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Biological warfare on farm pests, farmers' markets and farm happenings

Posted 6/11/2015 10:56pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

We’re employing a full arsenal of biological approaches to insect pests on the farm this year.  Each week we receive a package containing parasitic wasps that prey on fly larvae.  We sprinkle the pupae on the bedding in the goat barns and along the edges of our compost pile.  When the wasps hatch, they burrow into the bedding on the hunt for their prey.  We’re also using a liquid of beneficial micro-organisms called “Effective Micro-Organisms” or “EM.”  These are produced via fermentation of organic matter and ironically consist mostly of the same bacteria that ferment our milk into cheese.  Each week, we spray the EM on the bedding in the barns. 

kathy with packpack sprayer

 Our intern, Kathy, backpack sprayer on, ready for spraying EM's and nematodes

Their job is to accelerate the breakdown of the organic matter, thereby creating a less hospitable environment for the flies to lay their eggs.  Our third strategic weapon is beneficial nematodes.  These microscopic worm-like critters predate larvae of many pests, flies among them.  With the 2.5 inches of rain that fell on the farm last Sunday and the ensuing heat, it’s a bit hard to tell if the biological arsenal is powerful enough to keep the enemy’s population in check.  Flies love hot rotting wet organic matter, and we have lots of that right now. 

We also planted cover crops in the orchard to attract beneficial insects.  We have strips of mustard and buckwheat between the rows of peaches, pears and apples.  They have started to flower in the past week, and I’ve noticed an explosion of other-worldly arthropods hovering over their nectaries.  The cover crops provide food and shelter for these working insects; their job is to eat or parasitize the insects that destroy our fruits—codling moth, plum curculio, oriental fruit moth.  We’re helping the biological soldiers along with a bit of human intervention: picking off the small fruits that have already been damaged by insect pests and spraying the trees with a white kaolin clay to make the leaves and fruit unpalatable to those insects that break through the onslaught of predators and parasites.   

mustard flowers


Lovely yellow mustard flowers attract beneficial insects

Farmers’ Markets

We’re attending two farmers’ markets this Saturday: Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Once again, I’ll be traveling north to Chicago to greet our Green City Market customers. Wes and Maureen will attend to the folks in Urbana-Champaign.  You’ll need cheese to compliment the wonderful summer vegetables and fruits you’ll be buying at the markets:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta
  • Feta
  • Angel Food
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie
  • Black Goat
  • Huckleberry Blue

Of course, we have seasonal and traditional flavors of gelato to cool you off:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Local Strawberry
  • Fresh Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb sorbetto  

Farm Happenings

If you’re considering making reservations to our Beer and Cheese Soiree,” this Saturday evening, don’t delay. There are still a few seats left.  Our chefs have been testing out the recipes for the Bavarian pretzel and the coffee cookies for the gelato sandwich. Wes (the pretzel maven) said it was the best soft pretzel he’d ever eaten. I didn’t even get to taste the cookies since our staff inhaled them before I could get to them. 

Our kitchen is putting the final touches on the menu for our June “Third Friday Pop-Up” (June 19th from 5:30-7:30 PM) and all I can say is house-made pita bread will be the star attraction (along with local chicken and lamb). Rebecca Rego and the Trainmen will be our featured musicians for the evening. 

Don’t forget to mark June 21st on your calendar and make a date with us for an afternoon of farms and local food tastings—from 1-5 PM, you’ll visit Blue Moon Farm’s organic vegetable operation, pick your own lavender at Sharp’s Crossing Lavender Farm and visit with the goats at Prairie Fruits Farm.  This is the first “Tasting Trailof the season, so we hope you’ll make your reservations NOW.   

Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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.