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Hot Monkey Wrench in Fall, Farmers' Market Offerings, Farm Happenings

Posted 9/12/2019 9:05pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

The challenge of a mid-September heat wave is the disruption of the natural rhythms of seasonal succession.  The farm was settling into cool nights and crisp dry days.  The harvest moon was nearly full. The garden was planted with late season crops (kale, carrots, beets and lettuce), the basil was shriveled and senescent, the does frisky with the prospects of finding some love.  The farm crew schemed over barn clean outs, manure spreading and cool-season pasture seeding.  Blood samples were drawn and spreadsheets filled with breeding pairs, all in preparation for fall breeding. 

The does would saunter out to the prairie in early afternoon to browse, no concern did we have for heat stress or exhaustion. The sudden rise in the mercury has upended these halcyon days of autumn. Fans are back on in the barns, cool water is refilled in the stock tanks several times throughout the day, and daily prairie walks occur right after the morning milking. We have reverted back to summer tricks to keep the girls’ milk production from plummeting.

The farm kitchen, abuzz with fall canning, is now the place for perspiration and iced drinks. The heat rising from the jams bubbling in pots or the tomatoes drying in the food dehydrator is no longer welcome. The coolness of the creamery provides respite. 

The scalding sun feels out of place in mid-September. I find it hard to accept the over ‘90’s temperatures more typical of July and August.  There is incongruence with the yellowing corn fields, ears already filled, waiting to dry before harvest.  There is unwillingness to accept that over which we have little control.  There is resentment over readjusting the weekly routine, waiting for the heat to move along and let fall be fall.

Farm Store and Farmers’ Market Offerings

Saturday is looking promising for excellent farmers’ market shopping weather. Although our repertoire is a bit smaller this week, we have a great special with our feta: 

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbes de Provence, cracked pepper-our chevre is so fresh and light; it’s the perfect foil for your salads, soups or stews
  • Tomato chevre-Juliette tomatoes from our garden dried and chopped into our fresh chevre-this cheese captures the sweet heat of summer; enjoy on some hearty multi-grain toast
  • 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.” EARLY FALL SPECIAL-$13 GETS YOU A CONTAINER OF FETA, A SMALL JAR OF HONEY AND A BUNDLE OF FRESH HERBS—all the ingredients you need to make my new favorite “Roasted Feta with Honey” from NY Times Cooking. I will have copies of the recipe to hand out with the special.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-a goat milk camembert-style bloomy. The current batch is aging nicely, with hints of buttered mushroom flavor. Slice over roasted summer veggies (squash, eggplant) or enjoy on a burger or with some local dry-cured salami.
  • Black Goat—our newest batch is young, but it has that lovely dense fudgy texture along with a hint of yeastiness on the palate.  Try it with one of our newest jarred creations-house made pickles or spiced pear butter

Speaking of jarred products, Megan, our newest farm preserver, has been very busy in the farm kitchen of late. She has been making and canning pickled veggies of many stripes (summer squash, cucumbers, gardinier, etc.) as well as jamming.

Her latest creation is spiced (warm spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) pear butter. We will have these available for sale in our farm store as well as the farmers’ market.

Enjoy a pint of gelato (3 pint special —Buy 3, get $1/pint off): If you haven't tried our NEW LINE OF WHEY BASED SORBETTOS, ask us for a taste:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate—VERY LIMITED
  • Blueberry Cream—VERY LIMITED
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (Mileur Orchard)-VERY LIMITED

Try a pint from our new line of Whey-Based Sorbettos we’re calling “So-Whey-Betto” The whey from our chevre makes is added to the mix, creating a creamery texture and enhancing the flavor of the local fruits. Not only are they delicious, they are good for you (the whey contains probiotic cultures and lots of healthful nutrients):

-Red Currant

-Black Currant



-Michigan Blueberry

-Pear Frangelico (with our very own pears, of course)

Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? Check out our farm store’s “Back to School” Hours: Fridays, 4-7 pm and weekends, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm.

Come out on a Friday after work. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the sun go down while you enjoy a glass of wine/beer and cheese board under our pavilion, you don’t know what you’re missing. Bring the kids too.

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. Come back inside the farm store to shop for other local farmers’ products (meats, eggs, flour, jams, pickles, salamis, syrups, honey, etc.) or take home some PFFC “merch” (tea towels, aprons, t-shirts, sweat shirts and….)

Other Happenings 

The Land Connection's Annual Fundraiser-Chef-Farmer Competition "Artisan Fork & Cup" is Saturday, September 21st. Our cheese will be represented in one of the chef’s prepared dish, so please come out and support a good cause. 

Dinners on the Farm Autumn is a beautiful season to experience one of our farm dinners.  We now have a few seats open for our September 21st “French Midwest Connection." Grab ‘em before they sell out again.

We still have plenty of seats for the dinners in October, November and December, especially our “I Love Pumpkins” dinner with The Great Pumpkin Patch (October 28th). Make your reservations now, before they sell out.

October 20th Italian fall “festa” with Pizza M

Italy in Autumn-the next best thing to being there is a Sunday afternoon at the farm with Pizza M making their famous hand-tossed pies (with all locally-sourced ingredients, including the flour dough), freshly spun nocciola (hazelnut) gelato and lemon sorbetto.

Did I get you at Pizza M or the hazelnut gelato? Either way, we’re selling tickets to this event to make sure we don’t run out of pizza!! Check out the details and grab your “passport” tickets. --visit with the goats --enjoy a hay ride around the farm --peruse our farm shop, and much more….

October 26th and 27th Prairie Fruits Farm’s Third Annual Cider Days

The evocative apple-so enigmatic of fall—crisp, sweet-scented. In the last weekend of October, we celebrate all things apple with a two day festival.  Saturday (1-4 pm), we’ll offer fresh cider to drink, cider-gelato floats and bags of fresh apples from Red Crib Acres. Sunday, 1-5 pm, we’ll offer cider pressing, lots of cider drinks, doughnuts from Lucky Pierre Bakers, hay rides and MORE... Check out the details, and mark your calendars. 

Fall Classes and Tastings

We will be offering our popular cheese tasting and cheese pairings classes (wine/beer/bubbly) in November and December.  We may even offer a cheese making class (held in our commercial creamery). Stay tuned for details and registration information. 

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.