News

Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 7/25/2011 6:49pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Take advantage of this temporary lull in the heat "dome" and journey out to our farm tomorrow afternoon. From 3 to 7PM, you can stroll around the farm AND purchase some ofour wonderful cheeses and gelati. This week's gelato flavors include:
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Honey Chevre
  • Blueberry-Lemon Verbena Sorbetto
  • Peach Sorbetto (made with the very first of our mouth-watering organic peaches)

Blue Moon Farm will be here FROM 3-5PM ONLY (SO GET HERE EARLY) with plenty of salad mix, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes and much much more. 
Pekara Bakehouse may be here as well with their breads and cookies.
We hope to see you here!

Stay tuned for U-Pick hours for NEXT week--the peaches and blackberries are just starting to ripen this week.
Posted 7/22/2011 10:49am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
The big news this week is that our 1000th batch of cheese (yes, that's right we're in our 6th year as a farmstead creamery and we make at least seven to nine batches of cheese per week--i'll let you do the rest of the math) is ready for sale this week. We named her "Millie" after one of our best milkers, Millie, who was also our first-born doe (along with her twin sister Tillie) on the farm AND the latin for 1000 (milli).  It is a lovely geotrichum (that's a delicate white mold) rinded log made with 70% goats' milk and 30% sheeps' milk.  It has a creamy mouth feel despite the somewhat drier texture relative to our cheve. It would be wonderful with a cool salad or just slice it and put it on a piece of baguette with a slice of heirloom tomato drizzled with some good olive oil. 
Millie Cheese
"Millie Cheese" (photo by Ben Jarrell--yes, that is Wes' son)

FARM NEWS
I could talk about the heat and all that stress associated with heat, but I know everyone is hot and miserable, so I will spare you.  We are doing our best to keep the goats comfortable with plenty of cool water and fresh forage. The fans are blowing a mile a minute inside the barns.  Tomatoes love this heat, and they are ripening a lot faster than last year. In fact, we harvested our first round of Juliette tomatoes (those wonderfully rich mini-romas) which we dried so we can start making our heirloom tomato chevre next week.  The bright side of the heat is that everyone NEEDS to eat gelato.  We have reinforced our stocks this week so we have plenty for our Urbana Farmers' Market goers. 
FARMERS' MARKETS
We're attending three markets this Saturday, JULY 23RD: Urbana, Bloomington and Oak Park. 
We have a fantastic lineup of cheeses for you:
  • Plenty of cool and creamy fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Angel Food ---goat milk brie
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie--goat milk camembert
  • Ewe Bloom
  • Baby Black Sheep
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne--making its 2011 debut--a raw sheep milk Pyrennes style of cheese, semi-hard and slightly sweet-grassy flavor
  • Huckleberry Blue-our spring milk blue--stocks are dwindling, so come and get it before it's gone--think burgers with blue cheese or crumble it on a salad
  • MILLIE CHEESE--our delicate log of deliciousness
Stewart and Wes have been busy spinning gelato this week to keep you all cool with sweetness.  Gelato Flavors include:
  • Simply Vanilla
  • Luscious Chocolate
  • Strawberry (the last of the season)
  • Tart Summer Cherry
  • Black Raspberry
  • Hazelnut (Nocciola)
  • Pistachio Siciliano
  • Essence of Chocolate Mint
  • Honey Lavender
The last two flavors are especially sweet because Wes is making them with his grand-daughter Margot (who is visiting us with her parents this week).  She is an excellent little helper (future farm labor perhaps???)

STATUS OF FRUIT AND ON FARM SALES NEXT TUESDAY JULY 26TH
Many of you have been asking about our peaches and blackberries, and I am happy to report that our peaches are very close to being ready for picking. We will let everyone know next week when we will start up our U-Pick season again. We may even have some to harvest for our Tuesday Farm Sale. Don't forget: It's 3-7PM every Tuesday.  Blue Moon Farm will be here with veggies, we'll have our cheeses and gelato and some of our own veggies. Pekara Bakehouse might be here if the weather isn't too hot. See you then.
Posted 7/19/2011 8:12am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
beanstalks
Want to hide from the heat?? Come out to the farm today from 3-7PM and plant yourself between our beanstalks to cool off. If that doesn't do it, come cool off with some freshly made goat milk gelato or sorbetto. We'll have vanilla, creme fraiche, chocolate, strawberry, tart cherry, black raspberry, hazelnut and pistachio AS WELL AS cool melon sorbetto.
gelato
We also have some wonderful savory cheeses to accompany all those veggies you'll be able to buy from BLUE MOON FARM. They'll be here from 3-5PM ONLY with salad mix, cucumbers and plenty of tomatoes (among other veggies).
If those aren't reasons enough, there's always the draw of goats. See you here.
Posted 7/14/2011 9:57pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
For the most part, we relish the hands-on nature of our cheese making operation. We pride ourselves on hand crafting each and every batch of cheese we produce. In fact, our hands (gloved of course) touch the cheeses many times before we deliver them into your hands. There is a "dark side" of making small batches of artisan cheeses; however: the amount of dirty dishes we generate.  I often tell folks who want to make cheese that it is 20% cheese making and 80% cleaning and dish washing. Up until yesterday, we would wash all of the cheese making implements by hand and then run them through a commercial dish washer (to sanitize them for the most part).  This would typically take several hours per day to accomplish. Yesterday, we installed a brand new 150-gallon wash tank known as a COP ("clean out of place" for those of you who want to know what the acronym stands for). It is tank with powerful jets that force out all those little pieces of cheese curd or white mold off our cheese forms and our aging mats. Once we have worked out all the details, this should reduce our washing time tremendously and improve the quality of life for our cheese makers. We just have to resist the temptation to sneak in the bubble bath and jump into the tank ourselves. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery might just become Prairie Fruits Farm and Spa!

On to the farmers' markets. We're attending THREE markets this Saturday, July 16th: Urbana, Green City Market and Oak Park. We've got plenty of wonderful cheeses for you:
  • Fresh Chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Angel Food
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie
  • Black Sheep
  • Krotovina
  • Moonglo-yes, it's back and we will have plenty for you
  • Mollisol Pecorino
there may be a few others if we decide they are ready to sell
For Urbana Market goers, our gelato offerings are sure to keep you cool:
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb sorbetto
  • Blueberry
  • Banana

Don't forget to come out and visit us on Tuesday afternoons from 3-7PM.  It may be hot, but what better way to cool off than to savor some gelato or sorbetto while visiting the goats.
Posted 7/11/2011 8:24pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Greetings from central Illinois' sauna.  What better way to cool off than to come out to our farm tomorrow afternoon from 3-7PM to buy some gelato and sorbetto.  But wait, there's more: cheeses of many kinds, breads and cookies from Pekara Bakehouse AND cool veggies from Blue Moon Farm. Blue Moon has their pre-orders AND they're bringing additional veggies as well. They will only be here from 3-5PM so come early.  You can see the goats try to beat the heat too!
Posted 7/8/2011 7:49am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Moonglo cheese
We know it's truly summer when we taste the Moonglo and decide that it is ripe enough for sale. This is the weekend. We'll be attending three farmers' markets on Saturday, July 9th: Urbana, Bloomington and Oak Park, and we cut several wheels of this firm and tangy cheese for you to enjoy. It tastes great with a tart jam (how about making some jam with all the local raspberries or cherries that are beginning to appear at the farmers' markets?) and some crusty bread.
We've got lots of other cheeses for our market goers this Saturday as well:
  • plenty of fresh chevre
  • Angel Food
  • Smoked Angel Food--it's back--the applewood smoked brie style cheese
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie
  • Ewe Bloom
  • BABY ewe bloom (bite sized rounds perfect for topping a salad)
  • Black Sheep
  • BABY black sheep (same deal as baby ewe bloom--you can eat it almost in one bite)
  • Huckleberry Blue--our raw goat milk blue, supply is limited so enjoy it while it lasts
  • Mollisol Pecorino--our raw sheep milk grating style cheese

We have LOTS of gelato and sorbetto for the Urbana Farmers' Market goers--lots of new fruit flavors to try.  Wes and Stewart got a little carried away with their "experiments" this week.  We've all taste tested them (of course), and they're all really delicious.

TUESDAY ON FARM SALE NEWS
Things are really picking up with our Tuesday afternoon mini-farmers' market-open house (3 to 7PM). This coming Tuesday, July 12th, we'll have plenty of cheese and gelato for you as well as Pekara Bakehouse goodies. Blue Moon Farm's bounty is flourishing, so they've resumed their pre-ordering system to ensure that they pick just the right amount of fresh produce for this mid-week market. They plan to be at our farm only from 3-5PM, so please come early if you want veggies. To access their ordering system, go to:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LMHV7PR
They will also bring extra of the following:
Salad mix
Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Beets
Kohlrabi
Cilantro
Parsley
Kale
Cabbage

Posted 6/30/2011 10:06pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
It's hard to believe we've arrived at the weekend of fourth of july already.  The rhythm of the spring and early summer has been as rapid as a beebop jazz tune--dizzying.  I know that we're entering full blown summer because the fire flies have been lighting up the early evening skies and the wind is blowing just a bit more gently than it does in the spring.  The sun is taking its sweet time descending into the evening sky and leaving a shockingly reddish orange hue in its wake.
This fourth of july weekend promises to cook up our typical hot and steamy Midwestern summer, so w
e're loading up the coolers for the farmers' market with cheese.  We often associate fourth of july with meat and grills, but what better way to accompany those steaks or burgers or chicken thighs than with some gooey bloomy rind cheese or slathering on some fresh chevre on the bun. 
This Saturday, July 2nd, we're attending THREE farmers' markets: Urbana, Oak Park and Chicago's Green City Market. 
We've got a great line up of cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre--the usual suspects of plain, herbs de Provence and cracked peppercorn
  • Fresh sheep milk ricotta--it's so fresh and light--how about drizzling it with some local honey and topping it with some fresh berries??
  • Sheep milk feta--now's the time to get some of those early hot house tomatoes& cukes and make a beautiful greek salad with our rich feta
  • Angel Food--nice and gooey
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-dense, creamy and would be great lightly grilled along side those burgers---try topping it with some caramelized onions or onion jam!
  • Ewe Bloom--we have our triangles as well as the little baby baba blooms--perfect for a crostini appetizer
  • Black Sheep-also in "baby" size as well as our regular rounds--gotta love the ash
  • Huckleberry Blue-our very piquant (if you love blue cheese, you'll get your money's worth with this one) raw goat milk blue--also great on a burger (notice a theme here??)

For our Urbana Farmers' Market customers, we've got a great lineup:
  • Simply Vanilla
  • Luscious Chocolate
  • Nocciola (Hazelnut)
  • Sicilian Pistacchio
  • Honey Chevre
  • Local Strawberry
  • Strawberry-Rhubarb Sorbetto

Tuesday Farm Sales-Open House
Thanks to those of you have ventured out to our on-farm sale on Tuesday afternoons.  We continue to grow each week in customers and diversity of offerings. This coming Tuesday, July 5th, we'll have our very own cheeses and gelato (and probably soem things out of our garden). We'll also welcome back Pekara Bakehouse with their artisan breads, cookies and pastries. Blue Moon Farm will be here as well. They are reinstating their pre-ordering system so they can make sure to bring the right amount of produce. To place your order by Monday, July 4th, please go to their order form:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/J38SQ7G or Order Form
Lastly, we'll have a very special guest farmer, a maple syrup maker from Ohio called "Sticky Pete's."  Here's some information about how they sell their maple syrup and their farm.  This is a one time offer, so come out and get some great maple syrup:
"The sizes I sell at the market are 8oz-$7.50, 12oz-$9.50, 16oz-$13.00 and I may be able to bring some quarts, but not sure.  I also have some fancy leaf bottles large, medium and small which make terrific gifts, they range in size from 8.45oz, 3.5oz and 1.7oz and are more pricey because of the bottles.  Sticky Petes is a 1500 tap sugarbush situated in southeastern Ohio in the foothills of the Appalachians.  Began in 1996 by John Berry and Laura McManus and their faithful dog Pete.  Our label is a tribute to Pete who carefully watched over the process, from gathering sap in the woods in early spring, to boiling in the sugarhouse, to bottling our delicious golden amber on its way to the market.  Our syrup is handcrafted and we are committed to making your day naturally sweeter!"
Posted 6/27/2011 6:34pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Greetings Local Food Lovers:
Tomorrow's on-farm sales will feature lots of treats:
  • Plenty of cheese--chevre, some bloomies, some huckleberry blue and pecorino
  • Plenty of gelato--Wes and Stewart are concocting some special flavors for you to try; also we've made our first ever goat milk gelato-chocolate chip cookie sandwiches--very limited quantity, so come early if you want to try one.  They're scrumptious!
  • From our garden: bundles of beautiful baby leeks and more heirloom tomato starts (probably our last week for the starts)
  • From the fertile fields of Blue Moon Farm--hearty salad mix $6.50/lb
  • NEW this week: Pekara Bakehouse artisan breads and cookies
Come on out from 3 to 7PM!
Posted 6/23/2011 8:52pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Headline News:  A comprehensive study of foods people eat that make them gain or loose weight has concluded that cheese DOES NOT make you gain weight (stay away from potato chips, though).  This is yet another validation that cheese is GOOD for you! We're here to help you stay healthy with a lovely array of goat and sheep milk cheeses. 
This Saturday, we're attending THREE farmers' markets: Urbana, Bloomington and Oak Park.
Here's what we plan to have available:
  • Lots of lemony fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked peppercorn
  • Sheep milk feta--the first of the hothouse tomatoes are making their debuts at various farmers' markets around Illinois, so what better way to enjoy them than with crumbled tangy-salty feta cheese.
  • Angel Food--the gooeyness returns
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie--how about warming it in the oven and serving it on a bed of local mixed salad greens
  • Black Sheep--our new and improved version of black sheep is a bit younger than before, but oh so creamy in the mouth
  • Ewe Bloom--think Robiola but with sheep milk
  • Red Dawn--the smoked paprika on the rind will remind you of bacon
  • Huckleberry Blue-our spring milk version--it's got a nice blue bite but the body of the cheese is filled with notes of the grape jam-cassis spirits rub it's been bathed in
  • Mollisol Pecorino--a raw sheep milk pecorino romano swabbed in black currant-olive oil paste, aged for one year. It has a wonderful nutty flavor and works great as a grating cheese.
Wes has been slaving in front of the gelato batch freezer to offer our Urbana Farmers' Market goers a nice selection of our goat milk gelato. Here's what he'll be bringing to the market:
  • Simply Vanilla
  • Luscious Chocolate
  • Nocciola di Piemonte (hazelnut)
  • Pistacchio Siciliano
  • Local strawberry
  • Strawberry-rhubarb sorbetto
If you can't make it to the farmers' markets this Saturday, don't despair. Our on-farm "open house" is growing with products and guest vendors.  This coming Tuesday, June 28th from 3 to 7PM, expect lots more cheese and gelato of course, a few offerings from our organic vegetable garden, veggies from Blue Moon Farm AND artisan breads and cookies from Pekara Bakehouse.  Pretty soon, you'll be able to craft an elaborate meal from the wonderful local foods we'll have on offer at our farm. 
soltice moon
We have another farm dinner this Saturday--Summer Beer and Cheese Fest. The weather should be very pleasant (if not a bit cool), so we'll be dining outside.  The menu will be posted on our website some time tomorrow for those of you who would like to know what we're serving with the Blind Pig Brewery's outstanding microbrews.  To view the menu, go to www.prairiefruits.com and click on "Dinners on the Farm." Then, go to "Dinner Descriptions and Make Reservations" (NOTE, this dinner is sold out) and click on the June 25th Summer Beer and Cheese dinner for details. Summer is officially here, as this outrageous soltice moonrise suggests.

Posted 6/20/2011 8:49pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Greatings Local Food Lovers:
Tomorrow's on farm sales will be filled with lots of great FOOD:
  • our very own organic beets
  • lots of wonderful cheese of course--in case you missed the Urbana Farmers' Market this Saturday or we ran out of your favorite cheese--buy some beets, roast them, and then sprinkle some chevre on top--hard to beat (no pun intended)
  • Goat milk gelato: chocolate, hazelnut, strawberry, rhubarb and vanilla--both single servings and pints to take home (or eat here while you visit with the goats)
But wait, there's more.....
  • Blue Moon Farm Salad Mix! Yeah!!!
AND, Rachel, our horticulturist, has potted up some gorgeous heirloom tomato plants for you to plant in your own gardens or in containers.  She has 20 different varieties from which to choose. If you've procrastinated about growing your own tomatoes, now is your chance.
Come on out to the farm from 3-7PM. The goats will be here, will you??