Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 7/23/2013 9:58pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

This week's farm open house has some GREAT summer local foods in store for you.  Come out to the farm tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon for cheese, gelato, veggies, berries, eggs, meat, yarn and breads.  There are a lot of "first of the seasons" you won't want to miss.  

Cheese: We've got plenty of fresh and creamy chevre, an assortment of bloomy rind cheeses, sheep milk feta, Roxanne (our firm, buttery sheep milk cheese) and Blue two ways--Huckleberry Blue (goat milk blue) and the debut of our spring Eldon (sheep milk blue). Come out and try them both!

Gelato by the pint and by the scoop (flavors with an asterisk):

  • Vanilla*
  • Chocolate*
  • Hazelnut
  • Strawberry
  • Mint Stracciatella** that's fancy chocolate ganache chip in a mint gelato background (Whoa!)
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme
  • Blackberry Creme (with our very own blackberries)*
  • Thai Basil* YES, it's BACK
  • Ginger Ricotta (smooth and gingery)
  • Honey Lavender
  • Cucumber Lime Mint Sorbetto -this is the epitome of summer
Tomahnous Farm: summer veggies, plants, blueberries and raspberries

Lucky Duck Farm: chicken and duck eggs, grassfed ground beef, ham steaks, yarn from their Icelandic sheep wool and asian cucumbers

Stewart's Artisan Breads: rustic sourdough breads, bagels, cookies and granola

Laurence the Knife Dude: sharpening your dull knives while you shop. Laurence will be on vacation in the middle of August, so his last day of knife sharpening at our farm will be August 7th.  Don't delay if you want to have your knives sharpened. He does an EXCELLENT job.

Prairie Fruits Farm U-pick: At last, our fruit is beginning to ripen with abandon, and we have enough of our early blackberries to offer u-pick tomorrow during open house hours.  This variety, called Chester, has huge berries that are sweet and juicy. We are charging $3/pint and $5/quart for u-pick. We provide picking buckets and pint/quart containers.  You provide the fingers for picking.  Wes will be out in the berry patch which is on the north end of our farm. To get there, continue north on Lincoln past our driveway and our neighbor's brick house. Just past their house, turn into the field on the right where the grey hoop barn is located. Wes will be there to show you where to pick.  Once you're done picking, you can come back up to the farm and reward yourself with some gelato.  

Posted 7/22/2013 6:32pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Hello CSA members:

Once again, it is time for another allotment of delicious bread, cheese and gelato. Here is the schedule for pickups this week:

  • Peoria, Tuesday, July 23rd: Marcella Teplitz house from 5 to 6PM
  • Normal (1st Presbyterian Church): Tuesday, July 23rd, from 4:30 to 5:30PM
  • Bloomington (Unitarian Church): Tuesday, July 23rd from 6 to 7PM
  • Wednesday, July 24th: Springfield (Farmers' Market at Katic Bread farm stand): 8AM to 11AM
  • Wednesday, July 24th, Prairie Fruits Farm: 4 to 6PM
  • Friday, July 26th, Naperville Tennis Club: 3:30 to 5:30PM

If you are not able to pick up your shares, please have a friend or family member pick them up for you.  If that is the case, please let me know and send me their name, phone number and email address.  

Just a reminder for those of you who signed up for the CSA farm dinner and want to purchase an additional seat, please send me (Leslie) a check for $45 to reserve the extra seat. The date for the dinner is Sunday October 13th from 3 to 6PM.  

Thank you. I hope your summer is going well, and you're enjoying your shares of cheese, bread and gelato.

leslie & Carissa

Posted 7/18/2013 10:23pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

It’s county fair season.  Throughout central Illinois (and much of the Midwest), the folks who raise goats for show are busy clipping, trimming, bathing and generally gussying up their goats to compete in the show ring. Being a production dairy, we haven’t been drawn to the show ring ourselves, but we have sold many of our doe kids and a few milkers to other folks who do show.  In fact, one of the people who milks for us part time is a certified judge for the American Dairy Goat Association and has bought a few of our does and bucks over the past several years. She has taught me a lot about dairy goat conformation (how an animal is put together, and how to achieve the ever elusive “dairyness” of a doe) and has helped me improve the genetics of herd overall. While I have never been a big fan of “beauty contests,” I have to admit that I do swell with pride when does born on our farm do well in the show ring. 


Nikki takes home "grand reserve champion" at the Fisher Fair

This past week, several of the does from our farm took home awards: “grand reserve champion,” ”first place in her class,” “second place in her class,” and the grandmother of them all “supreme grand champion” (that was one of our yearling does “Rose” who we sold to a lovely family in Indiana).  Supreme grand champion means the “best goat” in the whole show among all breeds, which happened to include over 450 goats!!! We knew she was beautiful, but we had NO idea how much.  I congratulate our does who have produced these award winners. Though they aren’t afforded the chance to compete directly, they can celebrate their offsprings' achievements in dairyness vicariously. 

Farmers’ Markets

We’re attending two markets this Saturday: Urbana and Chicago’s Green City Market.  It will be hot, so be sure to bring coolers and ice packs to ensure safe transit of your cheese and gelato.  We’ve got the usual summer lineup of cheese for you:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked black peppercorn
  • Fresh goat milk ricotta—I have been topping some fresh sautéed green beans (with garlic of course) with ricotta and truffle salt and man is this delicious!! Try it with broccoli too!
  • Sheep milk feta-the missing link for a perfect tomato salad
  • An array of bloomy rind cheeses likely to include Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie, Ewe Bloom and Black Sheep—try putting any of these on the grill for a brief stint and then serving them warm with a tart jam
  • Roxanne—our firm sheep milk Pyrenees style cheese-it begs to be melted-grilled cheese or cheese burger anyone?
  • Huckleberry Blue-our raw goat milk blue cheese wheels are wrapped in pear brandy-soaked sycamore leaves—do you need any more enticement to try this cheese?

It is truly gelato eating weather, so here’s the lineup (* indicates flavors available at Green City Market: PLEASE NOTE: we have very limited quantities available for Green City this week so come early if you want gelato):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Mint*
  • Strawberry*
  • Stracciatella
  • Lemon Balm Thyme*
  • Nectarine Sorbetto* (someone who tasted this on Wednesday said it tasted BETTER than a fresh nectarine)
  • Autumn Berry Sorbetto (tart and delicious)

Many of you have been calling about availability of fruit for U-Pick. I am happy to announce that we will likely have blackberries available for U-pick next Wednesday during our farm open house hours. Stay tuned for my update on Tuesday about details for u-pick.  The blackberries are huge, sweet and juicy!!!

Posted 7/17/2013 10:38am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

It's here: the summer heat, the pavement that could fry an egg. Not the case at Prairie Fruits Farm. Come on out today from 4 to 6PM to cool off and enjoy a scoop or two of gelato.  Summer fruits are here and we've got the sorbettos to proove it:

  • Peach
  • Nectarine
  • We've also got some smooth & creamy gelato:
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Strawberry
  • Hazelnut
  • Mint
  • Honey Lavender
  • Lemon Balm Thyme
  • Stracciatella

Need some cheese to take home to get you through the week? We've got that too (chevre, feta, some bloomy rind cheeses, some Roxanne).  We may even harvest some Rainbow chard and Kale from our vegetable garden for you to cook up and serve. 

How about farm fresh eggs (chicken and duck), grass fed ground beef and pastured pork? Lucky Duck Farm will be bringing those as well as their Icelandic sheep yarn.

How about summer veggies--green beans, herbs (basil anyone for tomato and basil salad), berries? Tomahnous Farm will be bringing a little bit of summer veggie goodness.

Stewart is back from vacation and so his breads, cookies and granola will be here too.

Of course, Laurence, the knife dude, will be setting up his wet stone so he can sharpen your dull knives while you shop and visit the farm.  

We've got plenty of shade for you to sit under, so come on out and get some relief from the heat. We hope to see you here!

Posted 7/11/2013 9:32pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

We actually left the farm last weekend. We took a trip, a plane ride to Boston to be exact, to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday.  It’s been over four years since Wes and both, together, were able to leave the farm in the height of our season.  Our staff held it all together beautifully—no catastrophes (at least none that we were made aware of), good markets, no illness outbreaks.  With the glow of time away still clinging to our clean clothing, we arrived back home Monday evening just as the dusk was turning into darkness. It was a new moon, so the darkness came abruptly. As we approached our mailbox, I could barely make out some large dark creatures walking along the road.  Before I had time to discern whether they were wild or domesticated, I realized they were our pigs.  They were walking briskly (actually, they were trotting) down Lincoln Avenue, clearly with a mission on their minds.   We sprinted into action; Wes pulling the car off to the side of the road; me jumping out and attempting to herd them back towards the driveway.  My usual goat calls seemed ineffectual, so I just started walking and miraculously, they followed me.  We walked along the edge of the garden as I tried to maneuver them away from growing vegetables.  Their low pitched grunts suggested they were enjoying their evening stroll (probably chuckling in pig lingo at our folly). Wes ran to get some grain to entice them back into their pasture paddock (now looking like a bombed out mud mine field) and miraculously, they went in.  City clothes now covered in mud, it was clear that our trip off the farm was over.

In keeping with the theme of livestock on the run, we had another breakout yesterday. The vets came out yesterday to evaluate some of our goats who have been plagued with intestinal parasites.  As we walked out to the pasture to examine a few of the does, one of the vets asked if it was proper for the goats to be on the other side of the fence—the side where the orchard is located.  I looked in that direction, only to watch the does pull down the woven wire fence and hurl themselves over the compost pile toward the lush apple trees.  Like pirañas drawn to blood in the water, they pulled down branches to devour whole apples and apple tree leaves.  With the vets prodding and coaxing, we tried to pull them away from the trees and steer them back toward the barn.  Our cajoling had a strong element of futility. Really, it wasn’t until Ben, our sometimes herdsman and jack of all trades, came to the rescue and worked his goat whisperer magic voice on them to pry them away from the fruit trees and corner them back into the barn.  Blue, the supposed herding dog, watched from the other side of the fence as a few renegade does tried to make their way back toward the fruit trees.  My only explanation for this rash of escapes (and escapades) is the lack of gravitational pull from the waxing moon. 

goats in the orchard

Farmers’ Markets News

We’re attending just one farmers’ market this weekend: Urbana’s Market at the Square. The weather should be glorious, so if you’re in town, the market will be THE place to be on Saturday. We’ll be well stocked with cheese:

  • Fresh chevre—plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh goat milk ricotta—perfect as a breakfast treat drizzled with honey and dotted with fresh berries
  • Sheep milk feta—man, this cheese is mighty tasty on a crisp cool salad--perfect with the arrival of tomatoes and cucumbers at the market
  • An array of bloomy rind cheeses likely to include Little Bloom on the Prairie, Angel Food (our brie), black goat and maybe an appearance of Ewe Bloom and Black Sheep
  • Roxanne—the Pyrennees style “brebis” has lovely notes of butter and grass
  • Huckleberry Blue—our raw goat milk blue wheels that have been lovingly wrapped in pear brandy soaked sycamore leaves—it’s beauty AND brawn (that is full flavor)
wheel of huckleberry blue

With Stewart, our gelatieri, on vacation, the repertoire of gelato this week is somewhat minimalistic. However, Wes will don the Carpigiani Gelato University cap tomorrow to spin some flavors for this weekend. You can expect:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Cajeta Swirl (that’s goat milk caramel gelato with a caramel swirl)
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme
  • Maple Yogurt
  • Pistachio
  • Honey Lavender
  • Margot’s Fresh Mint

Come on out to sample some of these creations and take a pint or two home. It’s perfect weather for gelato eating.  

Posted 7/10/2013 8:15am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Alas, it's Wednesday and I am just getting around to reminding you of our weekly farm open house and on farm sale. Yes, it's TODAY from 4 to 6PM this afternoon.  We will have everything for sale set up inside the barn in case of rain drops. Also, you can check out our new display of goat milk soaps and Prairie Fruits Farm T-shirts.  We've got a beautiful fire-engine red table that was rescued from the old Homer High School many many years ago.  

We've got cheese, gelato by the scoop and pint too.  Come see what our guest farmers have picked fresh out of their fields: Tomahnous Farm, Lucky Duck Farm and Hendrick House will have veggies, eggs, meats, herbs and beautiful salad greens. Stewart's Artisan Breads is on vacation this week, but Laurence the knife sharpening dude will be here to sharpen your knives while you visit the farm and shop. 

Of course, the goats are "hungry" for visitors as are the pigs and Blue the dog.  The garden is growing as if we've injected steroids in the irrigation water (no we haven't! we're organic), so you can stroll around and marvel at mother nature with timely rains.

U-pick fruit season is just around the corner. Stay tuned for details about dates, what's in season and how it all works.  

Posted 7/4/2013 10:27pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

It’s the fourth of July. Outside, I hear the explosions of fireworks. The night is calm, mild. Our fields have their own version of fireworks tonight—the fireflies flicker in multitudes over emerging soybeans and vegetables.  This week my sister and her family visited us from Boston.  My nephew and niece, one off to college, the other starting middle school, immersed themselves in the life of the farm.  Milking at 5:30AM, feeding screaming baby goats, weeding the garden, mulching the tomatoes; they seemed to relish the hard work and the rhythm of routine. 

drew with milkers

Ali with Alil the goat
It wasn’t all drudgery; however.  One day, we visited our neighbor’s yard and picked gorgeous fire-engine red tart cherries. We brought them home, broke out the cherry pitter and within a flash, turned those cherries into a warm cherry crisp for dessert.  Of course, it was served with each person’s favorite flavor of goat milk gelato. 

cherry picking Ali

Farmers’ Markets

This Saturday, July 6th, we’re attending two farmers’ markets: Urbana and Chicago’s Green City Market. We’re celebrating our nation’s leap of faith into independence and freedom. So, keep up the holiday spirit this weekend and let the cheese set you free.  OK, you can let gelato set you free too.  Here’s what we plan to bring to market:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—you need lots of this creamy chevre for the salads, cold pasta dishes and crostini you’ll be preparing for all your holiday guests
  • Fresh goat milk ricotta: YES, it’s back after a few weeks’ hiatus. It’s sweet and delicious—perfect for a berry-laden dessert
  • Sheep milk feta—it’s got the tang you’re craving, so take some home this weekend
  • Bloomy rind cheeses—Little Bloom on the Prairie for sure, maybe a few others of your favorite gooey friends
  • Roxanne: our take on a sheep milk brebis—it’s buttery, melts well and works great with a burger or cheese dog hot from the grill
  • Huckleberry Blue: our raw goat milk blue, wrapped in pear brandy-soaked sycamore leaves from our farm—it’s a creamy, sweet and tart blue that will feel like fireworks in your mouth!

Need something cold to accompany all those cherry pies you’re making? How about some delicious goat milk gelato. Gelato flavors for Urbana include:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Pistachio
  • Strawberry
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme
  • Cajeta Swirl
  • Tart Cherry Stracciatella
  • Honey Lavender
  • Vanilla Chevre
  • Peach Sorbetto (made with peaches from Mileur Orchard in Murphysboro, IL)

Green City Market Gelato Flavors include:

  • Lemon Balm-Thyme
  • Honey Lavender
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla Chevre
  • Pumpkin
  • Margot’s Mint
Posted 7/4/2013 9:55pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Hello CSA members:

Once again, it is time for another allotment of delicious bread, cheese and gelato. Here is the schedule for pickups this week:

  • Peoria, Tuesday, July 9th: Marcella Teplitz house from 5 to 6PM
  • Normal (1st Presbyterian Church): Tuesday, July 9th, from 4:30 to 5:30PM
  • Bloomington (Unitarian Church): Tuesday, July 9th from 6 to 7PM
  • Wednesday, July 10th: Springfield (Farmers' Market at Katic Bread farm stand): 8AM to 11AM
  • Wednesday, July 10th, Prairie Fruits Farm: 4 to 6PM

Just a reminder for those of you who signed up for the CSA farm dinner and want to purchase an additional seat, please send me (Leslie) a check for $45 to reserve the extra seat.

Thank you and happy summer eating.

leslie & Carissa

Posted 7/2/2013 8:05pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

The 4th of July is a great holiday to celebrate our FOOD independence. What better way to celebrate than to visit us on Wednesday, July 3rd for our summer open house. We'll be open from 4 to 6 PM.

Of course, every FOURTH OF JULY picnic should have some cheese, so we can set you up with:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence and cracked black pepper (our version of the "red, white and blue")
  • Sheep milk feta
  • Angel Food Brie
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie
  • Huckleberry Blue (now that's the holiday spirit)
  • Roxanne (an independent minded goat has her namesake on this spanish style sheep milk cheese)

Need some gelato to top off that cherry pie?  (* indicates single servings available as well as pints):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate * 
  • Hazelnut
  • Pistachio
  • Strawberry*
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme*
  • Honey Lavender*
  • Vanilla Chevre
  • Tart cherry Stracciatella*
  • Cajeta Swirl*
  • Peach Sorbetto* made with peaches from Mileur Orchard in Murphysboro IL--it's sublime

We've got a very special guest farmer coming to visit us this week: Sticky Pete's Maple Syrup. Here's the sweet deal on their beautiful liquid amber:

Situated in the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio, Sticky Pete's Pure Maple Syrup began in 1996 by John Berry and Laura McManus.  Presently Laura McManus works a 2,000 tap sugarbush.  Their label is a tribute to their faithful dog Petey who was with them every step of the process, from gathering sap in the woods, to boiling in the sugarhouse, to bottling the delicious golden amber on its way to the market.  Sticky Pete's is owner operated.  Laura is a member of the Ohio Maple Syrup Association and is dedicated to a quality assured product.
8 oz bottle  -    $10.00
12 oz bottle -   $12.00
Pint jug         -  $15.00
Quart jug       -  $25.00
She will also have maple coated nuts - peanuts, almonds and pecan nougats,  and granulated maple sugar.

The usual suspects will be here as well:

Tomahnous Farm will be bringing fresh veggies, berries (probably blueberries and raspberries--another critical component of the "red, blue and white" local holiday celebration)

Lucky Duck Farm will have farm fresh chicken and duck eggs, grassfed beef and ham steaks along with beautiful flower bouquets to adorn your holiday tables

Stewart's Artisan Breads will have an assortment of bagels, breads, cookies and granola

Laurence the Knife Sharpening dude will also be here to sharpen your knives while you shop and visit with the animals. 

The garden is lush, come see the baby peaches growing on the trees (soon to be ripe for u-pick we hope), the animal await you!! Celebrate FOOD independence in style. Come on out to Prairie Fruits Farm tomorrow afternoon!

Posted 6/28/2013 8:34am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

Hidden treasures in central IL: Last Sunday afternoon, during what normally would be our few hours of rest time, we decided to venture over to the Sharp’s Crossing Lavender farm on Highway 45 just south of Tomasboro.  They were hosting one of only two weekend u-pick events. The lavender is in bloom full force in late June in this part of the world (who knew!), and we wanted to pick some for our delicious honey lavender gelato. Yes, there is a lavender farm in central Illinois, nestled quietly amongst the corn and soybean fields.  It is truly a gem. As you pull off the highway onto their driveway, you encounter a sweet simple farm house. The driveway curves around to reveal the lavender beds and large white old barn.  People are stooped over the field, scissors in hand, cutting away. Inside the barn, you are overcome by the scent of drying lavender, the explosion of purple everywhere.  The owner, Jan, greets you and hands you a pair of shears for clipping.  We go back outside to cut our bunches.

wes in lavender
Maybe it’s the sedative effects of breathing lavender essence, but after several minutes of cutting flowers, I feel a strange sensation of calm waft over me.  I begin to take in the strange juxtaposition of lavender against soybean, and the bees buzzing from flower to flower remind me of the importance of oases. 

Pigs on the move: Finally, this week, it was time to move the pigs from their now barren pig enclosure to “greener pastures.”  Although I wasn’t present to witness the actual running of the pigs, I heard second hand that their trek occurred with little fanfare.  The Arkansas black pigs were the most compliant, while the Red Waddles showed some signs of feralness.  A little bit of mash to coax them on their way was all it took to smooth the move down the driveway to the pasture enclosure.  They settled in immediately, rooting into new ground, sloshing in the new wallows to make them just right, pushing the straw around to accommodate their rapidly growing bodies.  Their neighbors, the goat kids, came to the fence immediately to check them out—busybody characters that they are.  Their curiosity got the best of them as they tried to breach the now hot (electrified) fence to get an even closer look.  The pigs unfazed, dug deeper into their wallows—the epitome of porcine bliss.

goat meets pig

Farmers’ Markets, Farm Dinner this Weekend

This weekend, we’re attending the Urbana Farmers’ Market only.  We’re debuting the first spring batch of Roxanne, our sheep milk brebis cheese (it’s inspired by Pyrenees style cheese). 

It’s a semi-firm cheese, with slight sharpness, and some buttery notes.  Great for slicing and eating or for melting on one of those burgers you plan to cook on the grill this weekend.  We’ll also have more of our delicious spring milk Huckleberry Blue.  In addition, we’ll have:

  • Plenty of cool and creamy chevre: plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
  • Sheep Milk Feta—perfect for your salads now that cucumbers and tomatoes abound at the farmers’ markets
  • An assortment of bloomy rind cheeses including Little Bloom on the Prairie, Angel Food, Black Goat and Ewe Bloom—all perfect to pack for a summer afternoon picnic

Our gelato flavor repertoire is growing as the list of local ingredients comes on the scene:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Tart Cherry Stracciatella (one of my favorites)
  • Vanilla Chevre (made with our chevre, of course)
  • Honey Lavender (made with the last of last year’s honey and Sharp’s Crossing lavender)
  • Fresh Fig (made with local figs!!)
  • Lemon Balm Thyme
  • Maple Yogurt
  • Local Strawberry
  • Pistachio

Make sure you bring a cooler with ice packs to take your gelato home safely given the heat.

We have another farm dinner tomorrow evening, and I have a couple of last minute cancellations leaving four seats available. The theme is “Summer Vegetarian” with guest chef Thad Morrow, of Bacaro Restaurant in Champaign. The menu is posted on our website.  Just scroll down to the date and theme to see it.  If you would like to purchase those seats, email me at I will take them first come first served.