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Posted 4/28/2016 11:05pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

With the first group of kids weaned, reserved doelings are on the move to their new homes.  A nice family from central Wisconsin had reserved a group of 20 to start their milking herd of goats. They have been milking cows, but were eager to make the transition to smaller and more fastidious ruminants.  We agreed to meet them half way on the Wisconsin-Illinois border just north of Rockford IL.  On Monday morning, we loaded up the little ladies in the back of our Suburban (lined with plastic sheeting and good dose of straw bedding), and pulled out of the driveway, cacophony of kids in tow.  Erica, our herd manager, wistfully noted that it was like sending your kids off to summer camp, only they’re not coming back home.

doelings on the road

After the starts and stops of country roads, they finally settled into the ride once we hit the open highway.  There are always one or two who insist on screaming at the slightest bump or jolt, but most of them were either lying down or coming up to the front for frequent petting and reassurance.  We reached our meeting place (a gas station off I-90) after three hours and pulled up alongside the truck of their new owners. 

As we loaded them into the back of their truck, they were distracted by the new bedding-fresh oat straw-fronts as both snack and mattress.  I always try to size up the new owners of our goats, making sure that they’re going to a good home. I could sense that while they were experienced dairy folk, they had done a lot of research about goats and we eager to get their girls home, so their own kids could play with them.  With a few final words of advice and stolen kisses (to my babies), Wes made me get in the vehicle so we could let these nice folks continue on their journey homeward.

We, on the other hand, had another goat sale to meet—this one was us buying a new breeding buckling from Reichert’s Dairy Air (a small, artisan goat creamery in central Iowa, near Des Moines). We made our way south and then headed west on I-88 toward I-80 and the Mississippi River.  We arrived at Lois’ farm just after 6:30 pm.  Lois milks only 15 La Mancha does (and produces some gorgeous bloomy rind cheeses), and she’s got some svelte milkers with impressive production records.  After a quick tour of her farm and creamery, we loaded up our three-week old buckling (after he got his evening bottle of milk of course) and started the journey home. 

new buckling

Immediately, he decided he needed to be near us, and climbed into the front seat for consolation.  I couldn’t help but indulge him, and he realized quickly that he could bend us to his will.  Before long, he was settled on my lap in slumber.  We arrived back home just after 1:00 am, having traveled over 840 miles with goats in tow.  Our new little guy has settled into life in the kid barn without fanfare; he’s a tremendous eater and has a magnanimous personality.  We have high hopes for his breeding prowess. 

Spring Open House

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of our Saturdays “Breakfast with Baby Goats,” but alas, Saturday April 30th is it.  We have some great food for you to savor, and we have several local farmers and food artisans who will be offering their products for sale. We’ll be open from 9:00 AM to 12 noon, but be mindful that some roads in Champaign-Urbana will be closed temporarily for the IL Marathon. Here’s a link to the Marathon route, so you can see how it might impact your travel plans to Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery.  Come meet our new breeding buckling “Cashew,” a gorgeous and strapping La Mancha from Reichert’s Dairy Air of Knoxville Iowa.  He’s a looker. 

Here’s the menu for breakfast:

  • Ramp & cheese Quiche (ramps from Cow Creek Farm)
  • Rhubarb Muffins  (with our rhubarb)
  • Southern-style Cornbread
  • Goat milk yogurt with maple syrup and muesli
  • Goat milk hot chocolate
  • Columbia St. Roastery Coffee
  • Cold, pasteurized goat milk

Here’s the lineup of cheeses we will have for tasting and for sale:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta
  • Spring plateau—get them while they last—they’re starting to get nice ‘n gooey inside
  • Moonglo
  • Goat milk yogurt-16 oz. and 32 oz. sizes

We have some new gelato flavors by the pint to share with you as well as flavors for single servings:

  • Fresh mint (chocolate mint steeped in the gelato base-herbal notes with mint-sublime)
  • Lemon balm-rose thyme-another beauty from our herb garden
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut (Nocciola)
  • Lemon Crème
  • Plum Swirl

From the dipping cabinet:Vanilla,Chocolate,Hazelnut, Espresso, Stracciatella

Other farmers/vendors:

We’re thrilled to welcome back Piemonte Sausage Co. to the farm.  They have finally finished construction of their new production facility, and we’ll have freshly made pork sausages (they will be frozen) for sale: Bernie's Classic Sweet Italian, Bernie's Classic Fennel Italian Sausage (slightly spicy), Cantalupo Italian Sausage (cantalupo is Italian and translates as "the song of the wolf", a spicy sausage containing fennel and of our best sellers) and  Colazione Italian Breakfast Sausage (a mild sausage with sage and other freshly ground spices). 

Cow Creek Farm will be here with spring ramps (wild leeks, harvested sustainably from their farm’s woodland). Tomahnous Farm will be here with plant starts, fresh herbs, ASPARAGUS!! and maybe some other spring greens.  She may even have some shitake mushrooms, but you’ll have to get here early if you want those.  Blue Moon Farm will be bringing us “napini” to sell—a bunched green that is basically flowering kale—it’s tender and amazingly delicious (I’m addicted to it-sauteed with some garlic and olive oil, salt & pepper-that’s all you need to do to prepare this wonderful green).  Idle Hour Maple will be here with several grades and sizes of their delicate maple syrup from Vermont. 

Farmers’ Markets and CSA Season Starts Next Week:

We’re on the eve of farmers market season—starting May 3rd, we’ll be at the first downtown Champaign Farmers’ Market (organized by The Land Connection).  Saturday May 7th is opening day for Urbana and Green City Markets. We are trying to figure out logistics for attending the downtown Bloomington Market on Saturdays too, but we might not make it to the first one.  Our Cheese and Gelato CSA season kicks off the week of May 11th-12th.  We will be making an announcement about cheese and gelato sales (in collaboration with Blue Moon Farm and Bane Family Meats) at the University of IL Research Park, also starting in May.  Last but certainly NOT least, we will be launching our farm store “The Real Stand” sometime in early May-stay tuned for details very soon.  LOTS happening this year-we look forward to bringing you all more cheese and gelato as well as other great farm-fresh products. 


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 4/21/2016 9:34pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

I’ve decided that Earth Day has special meaning for those of us in the farming community (as we make our living by the good graces the earth provides to us), and I’d like to make an annual habit of reflecting on its meaning.  The “holiday” was created by folks whose primary concerns were pollution and degradation of natural ecosystems.  Farming and its role in environmental stewardship were not really on the radar screen of the environmentalists of the ‘70s (except for those concerned about pesticides and their effects on wildlife—don’t forget Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”).  Yet farmers have long draped themselves in the cloth of “stewards of the land.” 

The concept of steward implies caretaker, nurturer. It has overtones of paternalism; somehow we know what is best for the land that we cultivate, and we make a pledge to work in the best interest of the land.  We have a deal: farmers take care of the land and the land sustains us.

The Native Americans, who benefited from this landscape before Europeans put the plow to it, had a slightly different relationship with the earth.  Don’t get me wrong; they manipulated their environment with fire and hunting.  However, they acknowledged that their ties to the land were temporary, and that they were just one of many species contributing to the earth’s overall well-being. 

We “modern” farmers span the spectrum from caretaker to manipulator.  Some of us strive to understand the natural forces that shape our land and our farms, while others try to simplify the complexity.  Not growing up in the lap of farming, and garnering my agricultural experiences through the lens of academia, I confess that I believed I could manipulate the environment according to the principles of sustainability.  After over a decade in the thick of it, I am humbled by the power and unpredictability of the land. I lean more closely to the philosophy of farmer as library card member; we borrow, we learn and then we return back to the ecosystem.  It’s really hard to be a farmer when you’re a control freak.  It’s really hard to embrace the chaos.  The best we can do is pay attention and listen intently to the voice of the earth. Happy Earth Day.

Spring Open House

We have two more Saturday Open Houses left in the 2016 season, so take advantage of the great weather to come out to the farm—Saturday, April 23rd from 9AM to 12 noon. In honor of Earth Day (and spring and Passover), we have a menu of foods from very close to the ground:

  • Potato Kugel (a casserole made with pomme de terre—“apples of the earth” in French, eggs and onions—another earth-touching crop). These potatoes were grown on our farm last year, and stored with care at Blue Moon Farm all winter.
  • Rhubarb muffins-our Rhubarb, a perennial crop is up and growing and we’re excited to share our first harvest with you.
  • Southern Style cornbread with honey and butter. Our cornmeal comes from Quality Organics (Severson Farm) and it’s very earthy in flavor. 
  • Goat milk yogurt with maple syrup and house-made muesli
  • Goat milk hot chocolate
  • Columbia St. Roastery Coffee
  • Cold, pasteurized goat milk

We have plenty of great spring cheese for you to taste and buy as well:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh, whole goat-milk ricotta
  • Spring Plateau-our little bloomy rind discs—they're cute and delicious, you'll want to buy two!
  • Moonglo
  • Goat milk yogurt (plain)-16 oz. and 32 oz. sizes

Once again, we’ll be serving gelato by the scoop and selling pints too:

In pints: Vanilla Chocolate Honey Chevre Lemon Crème Plum Swirl

As scoops: Vanilla Chocolate Stracciatella (chocolate ganache “chip”) Hazelnut Espresso

Our guest farmers include Tomahnous Farm with plant starts, fresh herbs and spring greens, Idle Hour Farm (Vermont Maple Syrup)—they’ll be bringing a few more grades of syrup and different sizes of containers for you to purchase and Delight Flower Farm—they’ll have some gorgeous spring bouquets. 

Farm Dinners and Brunches—time to take your place at the farm table

Our first farm dinner “Spring Italian” is just a couple of weeks away.  The chefs of Sunday Dinner Club (aka Honey Butter Fried Chicken) have crafted an exquisite menu replete with seasonal delights.  Believe it or not, we still have lots of seats for the Saturday dinner (May 7th) and a few seats for the Sunday (May 8th) Mother’s Day Brunch.  To get all the details and book your reservations, please click here.  While you’re there, check out the whole series and the June & July meals that are now open for ticket sales.  

Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 4/15/2016 9:39am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm news

You don’t really realize how long you’ve been holding your shoulders close to your ears all winter, until the coast is finally clear with freeze warnings.  Warm days in late winter and early spring lull you into a false sense that the cold days are over. Somehow, my body is onto this deception and doesn’t let go.  Only now, with the long-term forecasts staying well above 32F, that I am beginning to feel the thaw of frozen shoulders. 

The goats must sense this change as well.  They have taken on a heightened sense of friskiness in the past 24 hours.  The oldest kids are nearly ready for weaning, entering their “chew everything in sight” phase.  We moved the retired does and dry yearlings out to a section of the pasture yesterday, and even the old ladies are trotting around the field.  The milkers don’t need any coaxing to wander out to the pasture for grazing.  In fact, it’s hard to get them to come in for the evening milking.  Warmer, longer days: all of creatures pick up on these cues, telling us to relax, loosen up a bit, enjoy the renewed life around us.

Spring Open House: Week 5—Saturday (that’s tomorrow), April 18th from 9:00 AM to 12 noon

Guest Farmers this week: Tomahnous Farm will be bringing plant starts, fresh herbs and some spring greens. We’re welcoming a new young farmer to Open House this week. His family taps maple trees in Chittenden, Vermont under the name “Idle Hour Maple Syrup.”  Their farm, established in 2014, has produced two grades of maple syrup this year: both Grade A, Golden Delicate and Amber Rich. They hope to produce Dark Robust and Very Dark Strong as the year progressesBoth grades come in sizes: 3.4 fl.oz. 1/2 pints, pints, quarts and half gallons. Half-gallons are only available by order, but can be delivered to customers’ doors. Matt will be on hand to offer samples of his products, and we’ll be featuring his syrup in a couple of breakfast items too.  Both guest farmers will be set up just outside the barn under a tent.

Breakfast with Baby Goats:

  • Golden beet butter strata with Blue Moon Farm greens
  • Peach crostata
  • Southern style cornbread with honey and butter
  • Goat milk hot chocolate
  • Columbia Street Roastery Coffee
  • Cold pasteurized goat milk


  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Goat milk ricotta: it’s so fresh and sweet
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-our first batch of the season
  • Spring plateau- a fun little “lactic” bloomy rind disc that we made just ‘cause it’s spring!
  • Moonglo
  • Goat milk yogurt: this week we have two sizes—our normal 16 oz. (quart) and an 8 oz. container. We’ll be offering Idle Hour Maple Syrup and house-made muesli along with the 8 oz. yogurt if you want to eat it at the farm. 

Gelato: This week, in addition to pints, we’ve taken the dipping cabinet out of cold storage, cleaned it up, and we’ll be offering gelato by the scoop. YEAH!! You can even get some maple syrup drizzled on top of your gelato from Idle Hour Syrup.  Here are the flavors:

In pints: Vanilla, Chocolate, Honey Chevre, Lemon Crème, Plum Swirl

As scoops: Vanilla, Chocolate, Stracciatella (chocolate ganache “chip”),  Hazelnut, Espresso

Last chance for CSA sign up discount: TODAY (April 15th) is the last day to get a 5% discount on our CSA shares of cheese and gelato. If you’re one of those last minute procrastinators (I know, I suffer from that disease too), it’s time to act.  We will still take CSA members after April 15th; you just won’t get a discount on pricing. 

Tickets are still available for our first of the season Farm Dinner and Brunch (May 7th and May 8th) with Sunday Dinner Club.  The menu, featuring lamb from Caveny Farm, is Italian inspired and a total celebration of spring.  Please join us.  

Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 4/7/2016 10:25pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

With the girls’ udders as tight as drums with milk, we are moving the flowing white stuff into many products beyond cheese (yogurt, hot chocolate, gelato, baked goods).  This week, our new gelato maker began her training under Wes’ tutelage. Sarah comes to us with a fine frozen dessert pedigree; she and her brother started a wildly successful popsicle business in California, featuring seasonal and local flavors. 

sarah stewart

While there are many similarities with water-based popsicles, milk-based frozen desserts present unique challenges, most of them related to the physics of freezing.  Gelato, Italian style ice cream, is made with significantly less fat than American ice cream, and requires a perfect balance of solids and liquids to minimize the formation of large ice crystals.  To make really smooth and creamy gelato, the “gelatieri” (gelato maker) must develop recipes that account for the liquids and solids of each ingredient.  Interestingly, the small fat globules of goat milk help bridge the solids and liquids together, creating that luscious mouth-feel that many gelato aficionados crave. 

The art part of gelato making is all about developing the flavors. The stars are the purity and intense flavors of the ingredients we use—local fruits picked at peak ripeness, cold-pressed Madagascar vanilla (purchased direct from vanilla farmers), fresh herbs from our garden steeped in the warm base, pure hazelnut paste from the Piedmont region of Italy, etc. etc.  I also believe that restrained use of sugar is key to flavor development.  The final requirement is a good palate to know when the flavors are perfect.

Speaking of the physics of freezing, we have been on pins and needles this week with forecasts calling for night temperatures below 30 degrees and most of the peach trees in bloom and the pears just starting to break bud.  The high winds we experienced last weekend actually helped keep the frost from settling on the buds.  We’re now debating whether or not to spray our organic concoction of liquid seaweed and whey to coat the buds and keep the internal temperature just a few degrees higher than ambient. It doesn’t help that the weather folks are throwing precipitation into the mix.  We may have to default to fate—some varieties may not have fruit this year. 

Spring Open House—Breakfast with Baby Goats

The sun will be out on Saturday, April 9th and we will open our doors from 9 AM to 12 noon to warm you up with some hot breakfast treats:

  • Goat Milk Hot Chocolate
  • Columbia Street Roastery Coffee
  • Fresh pasteurized goat milk (we will also have some raw milk on hand for purchase-you must bring your own container). 
  • Flaky biscuit “bar” with assorted house-made jams and cheese
  • Savory quiche with either sausage or spinach and chevre fillings
  • Southern Style Corn Bread with butter and honey

It’s Mom’s Weekend at the University of Illinois, so students bring your moms out to the farm for breakfast and baby goats! We’re having another mini-baby boom, with our first time mothers (first-fresheners) starting to kid this week. Lots more very cute baby goats are here to greet you. 

We will have cheese, goat-milk yogurt and fresh gelato for sale:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Snow Fog: last chance for this gooey bloomy rind Jersey cow milk cheese—we’ll be serving it with our biscuits so you can taste it.
  • Fresh whole-milk ricotta—yes, it’s back and boy is it GOOD! Perfect for topping a pizza or a bowl of sautéed seasonal greens
  • Moonglo—our winter batches of raw milk tomme are flying off the shelves—get it while it lasts
  • Feta in olive oil—not too many jars left of this tangy treat either—first come-first served. 
  • Goat Milk Yogurt—it’s got a nice tang and very clean finish—comes in quart containers only

Gelato Flavors this week:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Plum Swirl
  • Honey-Chevre
  • Lemon Crème
  • Hazelnut

Tomahnous Farm will be here with AMAZING shitake mushrooms—they have tons of flavor. Lisa will also have bedding plants for sale and maybe a few greens.  Delight Flower Farm will be here too with bouquets of spring flowers (they’re saving them from the freeze as we speak).   

Don't forget to check out our Cheese and Gelato CSA. We have lots of flexibility built into our offerings and members get to sign up for an exclusive farm dinner at a VERY reduced price.  We now have pick up locations in Champaign (at the farm), Bloomington-Normal (with PrairiErth Farm and Henry's Farm CSA pick ups) and Chicago (with Mint Creek Farm CSA).  The deadline for a 5% discount is approaching--April 15th, so don't delay.  

Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 3/31/2016 10:09pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News: News Flash

The goats went on strike today.  To our amazement, they stormed the milking parlor, ripped out the inflations and refused to be milked.  Erica, our herd manager, was caught off guard, and tried her best to calm them with treats (she keeps animal crackers on hand for such occasions).  They did not back down. Their demands: more frequent milkings in early lactation (to relieve the pressure on their very full udders), more grain on the milk stand and a shorter lactation season overall (longer vacations basically).  Several of the older milkers demanded early retirement: “NO more babies,” they cried.  Their union boss, Endora, wielding her horns, gave the most forceful ultimatum: provide each doe with her own pasture and feed manger with perpetual third cutting alfalfa or they would all dry themselves off.  Such demands, such tough negotiators! 

We brought in our “tough guns” negotiators (well, that would be me and Wes—we’re really pushovers, but we can pretend to be tough when need be), and soon the tables were turned back in our favor.  Our concessions: a little more grain on the milk stand (well, we’re giving them some cracked corn to make it seem like there’s more grain) and frequent escorted visits to the prairie where they can eat all the cottonwood leaves their hearts desire.  The goat girls seemed to be satisfied with the settlement, heads buried in their grain bins on the milk stand this evening. (april fools). 

Friday April 1st (that’s tomorrow): downtown Bloomington’s “April First Friday” (5-8 PM).  I’ll be hangin’ with my friends from PrairiErth Farm (Atlanta IL) at the Coffee Hound.  We are partnering on a CSA pick up in Bloomington and we’ll be at the Coffee Hound sampling our products and even selling some cheese and gelato. I’ll have information about our Cheese and Gelato CSA and our “Dinners on the Farm” series.  We’re even extending our 5% discount through mid-April so we can encourage a few more folks to sign up for our CSA.

Saturday, April 2nd: 3rd  Farm Open House: Baby Goats and Breakfast: 9 AM to 12 Noon.  A number of our guests witnessed a birth last Saturday. Our yearlings (first time mothers) are due any day now, so you might get lucky again this weekend.  Our bakers are burning the late night oil (really a lot of butter) to make the following treats:

  • Buckwheat-oat and plum jam scones made with local organic Buckwheat flour from Severson Farm and rolled oats from Hazard Free Farm
  • Lemon-Chevre and Sumac Scones
  • Onion Jam and Chevre Galettes
  • Southern Style Cornbread with honey and butter (made with local cornmeal from Severson Farm)
  • Goat Milk Hot Chocolate Hot
  • Coffee from Columbia Street Roastery
  • Pasteurized, cold goat milk  

We will be selling cheese of course:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
  • Snow Fog: our cow milk camembert-it’s perfectly ripe and delicious right now.  Get it while it lasts. Try baking it with some toasted nuts and a few dollops of our plum jam. Sublime in carnate.
  • Feta in olive oil
  • Moonglo
  • HuckleberryBlue 
  • Goat milk yogurt

We have gelato by the pint too (vanilla, hazelnut, espresso, chocolate), a few packages of Piemonte sausage and a few dozen farm-fresh eggs.

Delight Flower Farm will be here too with early spring bouquets of daffodils, forsythia and other flowering branches.  Tomahnous Farm will be here with plant starts, a few early season veggies and maybe even some shitake mushrooms (better get here early for those). 

Cheese and Gelato CSA: We’re a bit short of our goal for 50 members this year, so I’ve decided to extend the deadline for receiving a 5% discount off the retail pricing if you sign up before April 15th. 

Farm Dinner Tickets: the first couple of dinners and Mother’s Day Brunch are nearly sold out, but there are a few seats left if you’d like to come.  There are plenty of seats available for the other dates. So, treat yourselves to a magical evening at the farm. 

Photography and Botanical Illustration Classes coming to the farm.  Check out our first class offerings of the season. In partnership with Cara Cummings of Cara's Garden,  we'll be offering food and farm photography classes and botanical illustration.  Cara is Super talented in both art forms, so don't miss out.  Click here for details and sign up.

Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 3/24/2016 10:03pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

March is always a blur on the farm, but the showers of babies have slowed to a trickle, and I find myself spending more time just hanging out in the kid barn watching them grow.  The oldest kids are now over one month old, and they’re beginning to eat more hay. They also “discovered” grain this week.  It often takes them several days to “get” grain; first they push it around with their hooves, then they take cautious nibbles, then they realize that it tastes really good and their nibbles become gobbles. We set up a series of milk-crate perches inside their pen, and they amuse themselves endlessly leaping from crate to crate playing king of the hill (sometimes queen). 

Planetary spring arrived officially this week, and the tell-tale signs are all around us.  The color of the grass has gone from muted brown-green to intense “fuji-chrome” green (how many of you remember Fuji Chrome slide film I wonder).  Our little wheat patch is growing. The rhubarb plants have sprouted several fuzzy vigorous leaves.  The best harbinger was a bald eagle who flew directly overhead one morning this week. I’ve never seen a bald eagle here; maybe it was just passing through, or maybe it will stay and make a nest.

Saturday Open House-March 26th This Saturday, Easter Weekend, we open our farm gates once again from 9 AM to 12 noon. We have a wonderful set of treats to tempt your taste buds:

  • Huckleberry Blue Cheese Scones
  • Mixed berry crumb Coffee Cake
  • Southern-style Cornbread (gluten free) with butter and honey
  • Goat Milk Hot Chocolate
  • Columbia Street Roastery Coffee

We will have plenty of cheese for you to buy:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Feta in Olive Oil
  • Snow Fog: perfect little cow’s milk bloomy rind—serve it warm with some of our plum jam
  • Moonglo
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Goat Milk Yogurt

We also have several styles of artisan pork sausages from Piemonte Sausage. We will be selling a few dozen of our farm’s eggs too (limited).  Of course, there will be gelato: vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, espresso and ginger. Blue Moon Farm will be at Urbana’s Middle Market from 9-11, but come visit us before or after you pick up your veggies (they will return to our farm next Saturday, April 2nd). 

Prairie Fruits Farm in Chicago this weekend: For those of you who live in or near Chicago, we encourage you to attend The Good Food Festival (at the UIC Forum) on Friday and/or Saturday, March 26-27. We have a booth in the vendor fair, and we’ll be sampling some fresh chevre and selling cheeses as well. Wes will be there to answer questions about our farm, our “Cheese and Gelato CSA” and our “Dinners on the Farm” series with Sunday Dinner Club and Paul Virant & Friends.  “A Farmer’s Road,” the documentary film about our farm, will be shown on Saturday afternoon at the festival.  Day tickets for the festival will get you into the screening. 



Classes are coming to Prairie Fruits Farm: The first farm classes are now available for sign up.  We’re partnering with Cara Cummings (Cara’s Garden) to host a photography series and a botanical illustration series.  To get all the details and to sign up, visit

botanical illustration

Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 3/17/2016 9:13pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Having passed the 100th kid born earlier this week, we’re in a relative calm spell with kidding season.  The balmy weather has breathed life back into our dormant orchard, and our “fruit girls” (that’s my nickname for Dani and Erica, the lovely ladies tending our orchard; Dani is one of our cheese makers and Erica is a baker oh so fine) have been spending long days furiously lopping branches for our annual orchard prune.  The high temps came with wind, lots of wind, gusty winds approaching 30-40 miles per hour.  They bravely climbed ladders (my mothering instincts gave me great concern about the combination of ladders and high winds), pruning shears in one hand, clinging to a lead branch with the other hand, racing against bud break.  The orchard floor is strewn with their handiwork. They also performed their first grafts on both apples and peaches.

Dani and Erica with their graft

With forecasts calling for lows in the high twenties over the next several days, it’s a roller coaster ride of anxiety: if trees break bud, we might lose some blossoms to freeze. The dilemma is what to do to prevent bud damage. The girls have done a lot of research, and we plan to try spraying cheese whey and liquid seaweed on the buds if frost is imminent.  The minerals and nutrients in these liquids will help keep the temperature around the buds slightly higher than the air temperature (that’s the theory at least).  While wind was our enemy during pruning, it might be our friend if the temperatures dip below the freezing point; wind prevents the frost from settling on the tender buds. You really need to strap yourself in tight if you’re going to grow tree fruits in the Midwest. 

prunings on the orchard floor

Farm Happenings and Other News

It’s finally here: our first Spring Open House is this Saturday, March 19th (aka “breakfast and baby goats”).  We open the farm to the public from 9 AM to 12 noon, rain or shine, starting this Saturday through the end of April (total of seven Saturdays ONLY).  Come visit with the goats (babies and adults alike), stroll the farm (check out the orchard while you’re here) and look for early signs of spring.  We will feed you too: 
  • Goat Milk Hot Chocolate (a la Mexicana with cinnamon)
  • Strong hot coffee from Columbia Street Roastery  
  • Garlic Mashed-Potato-Dilly Bean hand pies (some will be made with local corned beef)
  • Braided, Yeasted Fruit Bread filled with Prairie Fruits Farm Peaches
  • "Southern-style” (gluten-free) corn bread (made with local cornmeal) served with butter and jam

Of course we will be selling our luscious lemony fresh chevre and several other cheeses too:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, Cracked Pepper
  • Snow Fog: our winter cow’s milk camembert
  • Moonglo
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Feta in Olive Oil
  • Goat Milk Yogurt

How about some gelato?? We have pints for sale:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Ginger
  • Espresso

We will also be selling peach and apple branches that are about to burst open with beautiful flowers—perfect harbingers of spring to adorn your home.

Blue Moon Farm will be here with carrots, beets, potatoes, turnips, kale, salad mix, spinach, arugula and more!  We have sausages from Piedmonte Sausage as well (including our goat merguez and several styles of pork sausage). 

Farm Dinner Tickets are NOW on Sale for both Sunday Dinner Club on the Farm and Paul Virant & Friends series.  To get all the details and make your reservations, click HERE.  Don’t delay as these tickets are a hot commodity.

Consider signing up for our Cheese and Gelato CSA. It’s a great way to lock in great prices for a season’s worth of our cheeses and gelato.  We have pick up locations in Champaign Urbana (at the farm), Bloomington-Normal and Chicago (in partnership with Mint Creek Farm's CSA).  We’re running a 5% discount off retail prices through the end of March, so act now

Sneak Preview: Next weekend (March 25-26th) is The Good Food Festival in Chicago (UIC Convention Center).  Wes will be there on Friday and Saturday as part of the Good Food Festival Farmers’ Market and Vendor Fair. He will be bringing cheese and gelato, Chicago, so stay tuned for more details next week. Also, the Festival will be screening “A Farmers’ Road,” the documentary film about our farm.  If you haven’t had a chance to see the film, now’s your chance. It will be shown on Saturday afternoon, March 26th. You can purchase tickets for the day at the festival and attend the screening.

Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 3/11/2016 8:35pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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All this warm weather has given us spring fever. The goat milk is flowing, and we're making lots of fresh chevre.  If you forget what our luscious and lemony spring chevre tastes like, you can get some at the Urbana Middle Market TOMORROW (THAT'S SATURDAY, MARCH 12TH).  We will be there (inside Lincoln Square Mall at the north end of the market hallway (across from Blue Moon Farm and next to Sleepy Creek Winery) from 8AM to 12 NOON.  We have:
  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Feta in olive oil
  • Moonglo: our raw milk tomme--it's very creamy and has an almost cheddar-like taste
  • Magia Negra: our raw milk grating style cheese--nutty and sharp
  • Huckleberry Blue: our fall-batch raw milk blue--this is the last batch of the year, so get it while it lastsGoat Milk Yogurt--it's really thick and creamy this time of year, naturally (no added thickeners)
  • Goat milk gelato: vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, espresso, local ginger
  • Goat sausage: Moroccan style "merguez"

For those customers able to come out to our farm this weekend, we have a little extra raw milk that we will be selling. You must bring your own container. We'll be open for raw milk sales Saturday and Sunday afternoons, 1-5 PM. First come first served.  $14/gallon.  

Update on Farm Dinner Ticket Sales: Don't forget to check out our 2016 Farm to Table Meal season's dinner series with Sunday Dinner Club and Paul Virant (PV) & Friends.  Tickets for the PV dates are on sale NOW.  Sunday Dinner Club tickets will go on sale Monday, March 14th at 10 AM.  Click HERE for the link to their TOCK ticket sale page (Please note: YOU WON'T SEE OUR DINNER SERIES WITH SDC ON TOCK UNTIL MONDAY THE 14TH AT 10 AM; HOWEVER, YOU CAN SIGN IN (JUST NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS) AND FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS BEFORE THEN.)

Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 2/25/2016 9:55pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

The pattern of kidding seasons past is that snow storms bring torrents of baby goats. Yesterday’s predictions of blizzard conditions—50 mph winds, 8-9 inches of snow-stirred visions of trudging through knee-deep snow, cradling armfuls of new-born kids.  While we fought the winds on our frequent visits to the doe barn over the course of the day, neither the snow nor the kids amounted to much yesterday.  The two does who have kidded to date book-ended the storm: Gloria, one of our heavy-hitter La Mancha does, kidded with triplets on Monday, and Money Penny, a shy but solid La Mancha, kidded with a large single buckling this morning.

As I waited for Money Penny to deliver the bundle of hooves sticking out of her backside this morning, I witnessed a phenomenon all too common in the hierarchical world of the herd. She was challenged by Bambi while in full labor—head butting in full force. I tried to break it up, but it was clear they had to work it out on their own goat terms.  I stood aside, while Money Penny pushed the emerging kid back into her birth canal so she could fight back and focus on holding her place in the hierarchy.  Millie, our 10-year-old retired matriarch, intervened on behalf of the doe in labor; amazingly, she gently put her head between the two rivaling does and didn’t move until the tension de-escalated.  Millie the mediator; this is her new job title. 

The rest of the does are focused on two things: eating and reclining.  Some are so big they have to lie with their front legs under their sternum to prop themselves up.  As we refreshed their bedding after the storm, they luxuriated in a roll in the clean, dry straw.  It will be raining baby goats soon enough.

reclining pregnant does

These girls are huge. Photo by Elena Newmark.

a day in the straw

Nothin' better than a role in the straw, especially when it's fresh and clean. Photo by Elena Newmark.

Cheese sales and National CSA Sign-Up Day

Although our winter cheese “cupboards” are sparse, we have enough cheese to make it to Urbana’s Middle Market this coming Saturday, February 27th.  We’ll be there (close to the food court area, across from Blue Moon Farm) from 8AM to 1PM (or until we sell out).  The snow will be melting fast and furious as the temperatures reach 50 degrees, so come out and support your farmers at the tail end of winter.  We will have:

  • Cracked pepper chevre (it’s been frozen, but thaws beautifully)
  • Goat milk feta packed in extra virgin olive oil
  • Snow fog: our winter cow milk camembert-style cheese; rich, creamy and slightly gooey on the edges
  • Moonglo: fall-milk makes these batches of raw-milk tommes especially flavorful—slightly nutty, slightly sharp, perfect for slicing and eating
  • Huckleberry Blue: we only made a few batches of this cheese last fall, so if you love blue cheese, get some while it lasts
  • Magia Negra and Pelota Roja:  this is our hard, grating style (really very similar to a Manchego); one has a black currant paste on the rind, the other has guajillo chile paste on the rind.  Both have a great nutty flavor and are excellent for grating over a hearty stew or roasted vegetables.
  • We will also have a few pints of gelato (mostly chocolate), some of our farm-house plum jam and our goat milk soaps

Friday, February 26th is National CSA Sign-Up Day:  As many of you know, we have a cheese and gelato CSA for folks here in central IL (pick-ups at our farm and in two locations in Bloomington-Normal IL).  We partner with other farms (Bane Family Meats and Delight Flowers) to offer our central IL members meat eggs and flower shares in addition to our products.  It is NOT too late to take advantage of a 10% discount off our central IL CSA NOW through the end of February. 

We have just established a NEW partnership with Mint Creek Farm CSA (Stelle, IL).  While we have been farm friends for a number of years, we share a lot of the same ideals for high animal welfare and pasture-based livestock production practices.  Here’s a little background about Mint Creek Farm and their CSA:

"Mint Creek Farm started as a small 50 acre “passion” farm with sheep and laying hens in 1992,  and has since grown to a 220 Certified-Organic acre farm including sheep, goats, pigs, cows, and poultry. Rotational grazing and local organic, non-GMO, soy-free feed make our products some of the highest quality available in the area. We offer our premium quality meat and eggs in a variety of different CSA options for pick-up or delivery around the city of Chicago. We suggest our Just Protein weekly CSA or our Traditional 10lb. monthly CSA for pairing with cheese and gelato, though we will offer all our CSA options for Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery's 6-month season. Please check out our website for more information about our different CSA options and to sign up for our CSA."

mint creek farm pastured poultry

Signing up for a season of farm-fresh products in winter is significant to many farmers. As seasonal producers, the late winter influx of resources helps us get a jump-start on the coming growing and producing season.  Because we value our CSA members so highly, we offer them special perks: discounts on retail prices of our products, special “CSA-member only” cheese styles and gelato flavors and a special CSA member-only farm dinner.  Support your local farmers and sign-up TODAY!

In the works: for those of you who work or live close the University of IL Research Park, we are planning a “pay as you go” style CSA for this growing season. We are partnering with Blue Moon Farm (certified organic vegetables) and Bane Family Meats and possible a few other local farmers to offer weekly pick-ups of fresh veggies, cheese, meats, eggs, gelato, honey and other products. Stay tuned for more details.  We hope to start this project in April or May of this year.   

Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.

Posted 1/26/2016 2:20pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Having never made cheese in winter before, I have struck by the comfort I find in ladling curd when it’s cold, grey and snowy outside.  There is something about the scent of the fresh milky curd, the beautiful yellow cream line and the rhythm of ladling curd into forms that warms my spirits.  I admit that I was worried I would be too tired and too emotionally spent to muster enthusiasm for winter cheese making, but we’re only making one batch of cow milk cheese every two weeks, and this pace suits me fine. 

How fitting to experience a little bit of true winter last week with a light snow fall followed by a night of fog.  We awoke to a clichéd landscape of “winter wonderland” as all vertical vegetation was coated in a fine fuzz of frozen fog.  How fitting that our cow’s milk winter cheese is called “snow fog.” 

Real snow fog

Farm Product Sales and Other Important Matters Saturday Sale at Urbana’s Lincoln Square Mall (in Front of Piato's Food Court)—Saturday, January 30th 9:00-11:00 AM. Once again, we are partnering with Blue Moon Farm to offer our customers some cheese, gelato, farm eggs and few other items:

  • Chevre (previously frozen): plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—we have limited supplies of herbs de Provence, but plenty of plain and cracked pepper
  • Goat milk feta packed in olive oil—we decided to dress up our remaining fall feta so you can enjoy a special treat over the winter. Jars contain a little less than ½ lb. feta in a bath of extra-virgin olive oil—super delicious
  • Snow Fog: this is our second batch of this creamy, unctuous cow milk bloomy rind. It’s young but quite tasty
  • Moonglo: our fall raw-milk tomme; creamy, slightly sharp—perfect for melting on a burger or just slicing and eating
  • Huckleberry Blue: This fall batch is lightly veined, but has a great smooth texture and sufficient “blue-ness” to satisfy the blue cheese lover in your life
  • Magia Negra: the firm and nutty raw-milk cheese that can be grated, shaved or sliced. 
  • Gelato: Chocolate and maybe vanilla (very limited)
  • Yogurt: quarts of plain, jersey cow milk yogurt (made with Kilgus whole milk)-very limited quantities
  • Farm Eggs:  our hens are laying despite the cold weather—we’ll bring a few dozen to sell.

Farm Events-here and far

It’s not too late to sign up for our very first winter “Dinner & A Movie,” this coming Sunday, January 31st (5-9 PM).  We’re really excited to welcome chef Ryan Lewis (Driftwood Eatery, Springfield IL) to the farm.

Ryan Lewis and his ham

His menu is shear comfort food, crafted with MOSTLY locally sourced ingredients (yes, this is possible, even in winter).  The film, “A girl From Paris” is a charming tale of a city girl who decides to become a goat farmer in rural France (sound familiar?? Except for the French venue). 

A girl from Paris

Farm CSA: Don’t forget to check out our cheese & gelato CSA.  We also have shares for Bane Family Meats meat, poultry and eggs and Delight Flowers flower shares.  We’re currently offering a 10% discount on sign-ups before the end of February. DON’T DELAY! Sign up TODAY!!

Screenings of “A Farmer’s Road” -- If you missed the screening of the documentary film about our farm, there are several upcoming screenings in central IL, Chicago and Beloit, Wisconsin.  To get the specifics of all the film’s happenings, check out the website.  The most immediate screening will be this Saturday, January 30th in conjunction with Slow Food Springfield’s local food festival: The next opportunity is February 16th as part of the Illinois Farmers’ Market Association’s Annual Conference and Fundraiser in Chicago: 

A Farmer's Road


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. 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.