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A season without peaches, please stop the rain, Final Babies & Brunch and MORE!

Posted 4/25/2019 8:50pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

We have an emotional attachment to our peaches. Our farm was founded partly on the promise of a dead-ripe peach in the heat of summer. So, we try to do right by them during the critical stages of their life cycle. The 2019 winter to try men’s (and women’s) souls, with its apocryphal polar vortex, seemed to buy us time in March to prune our peach trees before bud break.

In between goat births, we were able to take out dead wood and re-establish the open candelabra habit so typical of a well-groomed peach tree. Little did we know at the time of pruning that the dye had already been cast with the flower buds. The minus 20 degrees F and below temperatures that encased the farm in early February had killed them.  As the orchard awoke this past week, we saw the casualties in plain sight. There are some apples and a few pears in white bloom, but the lovely sea of pink in the south end of the orchard is absent.

The peaches have leafed out without a single flower.  No flowers, no fruit. There will be a void of chin-dripping sweetness this summer; we can only hope that our fruit farmer friends in the southern part of the state fared better than we have. 

“April showers bring May flowers,” typically trite and evocative of lovely images, feels especially cruel this spring.  I feel more like the refrain from the ‘60’s pop song “Please stop the rain…” Like so many of our fellow farmers, chomping at the bit to get out and till the ground and plant, we cringe at the sight of the darkening sky and the sound of rain drops ricocheting on the metal roof.  There is nowhere else for any more rain to go. Despite the exponential growth of greenery, the poor roots can’t soak up this wetness fast enough. 

We stew in our frustrations, unable to clean out our barns, unable to spread our compost to make room for more manure once we can clean out our barns, unable to till up our pasture so we can reseed with some wonderful new forages for the goats.  There’s hollow consolation in commiserating with our fellow farmers. Farmers obsess about the main driver of their livelihood, the one thing over which they have no control. 

Fourth and Final Week of Full Menu “Babies & Brunch” with Chef Raquel Ritz

On a happier note, all delicious things have their season, and “Babies & Brunch” is all about early spring. Come join us for our final full-menu brunch of the season, this Saturday, April 27th. The farm is open 10 am to 2 pm. The Illinois Marathon is happening in and around C-U in the morning, so take care to find open routes out of town.

In keeping with her efforts to craft delicious food from as many local farms as possible, Chef Raquel’s brunch menu looks amazing. Be sure to get here early so you can sample as many of the menu items as possible. You can visit with the goats, sample cheeses, enjoy a scoop of gelato, see the babies and enjoy brunch. 

Parking is limited due to continued wet and soggy ground. We encourage our guests to carpool. New this year-if you have 4 or more people in your car you can park for free! Fewer than four? We are requesting a $5/car donation (this is not mandatory, but with the extremely wet weather we’re experiencing this spring, our parking spaces are quite limited).

Delight Flower Farm will be here doing another Pop-Up Flower Shop in front of our barn.

Cow Creek Farm will be here again selling ramps (wild-harvested from their farm’s woodlands near Paxton IL)-ramps are wild leeks that emerge from forest soils before the trees have a chance to leaf out. They have a very short season, and their flavor is beautifully complex—onion x leek x garlic. 

Farm Market Offerings This Weekend

This weekend, we’ll debut a full-house of bloomy rind cheeses. Also, this is your last chance to get our special spring flavor of chevre: Chevre with Fresh Chives and Lemon Zest. Here’s the lineup:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie—still young, but developing some nice flavors. There’s a slight gooey layer between the rind and the paste now. If you like it with more goo, just let it age in your fridge for another week or so.
  • Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy, it’s compact, firm with a tangy paste. As it ages, the mushroom notes from the rind take hold.
  • Black Goat-our ash-coated mold-ripened cheese. The rind looks like brain corral; the paste is still firm and fudgy with a slightly yeasty bread dough flavor on the palate.  Enjoy with local honey or a dollop of local jam.
  • Moonglo-Enjoy a wedge of this complex, raw-milk beauty. Each wheel is washed in a cultured brine made with pear-leaf tea. It’s great with charcuterie or melt it for a fancy grilled cheese sandwich

OR get a scoop or pint gelato:

  • Vanilla
  • Lemon Crème
  • Chocolate
  • Stracciatella (chocolate ganache ribbons in vanilla gelato)
  • Black Currant-Cassis—made with locally grown black currants from Midwest Agroforestry Systems (Vulcan Farm, Sidney, IL) and Kentucky distilled cassis (black currant liqueur)

Check out the new items in our farm store and stock up on local products:

-eggs, meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats (Sidney)

-soaps from Red Barn Farm (including loofa soaps and liquid soap)

-Pancake mixes from Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains-think pancakes with jam and chevre!

-Animal Welfare Approved Bandanas

-Charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co.  (pancetta, pork loin filleto)

-locally milled flours from Janie’s Mill AND MORE!

In addition to “Babies & Brunch,” the farm will be open on Sunday from 1-4 pm. Although we won’t be offering brunch service, you can “Build your own Cheese Board” with wine/beer, peruse the farm store and visit with the goats-young and old.  You might even get lucky and catch a goat giving birth!

Other Farm Happenings

We’re now taking reservations for our Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet. We have two seatings—10 am to 12 noon and 12:30-2:30. Check out the amazing menu that Chef Raquel has crafted and book your reservations NOW.  Seats are going fast. The first seating is almost sold out!

I’ve posted a bunch more of the farm dinner themes and dates on our website and our ticket sales page (ShowClix), so check them out and make some reservations. We have some great additions this year:

  • Jake Chappell, Chef of Vincent in Chicago will be doing a lamb dinner with Catalpa Grove Farm
  • Eric Damidot, Chef of NoMi Kitchen (Park Hyatt, Chicago) will be doing a France meets Midwest themed meal
  • Chef Raquel Ritz is tackling a five course meal focused around all things milk
  • The Great Pumpkin Patch is back this year for our very popular Pumpkin & Squashes themed dinner
  • Vicia Restaurant, St. Louis (Chef Michael Gallina) will venture north for a Sunday afternoon local food feast
  • We’ll end the season with a Whole Hog-Triptych brewery holiday feast. 

Yoga with Goats Maggie Taylor, owner of Delight Flower Farm, will once again be offering goat yoga this spring. She has posted a number of dates with ticket sales in progress. Several dates are already sold out! This playful take on yoga practice will surely delight—check out the dates and book your reservations now.

CSA sign up through Blue Moon Farm! Blue Moon Farm is offering a new customizable CSA (Community Supported Agriculture for those unfamiliar). They are partnering with a number of other local farms (including ours) to offer “add-ons” in addition to their weekly vegetable shares.

The customizable CSA puts you in charge of deciding what products you want and when you want them.  They have multiple pick up locations too! Their season starts some time in May, so don’t delay in signing up for a one-stop shop of some of the best local food in Central IL. 

Copyright 2019. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2019. 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.