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Forbidden fruits no longer, Market Offerings, Farm Happenings

Posted 8/2/2019 11:51am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Our original farm logo was a folk art-inspired image of goats eating peaches off a tree. The combination of fruit trees and goats, like so many of our idealistic early farm ideas, was, in hindsight, crazy.  Goats love fruit trees. They love the leaves, they love the bark; everything but the fruit it turns out.  Over the years, we have gone to great lengths to keep the goats from the orchard.  We have installed woven wire fence along the pasture perimeter with an interior set of hot wires for good measure, yet their drive to have what they covet has spurred them to heroic feats—collectively pulling down the woven wire to climb over the compost pile into the orchard (a la barbarian invasion of Rome); finding a weak link in the hot wire and leaping over it, jimmying the lock on the gate and letting themselves out into the orchard to name several break-out styles. 

Our peach trees turned 15 this spring and their tired peeling limbs have begun to show their age.   Winter’s polar vortex added insult to injury, leaving us with no peach flowers, and hence no fruit (although Wes and I each managed to find one lone peach last weekend—we split them and savored every bite; the reminder of how delicious our peaches are was bittersweet). There has always been a section of our orchard we called the “Bermuda triangle,” because, despite the lush green growth of the leaves, the trees almost never bore much fruit (they flowered but the blossoms seemed to disappear into greenery).  We wondered if the proximity to our doe barn cast too much shade to produce fruit, or if they goats were casting spells, inducing them to put out leaves rather than fruits.

lone peachWe have been threatening these trees for several years now that if they didn’t put out, we’d cut them down.  With the heat waves of late, we decided to sacrifice the trees to create a bit of shade for the goats.  Alas, life imitates art, as our original logo becomes the scene of a goat feeding frenzy.  Once several piles of goat manure compost were removed and the new fencing was complete, we let them in to formerly forbidden territory. 

Persephone's cocklebur beardAt first, they seemed stunned by their good fortune; like giving a child a giant bag of candy, they sensed the moral conundrum. This hesitancy lasted only a few seconds as they tore into the tall burdock weeds (cockleburs be damned!) and stood on their hind legs to reach the tender peach leaves. One day later, it is clear that their shade won’t last long, the once densely green weedy jungle strewn with bare stems and debarked trunks. They are content to live for the moment, to relish was has been forbidden for so long. 

orchard mayhem

Farm Store and Farmers’ Market Offerings

We are expecting some glorious weather over the next several days. Early August is the perfect time to visit the farm and to patronize the Urbana Farmers’ Market. There are so much peak season fruits and veggies. Our cheeses go so well with so many of the season’s bounty. If you’re not sure how best to use the cheeses, just ask us for recommendations.

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Special summer herb chevre-we’ve got so many wonderful herbs in our herb garden this year that we’ve been drying a bunch and making blends to add to our chevre.
  • Goat Milk Feta in Whey Brine: our goat milk feta is firm and tangy. Bathed in a whey-salt brine for at least one month, the texture is what I call “creamy-crumbly.” This batch is tasting mighty fine. It’s perfect crumbled over sweetcorn bathed in a spicy mayo. 
  • Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy, it’s compact, firm in the center with a slightly gooey edge as it ages. This batch is young-slightly tangy, firm with a slight hint of mushroom. Try grilling it whole and serve with grilled peaches and balsamic glaze. 
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-a goat milk camembert-style bloomy. VERY LIMITED offering this week, but a young batch should be available next weekend.
  • Black Goat: our funky ash-dusted bloomy rind with a crinkly white-mold rind. This batch is perfectly ripe. This cheese holds up well to stronger flavors, such as hard salamis or a really tart summer berry jam.  Add a glass of summer red wine or try our newest sparkling wine offering in the farm store—Illinois’ Sparkling Company’s “Pet Nat” (an unfiltered champagne-style sparkling wine—like a marriage between kombucha and wine)
  • Pelota Roja: our raw-milk “goat manchego” style hard cheese with a guajillo chile-olive oil rub on the rind. We make this for Rick Bayless’s restaurants, but we reserve a few wheels to sell to our market customers. VERY LIMITED (so come early if you want some). 

Cool off with a pint of gelato (3 pint special is still a thing—Buy 3, get $1/pint off): Here's the line-up:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Strawberry (from Cary’s Garden of Eatin’)
  • Peach-Ginger (also from Cary’s Garden)
  • Mint Stracciatella (fancy ganache chocolate ribbons in mint gelato)-LIMITED

Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? No worries: the farm is open Thursdays and Fridays, 4-8 pm and weekends, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm.

Our weeknight hours will end on Friday, August 9th. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the sun go down while you enjoy a glass of wine/beer and cheese board, now’s your chance.

We offer a “build your own cheese board.”  You pick out the cheese(s) and accompaniments (jam, honey, pickled veggies or pecans), we provide you with a demi-baguette from Central Illinois Bake House. Complete the experience with a glass of wine or beer. Can’t decide what you want? Ask our staff for recommendations.  

Of course, you can visit with the goats (kids and adults alike), stroll through the orchard, and check out our herb and vegetable garden.  If you’re ambitious, you can walk along the path toward the creek.

Check out the local products and “merch” in our farm store: 

-NEW maple syrup from “Sticky Peets”-southern OH maple syrup that oh so good!

-NEW pecans (plain and cinnamon sugar) from Voss Pecan Orchard, Carlyle, IL

-NEW-Illinois Sparkling Wine Co/August Hill Winery (Peru IL) Champagne style Brut Rose and Pet Nat (Petit Natural)—ask for a taste; these wines are truly amazing from a local winery a couple hours north of us

-local honey from Two Million Blooms

-NEWLY stocked 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!

-Autumn Berry Jam-regular and jalapeno-we are restocked; these jams make excellent accompaniments to our cheeses

-Animal Welfare Approved Bandanas

-Our “Three Chippys” tea towel. Chippy the goat is the farm’s logo, and she appears as chef, farmer and sommelier on this organic cotton flour sack tea towel AND our “Damn Kids” tea towel

NEW: Chippy the Chef Denim Aprons-soft, durable with three pockets for the most discerning chef in your family

NEW stock of PFFC T-shirts—new colors, styles—check them out! New children’s t-shirts with the “damn kids” image on the front—quite adorable

-Charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co.  (pancetta, pork loin filleto and capocollo) as well as their frozen sausages (need to be cooked) OR salamis from Underground Meats

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

Other Farm Happenings   

Goat Walk Happy Hour-August 22nd, 6-8 pm. We’ve changed up the format for the happy hour as well as the price ($35/person includes a glass of wine/beer, cheese and charcuterie platters, the escorted goat walk and a scoop of gelato to round out the evening), so check out the details and book your reservations NOW. We limit the number of guests to 35 so that you can really get a lot of “quality” time with the goats in the prairie. 

Dinners on the Farm Summer is the perfect time to experience one of our farm dinners. Check out out the “Sunday afternoon dinner with Vincent” lamb dinner on August 18th, and this year’s take on our “100 Yard Dinner-Follow the Milk at the end of August. While you’re on the website, peruse the other themes and dates coming up this fall.  Make your reservations now, as these fill up fast.

Behind the Scenes Tour & Tasting

Michael Darin, our special events coordinator extraordinaire will be offering his next "Behind the Scenes" tours on: August 10th & 11th at 2 and 3 pm each day.  The good news is that we will be extending these popular tours through the end of August and maybe on a limited basis in September.

For the tours, guests gather under the Prairie Pavilion to start. Michael gives a brief history about the farm and some background about the owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband.  He then guides guests around the farm and creamery where they 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 ends with an interactive cheese tasting in the Real Stand Farm Store or under the Pavilion (if weather permits). 

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.   

Fall is gorgeous here on the farm Fall is just around the corner, and we’re planning some great events in October.  We will be doing a special “Fall Fest Pop Up with Pizza M” on October 20th and our “Cider Dayz” on October 27th. Details forthcoming, but for now, save the dates. 

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.