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Drying out and speeding up, Farmers' Market Offerings,, "Behind the Scenes" Farm Tours and More

Posted 5/16/2019 10:05pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

When the clouds lift and the soil no longer squishes under foot, it’s time to get to work.  The long list of postponed projects beckons, and it’s hard to set priorities when they all seem so urgent.  Moving the compost, cleaning out the doe barn, moving the bucks into their summer pasture, getting the kids out to graze the orchard, putting up more fencing so the does can browse unsupervised in the prairie—how do we choose which one to tackle first? Patience and respect for the hours of daylight aid in forming the strategy.  We’re driven by our desire to get our goats in front of as much fresh forage as possible.  The lushness of the new growth must not be wasted.  No doubt, all those succulent greens cause the udders to swell with milk. 

Doelings in the orchard

Indeed, the milk volume is ramping up, and it’s all we can do to keep up with transforming it into cheese.  My mornings are spent moving milk from bulk tank to cheese vats, sometimes making two batches of cheese in a day.  I find myself racing from task to task in the creamery, determined to orchestrate the day’s activities with as much efficiency as possible. Pasteurizing comes first, salting comes next, cleaning the baskets and tables for the next ladle follows and packing chevre ensues thereafter. Then, there are the small jobs—cleaning, flipping cheese, more cleaning, wrapping cheese, more cleaning—these tasks fill in the gaps while waiting for the cheese making process to unfold.  There is beauty and some salvation in organizing the chaos.   

Farm Market Offerings Saturday, May 17th Market at the Square”  7 AM to 12 Noon.

The weather forecast is calling for sultry temperatures, making it perfect for a morning of shopping for some great local foods. We've got a nice selection of cheeses and gelato for our patrons. We're bringing some fresh ricotta to the market! It goes so well with grilled asparagus or fresh strawberries with a drizzle of honey.  Come early if you want some.We'll also be bringing our farm-made ramp pesto. Serve it with some warmed chevre and crusty bread!

Here’s the cheese lineup:

  • Fresh Whole Goat Milk Ricotta-creamy and delicate, sweet milk taste
  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie—This batch is perfectly ripe, but limited in offering-come early if you want one. 
  • Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy, it’s compact, firm in the center with a slightly gooey edge. As it ages, the mushroom notes from the rind take hold. Slice over a salad of fresh local greens.
  • Black Goat-our ash-coated mold-ripened cheese. The rind looks like brain corral; the paste is soft and creamy 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 local charcuterie or try shaving it over a salad of greens and roasted asparagus.

Grab a pint gelato (3 pint special is still a thing—buy 3, get $1/pint off) :

  • Vanilla
  • Buttered Pecan (with Voss Orchard pecans)
  • Maple walnut (with Funk’s Grove maple syrup)
  • Salted caramel swirl
  • Chocolate

Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? No worries: the farm is open this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm.

During the month of May, the farm is open weekends, 1-4 pm each day. You can still visit with the goats (the babies are growing so fast), stroll through the orchard and just check for new signs of spring life on the farm.  You can also enjoy a scoop of gelato OR cheese board with a glass of wine/beer or a black currant spritzer.  Need a little caffeine? We can make you a special espresso drink. We can even put a scoop of gelato for an “affogato. 

Check out the local products in our farm store:  

-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!

Other Farm Happenings 

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:

  • Our July 20th BBQ dinner now has a New England "Surf and Turf" bent to it
  • Jake Chappell, Chef of Vincent in Chicago will be doing a lamb dinner with Catalpa Grove Farm Lamb--this chef is up and coming and super talented. Check out this Sunday afternoon meal!
  • 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
  • and we’ll end the season with a Whole Hog-Triptych brewery holiday feast.

These tickets go fast, so grab ‘em while you can.

LAST CHANCE: 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.

Behind the Scenes Tour & Tasting

Michael Darin, our special events coordinator extraordinaire, will be offering weekend tours of the farm with a tasting of several cheeses. The first tours will be offered this Saturday/Sunday, May 18th/19th at 2 pm and again at 3 pm each day. These tours will be offered twice monthly through the summer. Guests will gather under the Prairie Pavilion to start the tour. Michael will give a brief history about the farm and some background about the owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband. 

He will then guide guests around the farm and creamery where they will learn about raising goats, how the farm functions day-to-day, as well as how the creamery transforms our goat milk into delicious cheese and gelato. The tour will end with an interactive cheese tasting in the Real Stand Farm Store.   

Tours are conducted rain or shine, and last approximately 45-minutes. Please be prepared to walk around the farm; comfortable closed-toed shoes are advised. No reservations are required, Cost is $10 for adults, $6 for kids 12 and under. Glasses of wine or beer can be added to the tasting for a tour price of $6.   

Goat Walk Happy Hour

How about accompanying the goats out to pasture after their evening milking and then enjoying a glass of wine or beer or a special cocktail with some cheese? We will be hosting a very special happy hour like no other on Thursday, June 27th, 6-8. We will be taking reservations for this event (limited to 30 to 40 guests only), so save the date and stay tuned for more details.  

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.