News

Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 6/4/2010 10:09am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
This week's word is abundance. Our berries are finally starting to ripen, and first in line are the strawberries. We actually have enough to send to the farmers market this Saturday--maybe only Urbana, though. Kris is picking berries like a mad man as I write, so we'll see how many pints we get.  The sun has been plentiful enough that their taste is pretty exquisite. As Wes says, "They taste like Oregon berries" (dry summers produce sweet berries in Mediterranean climates like Oregon and California). 
Lots of cheese this week too:
Whole goat's milk ricotta is finally here! It's sweet, delicate and delicious
Chevre, of course--stuff those strawberries with some chevre and fresh herbs! Yum.
Limited supply of Angel Food
Little Bloom on the Prairie
Krotovina
Ewe Bloom
Roxanne--nice semi-hard texture

This week, we're running a sale on Ewe Bloom, the "blue" duckling that tastes like a swan.  It is $5/lb per pound less than the regular price. As I wrote last week, look past the blue rind and experience the buttery interior, and you'll be hooked on this cheese.
Take advantage of our abundance this week. We'll be attending the Urbana, Green City Market and Oak Park Farmers' Market. Happy Local Food eating!
Posted 5/31/2010 7:18pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
For those of you attending the Tres Leches dinner this coming Saturday, June 5th, you can now view the tentative menu on our website. Just go to www.prairiefruits.com, then click on "Dinners on the Farm," then go to "Dinner Descriptions and Make Reservations", and lastly click on the "Tres Leches" dinner for more detail. The menu is at the bottom of the page, so please scroll all the way down. 
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Posted 5/28/2010 11:53am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
This week we have a limited repertoire of cheeses available for you at the farmers' markets. Our other cheeses are ripening away, and we should have more diversity next week. We will be attending Urbana, Bloomington, Green City and Oak Park Farmers' Markets.
We have:
Fresh chevre (plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper)
Angel Food --nice and gooey
Ewe Bloom--tastes great right now!
Limited amount of Roxanne-raw sheep milk brebis style
Mollisol Pecorino-our raw sheep milk Pecorino Romano style--sharp, slightly salty--great for grating over some roasted veggies or a beet salad.

A little insight about farmstead cheese and seasonality: milk and cheese are affected by the weather and the environment. Take our Ewe Bloom, for example. We are having an explosion of wild blue mold on these cheeses right now. It turns out that sheep on pasture produce milk that is friendly to the growth of this wild blue mold. It also turns out that when farmers' plow their fields and plant their crops this time of year, that lots of blue mold spores are cast into the air and make their way into our cheeserie. This mold is natural, it is not harmful to people, it has a mild and slightly earthy, almost non-detectable taste, yet its appearance is jarring to the human eye. Most people think that blue mold on cheese means it's spoiled. I assure you we wouldn't bring these cheeses to market if they were spoiled.  I encourage you to not judge this cheese by the color of it's "skin." Rather, close your eyes and take a taste. If then you're not convinced, you can pass it by. 
As spring fades into summer, I encourage you to be adventurous--eat some moldy cheese today!
Happy Local Food Eating!
Posted 5/21/2010 11:02am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Freedom Ranger chicks
The "Freedom Ranger" chicks arrive
Guinea Keets
The guinea "keets" are here too
This is a week of several season "firsts."  Our "Freedom Ranger" day-old broiler chicks arrived at the Post Office this morning along with our guinea keets (this is what guinea fowl babies are called).  The Freedom Rangers chickens were developed in France under the name of  "Label Rouge" and are designed for pasture raising. They have sturdy legs and love to eat grass and forage for insects.  We are very excited to try them.  Our guineas will be featured in the 100 yard dinner later this season. We learned a lot about how to raise them last year (how to keep predators away from them and prevent them from escaping in general), so we hope to have plenty to serve to our guests come October.
We harvested our first respectable crop of strawberries, and they are mighty tasty (not enough to sell yet, but for those of you coming to the first farm dinner, you'll get to experience them).  We picked our first bunches of spring greens--kale, collards, baby swiss chard, beet greens.  We will host our first farm dinner of the season on Saturday. If you haven't seen the menu, go to our website, click on "Dinners on the Farm," then "Dinner Descriptions and Make Reservations." Then, click on the "Spring Hopes Eternal" dinner and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the menu.  For those of you signed up to attend this dinner, the weather is forecast to be in the low '80's and sunny. We will be dining outside, so dress accordingly. It should be a spectacular evening.
We start selling our cheeses at the Oak Park Farmers' Market this Saturday, bringing our market total to three (Urbana, Green City Market and Oak Park). Next Saturday, we'll add Bloomington to the farmers' market repertoire.  Our first raw milk cheese of the season is ready to eat--Roxanne, our raw sheep milk brebis style cheese wil make it's 2010 debut at the farmers' markets. It's firm and creamy with a hint of nuttiness. Great for a grilled cheese sandwich or just slice a piece and eat it unadulterated. 
We will also have the following cheeses at the markets this Saturday:
Fresh chevre-the usual flavors
Angel Food--goat milk brie
Little Bloom on the Prairie-goat milk camembert style
Ewe Bloom--the little triangles of sheep milk gooeyness
Krotovina-the pyramid of the best of both milks
Roxanne--raw sheep milk brebis
Happy Eating!
Posted 5/18/2010 7:21pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Dear Prairie Fruits Farm Dinner Guests (and others, I realize):

The tentative menu is now on our website (www.prairiefruits.com) for the May 22nd Farm Dinner. You can find it under "Dinners on the Farm," then "Dinner Descriptions and Make Reservations," then click on the May 22nd "Spring Hopes Eternal" dinner.
 For those of you who will be coming to this dinner, please take a look so you can choose your wines or other beverages accordingly. For everyone else, feel free to take a look and imagine the deliciousness.

Stay tuned for future menus as the dinner dates approach.
Posted 5/14/2010 10:11am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Greetings cheese lovers:
It's the time of year we start adding farmers' markets to our repertoire. This Saturday--yes that is TOMORROW--we'll be attending the Urbana Farmers' Market and the Chicago Green City Market. Both start at 7AM and Urbana ends at noon, while Green City continues until 1PM.
We'll be offering you the following cheeses:
  • Our wonderfully fluffy chevre--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked peppercorn
  • Angel Food--the brie style goat cheese
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie --our goat milk camembert style cheese
  • Krotovina--a lovely pyramid mold-ripened cheese that has a layer of sheep milk curd and a layer of goat milk curd separated by a very thin layer of vegetable ash
  • Ewe Bloom--our soft ripened sheep milk cheese
  • Prairie Dropseed--our blended milk geo-mold rind cheese--looks like a little snow ball.

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.
Thank you for your patronage.
Posted 5/6/2010 9:30pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Mothers' day means a lot to me here on the farm. I have become the surrogate "mother" of over 100 baby goats this year.  Each one has his/her personality, some stronger than others, some with markings that make you marvel at genetics and some so fiesty that they make you laugh.  This is the great thing about having a goat dairy. Every year we get two plus months of "mothers' day." Well, all those babies have brought an abundance of milk, and we've been busy transforming that milk into an array of different cheeses for you to enjoy at the markets. 
little fawn baby
We're debuting a new bloomy rind cheese this weekend at the Urbana Farmers' Market. We call it "Prairie Dropseed," named after that beautiful prairie plant with a delicate raceme of seeds blowing in the wind.  Some of you may recall a cheese by that name that made the roster last year. Well, this one is different: it's our first true "mixed milk" cheese-blending sheep and goat milk in the cheese vat, adding a bit of geo white mold to the milk, ladling it like our chevre and then forming it into beautiful balls that develop a thin crinkly ivory rind after about 10 days. It is aged for a total of two weeks and has a nice creamy texture reminiscent of our chevre, but is more crumbly. Try it on a salad of local spring greens or crumble it on top of your favorite pasta dish. It makes an excellent Mothers' Day gift.
Prairie Dropseed
We also have the following other cheeses for you to enjoy:
Chevre of course--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
Black sheep--another "experimental" cheese-soft ripened with ash coating on the outside--all sheep milk. It is more firm and mild compared to Ewe Bloom. You can really taste the milk in this cheese.
Angel Food-gooey as ever
Little Bloom on the Prairie--what can I say--it's becoming a classic
Krotovina-the best of two milks separated by ash in a lovely little pyramid
Mollisol Pecorino--our raw sheep milk Pecorino Romano style cheese that we have been aging patiently for about one year. It's got a nice nutty and sharp flavor-excellent for grating or shaving over some roasted asparagus or rapini (Blue Moon Farm has some killer good rapini right now).
We also have a few very ripe Red Dawn--get them while supplies last.
For those of you in Chicago, don't despair. We will starting the Green City Farmers' Market next Saturday, May 15th. I look forward to reconnecting with our Chicago customers soon.
We have been graced with some amazing warm sunny spring days these past few weeks. The bees have been very busy pollinating our fruit, and if all goes well, we're expecting an excellent berry and tree fruit crop this year. Stay tuned.
Happy Mothers' Day and Happy Spring!
Posted 4/29/2010 9:24pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Greatings cheese lovers and local food advocates:
It is finally here; the first farmers' market of the season. Urbana's Market at the Square will open it's "doors" at 7AM this Saturday May 1st.  We will be there in our usual spot--row 4 on the east end of the Market.  Please don't forget, that day is also the Illinois Marathon, so traffic might be blocked for awhile. I believe you can find out the marathon route by going to the either the Illinois Marathon website or the Urbana Market at the Square website. 
We'll be bringing the following cheeses to the market:
Fresh Chevre (of course)
Angel Food--our gooey brie-like goat milk cheese
Little Bloom on the Prairie
Red Dawn-a soft ripened goat milk cheese dusted in smoked paprika (tastes like barbeque!!)
Ewe Bloom-our soft ripened sheep milk cheese
Krotovina-a lovely delicate pyramid that is half goat milk and half sheep milk separated by a thin layer of vegetable ash.
To tempt you to the market, here is a photo of Red Dawn


For those of you who aren't able to make it to the Urbana Farmers' Market this Saturday, rest assured. You can still purchase our cheese at select locations throughout Champaign-Urbana (Common Ground Food Coop, Strawberry Fields, World Harvest, Schnucks) and Chicago (Pastoral, Marion Street Cheese Market, lots of restaurants and other retail stores including Whole Foods).
Stay tuned for more information about other farmers' markets we'll be doing this year.
Posted 4/22/2010 8:04pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Quick addition to my earlier newsletter: I forgot to mention that we will be selling our cheeses at the last indoor Green City Market at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum. Saturday April 24th from 8AM to 1PM. The same cheeses will be available as those we have for farm sales. Cesar will be there to greet you.  So, if you can't make it down to Champaign Urbana this weekend, please visit us at the Green City Market. It is still "Cheese Month" at the market. Check out all the artisan cheese producers there. The outdoor Green City Market doesn't start until May 15th, so stock up.
Posted 4/22/2010 7:09pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Farm News
Things were relatively quiet on the farm this week.  No new births, but lots of planting going on. The weather and the soil presented perfect conditions for planting, and we were out there along side our cash grain neighbors (except our tractors and planters are either human size or about one tenth the size of the corn planters).  Aaron, our herdsman, planted a new field with alfalfa and oats as a nurse crop. We're also experimenting with planting sorghum-sudan grass--a very fast growing forage crop--in one of our pasture paddocks this year to help control goat intestinal parasites.  Aaron was busy planting that seed too. Kris, our orchardist, was busy digging holes and planting several dozen new fruit trees. As I write, Wes is out in the last hours of daylight trying to get the last of the cherry trees planted before the rains come tonight. We welcome the rains. Unlike last year, the soil is actually getting dry right now, and all the seed, berries and trees we have planted could use a deep drink right about now.
We're busy in the cheeserie cranking out lots of batches of chevre, bloomy rind cheeses and raw milk cheeses in anticipation of farmers' market season. It is nearly upon us--Urbana's Market at the Square starts one week from this Saturday, May 1st! 
Open House, Sales, Breakfast
SO, farmers' market season means an end to our on farm open houses, sales and breakfasts. This Saturday, April 24th from 9AM to 12 noon is your last chance this year to come out to the farm to enjoy an all local foods breakfast and see the baby goats.  
We will have the following cheeses available for sale:
Fresh Chevre
Little Bloom on the Prairie (our goat milk camembert style cheese)
Angel Food (our goat milk brie--it's gooey as ever!)
Ewe Bloom (our soft-ripened sheep milk cheese)
Don't forget to pick up one of our stylish organic cotton "Community Supported Goat" T-shirts ($15 each).
Both Tomahnous Farm and Blue Moon Farm will be here as well.  Tomahnous is bringing asparagus, chard, rhubarb, lettuce, herbs, spinach, flour & goat milk soap. Blue Moon Farm finally has salad mix! They will also probably be bringing asparagus. They will definitely have Swiss chard, Red Russian kale, White Russian kale, Green kale, Red kale, rapini, and radishes.


What's For Breakfast you ask patiently?:
  • Raisin Bread French Toast with Spence Farm Maple Syrup
  • Blue Moon Farm Asparagus and Mill Creek Farm Mushroom Strada
  • Hot Buttermilk Biscuits with Butter and Honey
  • Assorted other baked treats
  • Organic Banana Yogurt Smoothie
  • Mexican style goat milk hot chocolate
  • Fair Trade Coffee
For more details about the farm and the breakfasts, visit our website: www.prairiefruits.com