adverse reactions are likely allergies to cow milk proteins. Many doctors tell their patients to avoid dairy products all together; other doctors tell expectant mothers to avoid certain types of cheese, even if they’re made with pasteurized milk.  Milk can be confusing, and does not conform to one-size-fits-all dietary guidelines.

Small-scale, family-owned dairy farms are becoming endangered species as well. Every year, there are fewer dairy farmers milking 100 cows or less. Most live in a commodity landscape in which it costs more to produce a gallon of milk than they receive in payment for that milk. Consumers celebrate $2/gallon milk at the grocery store, while dairy cooperatives send suicide prevention letters to dairy farmers with their milk checks.  Even organic milk producers are being given the squeeze from processors; some processors will only take so many gallons per farm. 

So, what does it mean to celebrate milk and dairy products in our modern world? For me, it’s more than just drinking a glass of milk or eating a piece of cheese. It’s a call to know your dairy farmers.  It’s a call to probe your milk’s origins, to understand what how the animals are cared for or how their diet and living conditions affect their milk quality.  Embrace the complexity of nature’s perfect food.

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  

In celebration of June Dairy Month, we have a special offer for our farm store patrons.  To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Here are the key words based on your interests:

  • For general farm announcements, text GOAT to 30500
  • For special farmers’ market offers and promotions (Urbana’s Market at the Square patrons), text URBANA to 30500
  • For the latest news on farm to table meals, text TABLE to 30500
  • For CSA members, text CSA to 30500

Farmers’ Market Offerings

All three bloomies are plentiful this week—black goat and little bloom are perfectly ripe, while angel food is still young but tasty. Try some of our feta on a market greens salad this week or grab some of our discounted Moonglo wedges.

Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—the lemony flavor of our summer chevre is a perfect foil for a mixed green salad or over roasted beets. Try this recipe featuring chickpeas, local strawberries and fresh chevre:

Spicy Strawberry-Chickpea Salad with Fresh Chevre
(recipe by Meg Dickinson of News Gazette, 6/6/18)
Ingredients
2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
½ C local strawberries, de-stemmed and chopped coarsely
1 small jalapeño pepper, de-seeded and chopped
4 oz. fresh goat cheese (PFF&C, please)
3 T olive oil
1 handful of chopped cilantro
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of one lime approx.)

In a large salad bowl, fold together all the ingredients until mixed well. Make sure chickpeas and strawberries are evenly coated.  Cover bowl and chill at least one hour before serving. Serves 6 approx.

Note from Prairie Fruits Farm: I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it’s simple and it sounds delicious. If you don’t want the spicy, omit the jalapeño pepper. You might also add a little (1 T) chopped, fresh mint. Season with salt and pepper as needed. 

Goat Milk Feta: the first of the season feta is HERE! We are now making our feta with pasteurized milk. It’s still aged in whey brine, imparting all the wonderful complex flavors you’ve come to expect from our feta. With summer salad season upon, the arrival of our feta is timely. We will have limited quantities of our feta in olive oil with herbs too.

Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is perfectly ripe.  Serve with local honey or one of the jams in our farm store. If you want to go the savory route, try serving a round with one of our new spring pestos—wild ramp or green garlic or fermented green garlic in brine (found only in the freezer section of our farm store).

Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this new batch of Angel Food is young, firm and tangy. For those you who like it slightly tart and crumbly, this is your cheese this week. 

Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is ripening nicely, but it has a sublime fudgy consistency and a hint of yeastiness on the rind.  Try pairing with spicy dry-cured salami.

Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try it on crusty bread with onion jam or caramelized onions. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese. Again this week, we have a batch with soft rinds, so we’re running a special--$5/lb. off the regular price.  Ask for a taste—all you have to do is cut off the rind, and enjoy the delicious cheese within.

Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination). This cheese is ONLY available directly from us—no wholesale buyers have this cheese right now.

Gelato:  Here’s the selection of pints this week:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Espresso
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Stracciatella (chocolate ganache “chip”)
  • Cucumber-Lime-Mint Sorbetto (limited)
  • Fresh Lemon Sorbetto (very limited)  

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

The farm’s summer hours have begun; now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind.

During our open hours, you can “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a salami or jar of jam or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese!

If you just want to come out to do a little shopping in farm store, we’ll have cheese and scoops of gelato as well as other farmer products: locally milled whole wheat flour from The Mill at Janie’s Farm, meats, poultry eggs from Bane Family Meats, Piemonte Sausages and Jams from Autumn Berry Inspired and Prairie Fruits Farm “merch.” Check out the new products by Sarah Stewart (our former gelato maker); pickled ramps, pickled shitake mushrooms, fermented green garlic in brine and spring pestos (green garlic-pistachio and wild ramp). 

Dinners on the Farm: Our 2018 season is underway. Summer is a great time to enjoy dining outside at the farm, especially under our new timber-frame pavilion. We have some fantastic themes for summer—“Summer Tapas,” “A Southern Style Seafood Boil,” “A Cheesy Affair” (with guest from Pastoral Appellation Wine Bar) and “Summer Vegetarian” (with guest chef Dan Compton of Vie Restaurant). Hurry; tickets are going fast.

Do you dream of having goats in your life?  Do you want a family milk goat? How about for brush control or rural pet? Goats are wonderful working animals and affectionate companions too. We have great breeding stock with excellent health and milk records.  We have several does that are bred and due to kid in mid-July as well as a couple of milkers. We also have retired does, bucklings and wethers for grazing/brush control and companion animal needs. Check out what's available and contact us if interested. 


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.