News

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Posted 9/15/2016 11:18pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

As Erica, our herd manager, and I huddled around her laptop computer this week, evaluating lactation curves and breeding outcomes from previous years to develop this year’s breeding plan, our conversation got me thinking about the term “animal husbandry.”  The simple Webster dictionary’s definition is “the science of breeding and caring for farm animals.” As with so much of farming, I find this definition cold, detached and assuming that humans are always in charge. While I appreciate the value of basing decisions on data (for sure, we would be flying blind on our breeding plan if we didn’t have our milk production records to guide us), I have been humbled more frequently than not by acts of nature well beyond my control.

How did this notion of “husbanding” livestock come to be?  I suppose the term has its roots in biblical notions of husband as caretaker, provider. Yes, the paternalist overtones raise the hairs on my feminist neck.  I also know that women across the millennia have played major roles in the care and breeding of the livestock that nourished their families and their tribes.  We women “animal husbands” (animal wives or wifery just sound too weird) embrace the give and take of science and intuition to guide our care of the beings that sustain us.  We usually are the first to notice when one of our critters seems out of sorts. We acknowledge the limits of our knowledge and admit readily when the data fall short of telling the full story.  We feel both comfort and ambiguity in crossing the fuzzy line between intimacy and hard cold decisions that decide the fates of sentient beings.  I’d like to revise that definition of husbandry to recognize the non-quantifiable ties that bind us to the animals that nourish us. 

Farm Events

Family Friendly Fall Farm Happy Hour NEW! 

TOMORROW EVENING-SEPTEMBER 16TH RAIN OR SHINE (5-7 PM). Come out to the farm, enjoy a little nosh and some drinks on the patio (or in the barn dining room) and let their kids run around the farm and get really tired.  We’ll provide a selection of cheeses, jams, pickles, crackers as well as wines, beers and sodas for you to buy. We’ll also open up the gelato dipping cabinet and offer scoops of gelato.  NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. 

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: The Real Stand is open Friday-Sunday, 1-4 pm only.  We have our home-grown tomatoes, okra, cheese, gelato, Bane Family Meats and Piemonte Sausages, including goat merguezNEW: Our very own pasture-raised “cabrito. We have a variety of cuts for sale, including ground meat, stew meat, shoulder and leg roasts. We also have a fresh supply of our goat milk soaps made by Red Barn Farm.  Of course, there are cheeses, jams, crackers and gelato too. Come visit the farm and see the changing of the seasons. 

Farm Dinners: We still have a number of seats open for this weekend’s dinner and brunch: Spanish Tapas. If you’ve been thinking about coming, don’t delay.  We’re making a special cocktail for the dinner called the “Smokey Derby” with smoked paprika and Kentucky Bourbon:   should be amazing (as will the actual meal).  The 100 Yard Dinner in October (also dinner and brunch-check out the revised menu), and Fall Feast with Chef Ed Sura (formerly with Perennial Virant, now with NoMi Restaurant in Chicago) still have seats open as well. Go to our website, check out the menus and book your reservations NOW.

CUFarmers: We only have two more weeks of ordering, so if you’ve been curious about how this works, please give it a try.  Order online (opens Friday at 8AM and closes the following Monday at 10 pm) and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy, convenient way to get the best local food around.  Customers love the ease of ordering and the convenient pick up location.

Market News

We will be attending three markets this Saturday: Urbana’s Market at the Square, Bloomington’s Farmers’ Market and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Although there is rain in the forecast, don’t let that stop you from shopping (the silver lining is that you won’t have to fight the crowds).  This time of year, the produce of summer AND fall is abundant, so come out and support your farmers.  We will also be attending the downtown Champaign Farmers’ Market on Tuesday, September 21st (our last one for the season, although the market continues through October).  Here’s the selection of cheeses this weekend and next Tuesday:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper, dried Juliet tomato
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—the perfect crumbly texture with a tangy creamy finish-always great for a salad or for finishing a stew
  • Angel Food— our little bloomy, crottin-style cheese.  Try cutting it into discs and using it to make a BLT or a caprese salad. 
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie:  Camembert style in all its gooey glory
  • Black Goat: ash-ripened with a delicate yeasty rind; this cheese is tasting FANTASTIC right now.
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: made in a style similar to Manchego, this raw milk cheese is loaded with complex nutty flavors and stands up to any bold companion you throw its way.
  • Yogurt: We will have pints and quarts of our plain, whole-milk yogurt at the Urbana and Green City markets only (short on supply this week)

We have our house-made artisan crackers featuring local grains (milled) from Severson Farm (aka Quality Organics) at all three markets:  herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre. Try a bag with a couple of our cheeses.

The warm fall weather we’re having means gelato is still a great dessert. We have some great new flavors this week, in addition to the great standards. Try some at the market and take home a pint:

  • Salted caramel
  • Hazelnut
  • Grape Cava
  • Honey chèvre
  • Caramel apple
  • Espresso
  • Peach cardamom cream
  • Spiced Butter Pecan
  • Toasted coconut
  • Masala chai
  • Lemon verbena
  • Black current apple mint (limited)
  • Fresh mint (limited)
  • Raspberry Meritage (limited)
  • Stracciatella (limited)
  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla 


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 9/13/2016 1:24pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Hi Folks:
Amazingly, we still have tickets open for our Spanish Tapas themed dinner and brunch this weekend.  These meals are gonna be beyond great, so check out the menus and book your reservations now: 

Saturday, September 17- Sunday, September 18 Spanish Tapas and
Rossejat (rice dish)
Dinner

Seared padron peppers with sea salt, Mini gouda and apricot jam grilled cheese, Smokey Derby cocktail

Sweet pepper, avocado and shrimp toast with saffron crema Charred pear with country ham and basil
Summer corn and Valencia tomato gazpacho  
Heirloom tomato and pickled melon salad with chevre fritter and salad greens
SDC rossejat, charred scallion and pecan picada, garlic allioli, chicken confit, and chard
Plum upside down cake with sherry reduction and PFF salted caramel gelato
$100 per person   
Sunday Brunch
Plum and creme Catalan pastry
Salad greens, honey vinaigrette, shaved PFF magia negra, grapes and pecans
Spanish Breakfast BLT: Farm eggs, lettuce, oven roasted tomato, bacon, smoked paprika aioli with Spanish-style hash browns
$50 per person

Friday, September 16th: Family Friendly Fall Happy Hour at the farm 5-7PM.  Cheese, jams, bread, wine, beer, Homer sodas, wide open spaces for your kids to run around--sounds like a good time, right?
Don't forget that our farm store is open Friday-Sunday 1-4 pm.  We have some new products in our freezer, so come check 'em out.

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 9/8/2016 10:48pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

There are times when we celebrate the intrusion of the natural world on our farm. We welcome the explosion of insects that pollinate our flowers and predate our pests.  We rejoice at the sight of hummingbirds fighting for nectar at the feeder.  We drop our jaws when a bald eagle flies overhead.  Yet, when nature turns against the aims of the farm, we recoil a bit.

the hawk

This past weekend, a juvenile red-tailed hawk swooped into our chicken enclosure in the orchard and killed one of our freedom ranger chickens.  We didn’t witness it come in for the kill, but we found it caught in the fencing, its victim lying nearby.  From the tangled mess of fencing and poultry netting, it was clear that his/her attempt at scoring an easy meal had not been graceful (or successful for that matter). As it tried to show fierceness upon discovery, its eyes could not hide the fear or embarrassment of a foiled attack.  Wes and Dani couldn’t find the remaining chickens at first; miraculously they had escaped the talons of the predator. They scoured the surrounding orchard floor in search of any survivors; they nearly stepped on a large group of poultry huddled close to the ground, feigning death.  Those freedom rangers are pretty smart for a chicken. We now have bird netting covering the top of their enclosure. They are back to foraging for bugs in the grass, albeit a bit more wary of movements overhead.

This year, we decided to plant a couple of varieties of grain amaranth in our garden: Golden and Mayo Indian amaranth. While the farm has more than its share of unwanted amaranth species (pigweed being a major herbaceous pest), we were intrigued by this ancient grain that packs so much nutrition.  The rapid rate at which the seeds germinated and the seedlings pushed their way out of the ground foretold the vigor of these plants. Within weeks, they were reaching toward the sky, growing like their proverbial weed cousins.  They set themselves apart when they started to form gigantic flower clusters of vibrant ruby and amber.  The plants now tower at over 8-10 feet tall, and we have started to collect the seed (grain) for our 100 Yard Dinner.  We hope to collect enough to make polenta for 50 people. The grains are quite small; let’s hope they expand when they’re cooked. 

amaranth

Farmers’ Market News

We will be attending three markets this Saturday: Urbana’s Market at the Square, Bloomington’s Farmers’ Market and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Here’s the selection of cheeses this week:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper, heirloom dried tomato
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—the perfect crumbly texture with a tangy creamy finish
  • Angel Food— our little bloomy, crottin-style cheese.  Try one with our sweet-savory tomato jam (you choose-red or green)
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie:  Camembert style in all its gooey glory
  • Black Goat: ash-ripened with a delicate yeasty rind.
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: made in a style similar to Manchego, this raw milk cheese is loaded with complex flavors and stands up to any bold companion you throw its way.
  • Yogurt: We will have pints and quarts of our plain, whole-milk yogurt at all markets but supplies are very limited this week.

We have our house-made artisan crackers featuring local grains (milled) from Severson Farm (aka Quality Organics) at all three markets:  herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre. Try a bag with a couple of our cheeses. We also have house-made tomato jam to complete the cheese & cracker pairing.

Gelato season isn’t over yet. Try some at the market and take home a pint:

  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Vanilla
  • Stracciatella-fancy chocolate ganache chip
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Honey Chevre
  • Spiced Butter Pecan
  • Raspberry Meritage
  • Peach-Cardamom-Cream
  • Black Currant-Apple Mint (very limited)
  • Fresh Mint (very limited)

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: This week, The Real Stand is open Friday-Sunday, 1-4 pm only.  We have our home-grown tomatoes, okra, cheese, gelato, Bane Family Meats and Piemonte Sausages, including goat merguez.  NEW: Our very own pasture-raised “cabrito.” We have a variety of cuts for sale. We also have a fresh supply of our goat milk soaps made by Red Barn Farm.  Of course, there are cheeses, jams, crackers and gelato too. Come visit the farm and see the changing of the seasons. 

Family Friendly Fall Farm Happy Hour:  NEW! We’ve been asked to have a time when families can come out to the farm, enjoy a little nosh and some drinks on the patio and let their kids run around the farm and get really tired.  So, come out to the farm next Friday, September 16th from 5-7 pm. We’ll provide a selection of cheeses, jams, pickles, crackers as well as wines, beers and sodas for you to buy. We’ll also open up the gelato dipping cabinet and offer scoops of gelato.  NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. 

CUFarmers: Order online (opens Friday at 8AM and closes the following Monday at 10 pm) and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy, convenient way to get the best local food around.  We are continuing this service through the end of September, so we encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t already. Customers love the ease of ordering and the convenient pick up location.

Farm Dinners: Three dates remain for the season: Spanish Tapas in September (dinner and brunch actually—next weekend), The 100 Yard Dinner in October (also dinner and brunch-check out the revised menu), and Fall Feast with Chef Ed Sura (formerly with Perennial Virant, now with NoMi Restaurant in Chicago). Tickets are going fast, so go to our website, check out the menus and book your reservations NOW.

farm food

CU Artisan Cup: Sunday, October 23rd, 6-8 PM. A friendly competition among Central IL chefs to celebrate the bounty of local foods and raise funds for The Land Connection, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting farmers to land, consumers to sustainable farmers and farmer training. It’s going to be a very special evening, and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery will be there at the “cheese table.”  Check out the details for the event. Tickets are on sale at www.artisancup.com  


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 9/1/2016 7:32pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

By the time August rolls over into September, we are looking ahead to breeding season. The cool dry air that settled over the farm last night will give a gentle nudge to put the does “in the mood.”  The bucks need no such prodding; they’ve been ready for quite some time based on our “olfactory distance indicator”— tech speak for how far from the buck pasture paddock we can smell their classic musky odor. The boys spend spring and summer months in the north pasture (on the other side of our orchard). Sometime in July, you can detect buck odors when you feed them in their paddock. By the end of August, if a north wind is blowing, you can smell them at the south end of the orchard, close to the chicken coop.  Soon, I will smell them when I walk outside our house. They will have to stifle their eagerness for another month, as we have much to do before nuptials begin. 

Before we know it, we will be pouring over milk records, deciding who to breed to whom, who to retire, and who to send down the road (don’t worry, they get homes where they are better suited-pets or family milking doe).  We have two new La Mancha breeding bucks this year, and we’re probably bringing in a new Nubian buck to shake up the genetics a bit. 

The replacement doelings have been eating us out of house and home, growing like the corn stalks that surround our farm.  We indulge their insatiable appetites because we need them to be big enough in late fall for breeding. One of the milestones that marks their transition from kid to milker is tattooing.  Each doeling must be tattooed with our herd code and their birth number so that they can be registered with the American Dairy Goat Association.  We have registered all of our breeding stock since the dairy’s inception in 2005, because we believe keeping good records gives us discipline and integrity within the goat buyer world.  

Nubians, with their long floppy ears, provide wide surface areas on which to imprint the series of letters and numbers.  La Manchas and La Mancha crosses, with their barely visible external ears, offer only their tail web for the tattoo “artist.”  Either the La Manchas and crosses are more stoic, or the Nubian ears are more sensitive, but the ever-vocal Nubians react to the tattoo press with much greater drama than their earless compatriots.  Inevitably, green tattoo ink gets everywhere, despite our precautions with gloves and coveralls.  Each freshly tattooed doeling greets her pen mates with Rorschach smatterings of green.  Doeling bodies evoke prehistoric cave painting imagery as they return to their focus on foraging for their next meal. 

tattoo art

Labor Day Markets The weather should be GORGEOUS for a Saturday outing to your local farmers’ market. We will be attending three markets this Saturday: Urbana’s Market at the Square, Bloomington’s Farmers’ Market and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Celebrate the summer-fall transition with a picnic of artisan cheeses, crackers, some simple veggie dips or a jar of our tomato jam. Finish with a pint or two of gelato. What could be better (well, a bottle of wine or beer to accompany this food)? Cheese wise, we have:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper (we’ve started to dry our Juliet tomatoes, so heirloom tomato chevre is on deck)
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—the perfect crumbly texture with a tangy creamy finish-always great for a salad
  • Angel Food— our little bloomy, crottin-style cheese.  Try one with our sweet-savory tomato jam (you choose-red or green)
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie:  Camembert style in all its gooey glory
  • Black Goat: ash-ripened with a delicate yeasty rind.
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: made in a style similar to Manchego, this raw milk cheese is loaded with complex flavors and stands up to any bold companion you throw its way.
  • Yogurt: We will have pints and quarts of our plain, whole-milk yogurt at the Urbana and Green City markets only (short on supply this week)

We have our house-made artisan crackers featuring local grains (milled) from Severson Farm (aka Quality Organics) at all three markets:  herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre. Try a bag with a couple of our cheeses. We also have house-made tomato jam--green and red versions. Both pair amazingly well with ALL of our cheeses.

The flavors of gelato just keep coming:

  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Vanilla
  • Stracciatella-fancy chocolate ganache chip
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Honey Lavender
  • Black Currant-Apple Mint
  • Blueberry-Lemon Verbena
  • Sweet Corn (last chance for the season-Green City Market only)
  • Grape Cava Sorbetto (made with seedless green grapes from Klug Farm in Michigan)

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: This week, The Real Stand is open Friday-Sunday, 1-4 pm only.  We have our home-grown tomatoes, cheese, gelato, Bane Family Meats and Piemonte Sausages.  We also have a fresh supply of our goat milk soaps made by Red Barn Farm.  If you’re looking for something fun to do over the holiday weekend, come out to the farm. 

CUFarmers: Order online (opens Friday at 8AM and closes the following Monday at 10 pm) and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy, convenient way to get the best local food around.  We are continuing this service through the end of September, so we encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t already. Customers love the ease of ordering and the convenient pick up location.

Farm Dinners: Three dates remain for the season: Spanish Tapas in September (dinner and brunch actually), The 100 Yard Dinner in October (also dinner and brunch), and a Fall Feast with Chef Ed Sura (formerly with Perennial Virant, now with NoMi Restaurant in Chicago). Tickets are going fast, so go to our website, check out the menus and book your reservations NOW.

CU Artisan Cup: Sunday, October 23rd, 6-8 PM. A friendly competition among Central IL chefs to celebrate the bounty of local foods and raise funds for The Land Connection, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting farmers to land, consumers to sustainable farmers and farmer training. It’s going to be a very special evening, and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery will be there at the “cheese table.”  Check out the details for the event. Tickets are on sale now. They can currently be found at https://thelandconnection.org/tlc-store/artisancupfork and www.artisancup.com  


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 8/26/2016 10:14am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

Our freedom ranger chickens were literally, “flying the coop” over these past couple of weeks, as Wes scrambled to build them a portable outdoor shelter.  Until yesterday, they had been housed in the “newborn pen” (that’s really designed for newborn goat kids, but actually works beautifully for little chicks too-heat lamps overhead, confined space with fine-mesh walls); ample space for fluffy little chicks. 

As they grew, their down fell out and their adult plumage started to fill in, with the occasional bald patches so typical of teenage chickens. The disparity in size among members of the flock became more pronounced too—males with combs towering over demur hens.  They began to test out the durability of their new feathers and flight muscles; they would fly over the fencing (plastic child gates) and hang out underneath the rabbit cage—lots of rabbit manure and associated insects to dine on. Most times, they would just fly themselves back into their enclosure, especially when it was time to refill their grain and water.  Alas, it was time to move to greener pastures.

poultry in orchard

 

The orchard seemed like the perfect location for poultry grazing: lush grass understory, ample shade from the peach trees and protection from predators (well, that part is man-made).  The selection of the orchard was not solely for the benefit of the chickens, however. With peach season over, and most of the rotted peaches removed from the orchard floor, the endemic peach pests had laid their eggs in the soil for larvae to hatch and infect anew the next peach crop.  What better way to break this cycle than to enlist some bug-lovers to eat the enemy. It’s a widely known secret that poultry LOVE bugs; I believe they love bugs more than they love grain. This morning, when Wes went out to liberate them from their nightly enclosure, one of the birds immediately snagged a grub. A hot chase ensued to steal the grub from the victor’s beak. 

These freedom ranger birds are designed for grazing and foraging, with sturdy legs and a properly sized breast for their body. As they overcome their fears of the open space, their instincts kick in, and they pluck at blades of grass and scratch for the coveted prize of larvae. Mission accomplished.

Market News

We are back to a three-market Saturday: Urbana’s Market at the Square, Bloomington Farmers’ Market and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Urbana’s Sweet Corn Festival will be happening Saturday afternoon, but don’t let that deter you from getting to the market in the morning to get your shopping done. Also, the “Bloomington Criterium Bike Race” will be happening in Bloomington on Saturday (starts at 10 AM)-another reason to get to the market early to get the best parking and farm-fresh pickings.  The market organizers indicate limited street parking and recommend parking in the two parking garages just off the market area (Lincoln Garage at Front St. or Market St. Garage just south of Washington Street).

For all locations, there’s a chance of showers tomorrow morning, but don’t let a few raindrops hinder your shopping. Here’s the lineup of cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper (butterfat is on the rise, so chevre is starting to take on that fall creamy texture and mouthfeel)
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—you must try this in a feta-watermelon salad recipe—crumbled feta, watermelon cubes, fresh mint and a splash of sherry or rice wine vinegar.
  • Angel Food— our little bloomy, crottin-style cheese.  Our friends at Sunday-Dinner-Club used the Angel Food in a summer salad last weekend at our farm dinner—sliced Angel Food atop a bed of greens, heirloom tomatoes, crunchy spicy chickpeas (you could use nuts or pumpkin seeds), tossed with a light vinaigrette.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie:  It’s really delicious right now.
  • Black Goat: ash-ripened with a delicate yeasty rind, it’s aging very nicely.
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: In honor of this weekend’s Sweet Corn Festival—grill yourself some corn and make Mexican Elote (sweet corn with grated cotija cheese and mayo and paprika)
  • Yogurt: We will have pints and quarts of our plain, whole-milk yogurt: plain and simple—milk and live cultures; nothing more. As our milk supply dwindles, we won’t be making yogurt every week, so stock up.

We will have our house-made artisan crackers featuring local grains (milled) from Severson Farm (aka Quality Organics) at all three markets:  herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre. Try a bag with a couple of our cheeses.

Gelato (not all flavors going to all locations):

  • Blueberry-Lemon Verbena
  • Fresh Mint Black
  • Currant-Apple Mint
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Bourbon Peach Sorbetto
  • Thai Basil
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Sweet Corn (very limited)
  • Peaches & Cream (very limited)
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (very limited)

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: Now that school is back in session, we will be shifting to “fall hours” for the store. We’re open today (Friday, August 26th from 11-6 and Saturday-Sunday, 1-4 pm). Starting next week, The Real Stand will be open Friday-Sunday, 1-4 pm only.  We still have some great produce-tomatoes and Blue Moon Farm collard greens this weekend, and we have our first of the season Goat Merguez from Piemonte Sausage (made from local goat, not ours).  Stay tuned for information about apple cider sales and maybe even some cider doughnuts! Of course, we also have other meats, sausages, cheeses, gelato and more.   Come visit with the goats, check out the chickens in the orchard and enjoy a scoop of gelato. You can also take your picture through our new Delight Flower Farm "goats behaving badly" mural cut-out:

goat mural cut out

Matsuri: Join us on the grounds of Japan House and the University Arboretum for their second annual Japanese festival, Matsuri (Sunday, August 28th 2-7 PM). There will be Japanese food and drink, powerful drum performances by Ho Etsu Taiko, Tsugaru-shamisen performer Michiyoshi Sato, martial arts demos, fashion shows, yukata and cosplay dressing, bubblesand Pokemon face painting, Shiatsu massage, tea ceremonies, Ikebana and Bonsai demonstrations and displays and more! Rain or shine. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery will be serving cups of special Japanese flavors of gelato, including matcha (green tea), toasted black sesame and shiso-plum sorbetto.

CUFarmersCan’t make it to the markets? NO WORRIES—order online and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy way to get the best local food around.  We are continuing this service through the end of September, so we encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t already. Customers love the ease of ordering and the convenient pick up location.

Farm Dinners: After this weekend’s Southern Soul BBQ dinner, we have three dates remaining for the season: Spanish Tapas in September (dinner and brunch actually), The 100 Yard Dinner in October (also dinner and brunch),and Fall Feast with Chef Ed Sura (formerly with Perennial Virant, now with NoMi Restaurant in Chicago). So, if you’ve been saving up for a really memorable meal, go to our website, check out the menus and book your reservations NOW.

Cooking Classes come to the farm: We hosted the first of three cooking classes with chef Alisa DeMarco last evening. It was a full house in our hot and steamy kitchen, but all had a great time and learned some simple but delicious recipes. There are still spaces for the pickling and canning class next Thursday, September 1st.  Sponsored by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Buy Fresh-Buy Local Campaign, here’s the link to class descriptions and registration information. 

CU Artisan Cup: Sunday, October 23rd, 6-8 PM. A friendly competition among Central IL chefs to celebrate the bounty of local foods and raise funds for The Land Connection, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting farmers to land, consumers to sustainable farmers and farmer training. It’s going to be a very special evening, and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery will be there at the “cheese table.”  Check out the details for the event. Tickets are on sale now. They can currently be found at https://thelandconnection.org/tlc-store/artisancupfork.


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 8/18/2016 9:54pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Farm News

After a while, the persistent heat has a hypnotic effect on you.  You begin to get used to being sweaty all the time. The normally insufferable heat in our farm kitchen begins to seem tolerable when the fans are blowing.  Breathing in the stagnant, moisture-laden air becomes second nature.

okra

We finally got some much-needed rain, over two inches in one day. Within 36 hours, there was little trace of it, except for the exponential growth of the tomato vines, exploding cherry tomatoes, okra pods as long as your arm and towering ornamental amaranth.  Yes, the weeds in the herb garden are out of control again. At some point, you begin to lose the zeal of vigilance for keeping them from taking over.  Your tolerance for entropy escalates.

The goats seem less bothered by the heat and humidity as well.  In the past, they would be lining up in front of the barn fans to cool off. Now, I see them foray into the pasture several times during the day, even in the heat of the afternoon. The heat is deceiving. We are easily lulled into believing that summer is endless; the superficial environmental cues corroborate the deception.  The milk in the cheese vat tells another story. The stirrings of subtle changes in butterfat have begun, emblematic of the slow march toward late lactation. There’s a little less whey on top of the chevre; the cream layer is more distinct, the feel of the curd is heavier.  The moon is waning, and so is the month of August. The milk’s cues remind us that summer is finite.

Awesome prairie skies

I know that the Midwest is often dismissed as place devoid of natural beauty.  We have no mountains or oceans, our coastal friends and family remind us constantly.  I concede we lack those geographical features, but we make up for their absence, and we even surpass their splendor with our dramatic open skies.  I contend that the shifting light and cloud formations of our prairie skies are unrivaled. The intensity of our sun rises and sun sets are unmatched.  The summer storms only add to the drama and jaw-dropping beauty.  Does this mean I’ve become a Midwesterner??

sunset glory

sunset

Market News

We are attending only two markets on Saturday, August 20th-Urbana and Bloomington Reminder to our regular Green City Market customers-WE WILL NOT BE ATTENDING THE ABBREVIATED MARKET ON SATURDAY AUGUST 20TH BECAUSE OF THE AIR AND WATER SHOW.  Here’s the lineup of cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Prairie Dropseed—These little chevre rounds with a lovely white rind are aging nicely—try one sliced on a salad or just slice on our crackers and top with a drizzle of honey. There are only a few left and they’re all headed to the Urbana Market
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—you must try this in a feta-watermelon salad recipe—crumbled feta, watermelon cubes, fresh mint and a splash of sherry or rice wine vinegar.
  • Angel Food— our little bloomy, crottin-style cheese. Try slicing it into rounds, dredging it a light crust (egg wash, herbed panko breadcrumbs) and pan frying it. Serve over a salad of fresh greens with some of those succulent ripe tomatoes so plentiful at the markets.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: Getting close to perfection in age.
  • Black Goat: ash-ripened with a delicate yeasty rind, simply delicious right now.
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: if you’re inspired to make Mexican elote (sweet corn with grated cotija cheese and butter and paprika), grab yourself a wedge of our raw-milk grating-style cheese. It’s perfect with sweet corn.
  • Yogurt: We will have pints and quarts of our plain, whole-milk yogurt. Plain and simple—milk and live cultures; nothing more.

We will have our house-made artisan crackers featuring local grains (milled) from Severson Farm (aka Quality Organics) at both markets:  herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre. Try a bag with a couple of our cheeses.

Gelato-local flavors are exploding right now:

  • Blueberry-Lemon Verbena
  • Fresh Mint
  • Sweet Corn
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Peaches & Cream
  • Nectarine Sorbetto
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut (very limited)

Meet the Cheese Maker at Whole Foods-Kingsbury St., Lincoln Park, Chicago: Want to get the inside scoop on how we make our cheeses at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery? I’ll be headed to Chicago tomorrow (Friday, August 19th) to hang out with the cheese mongers of Whole Foods. From 4-6 PM, we’ll talk cheese, goats, Animal Welfare Approved and taste some of our summer’s finest selections. It’ll be geeky in a good way—come on over to their store if you’re in Chicago. 

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: Our store is open with regular hours—Wednesday through Friday, 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 1-4. Our u-pick season for peaches has come to an abrupt end (believe me, we are as disappointed as you are). Stay tuned for information about apple and pear cider sales and maybe even some cider doughnuts! Of course, we also have meats, sausages, cheeses, gelato and more.  Our cherry and full-size tomatoes are coming in fast and furious, so we have them available for purchase too.  Come visit with the goats, and enjoy a scoop of gelato.

CUFarmers:  Can’t make it to the markets? NO WORRIES—order online and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy way to get the best local food around. 

Farm Dinners in August and beyond: Last chance for you last minute procrastinators to scoop up some seats to this weekend’s Indian Vegetarian Dinner and Brunch series.  If you haven’t seen the menu, check it out. We also have a few seats left for our summer southern BBQ with the chef from Vie Restaurant in Western Springs.  The menu is also posted on our website. We’ll be featuring a whole hog raised by Triple S Farms.  If you can’t make these dates in August, no worries—we still have seats for our dinners in September and October. 

Cooking Classes come to the farm! We are VERY excited to welcome back our former chef, Alisa DeMarco. Sponsored by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Buy Fresh-Buy Local Campaign, she will hold three cooking classes in late August through mid -September.  Here’s the link to class descriptions and registration information.  The first class on what to do with all those tomatoes is next week-August 25th.

CU Artisan Cup: A friendly competition among Central IL chefs to celebrate the bounty of local foods and raise funds for The Land Connection, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting farmers to land, consumers to sustainable farmers and farmer training. It’s going to be a very special evening, and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery will be there at the “cheese table.”  Check out the details for the event. Tickets are on sale now. They can currently be found at https://thelandconnection.org/tlc-store/artisancupfork and this link will be available via www.artisancup.com  


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 8/15/2016 5:48pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Hi folks:

I'll be brief. Our farm store "The Real Stand" will be open for regular hours this week and weekend (Wed.-Friday, 11-6 and Sat/Sun 1-4).  We have the last of our neighbor's sweet corn (it's really tender and delicious!) and our very own tomatoes. While we don't have any more U-Pick Peaches, we're hoping to get some local peaches for you to purchase.

We're making a special flavor of gelato this week with fresh Michigan blueberries--Lemon Verbena-Blueberry Swirl.  Of course, there'll be plenty of cheese, yogurt and pints of gelato for you to taste and buy. We also have Bane Family Meats pastured meats and poultry, as well as amazing artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage.

On Wednesday, from 4-6 PM, Laurence the Knife Dude, will be here to sharpen knives while you shop. AND... VISIT CHAMPAIGN COUNTY WILL BE LIVE STREAMING FROM THE FARM during our CSA pick up! THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY FOR 15 SECONDS OF FAME.

Lastly, don't forget to place your orders for veggies, cheese, gelato, yogurt, meats, chicken and eggs through CUFARMERS.COM.  Ordering closes at 10 PM tonight. Pick up is at 1901 S. First Street in the U of I Research Park Parking lot.  

 


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 8/11/2016 11:28pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

Farm News

This week, farmers’ markets across the nation will celebrate “National Farmers’ Market Week.”  At first glance, I construed this to be yet another gimmick to cajole folks to come out and shop the farmers’ markets. The powers that make such proclamations chose the date well; we are approaching the apex of diversity of fruits, vegetables and all the other foods of summer’s bounty.  As I reflected more deeply on the concept of a week dedicated to celebrating farmers’ markets, I circled around a topic of frequent conversation among my fellow farmers whose livelihoods have depended on farmers’ market sales for many years: the gradual erosion of our regular customer base.  At one time not too long ago, we could all assume that if we had great products and showed up at the market, we’d sell out, go home happy and gear up for the next week’s market. 

Gradually, we have come to realize that this assumption is no longer valid.  In the glory days, we would be barely set up by 7AM and be besieged by a steady stream of customers until almost closing time.  Committed market shoppers would not be deterred by a little heat or a brief rain shower. Now, I sometimes feel I could roll bowling balls down the aisles between vendor stalls (and I bowl really badly) and not hit too many people until about 9:30 am.  What does this mean?  Why is this happening?  Folks like us who spend their time thinking about local foods and how people access them have their theories: local foods are more readily available in retail grocery stores; people’s lives are busier with more distractions; markets are an ‘event,’ not a place to by your weekly groceries; people are eating more prepared foods and buying less “raw product;” the list goes on.  

Before I became the person on the selling side of the farmer’s market table, I considered shopping at the farmers’ market a sacred ritual. This was my week’s pilgrimage to procure our family’s staples. I relished at finding a new farmer with some weird new vegetable or fruit or a cheese maker with a dazzling fresh cheese.  I got to the market early to avoid the crowds; I made frequent trips to my car to unload the local food loot.

Now that I am a person on the other side of the table, I relish interacting with my customers; my “regulars” who know what they want, but love to try the new creations we bring to the market.  I rise to the challenge from the folks who proclaim they “hate” goat cheese and who, after reluctantly tasting our fresh chevre, proceed to buy a container.  Of course, I want everyone to feel as dedicated as I do to shopping at farmers’ markets and supporting the farmers who grow the food they buy every week. I want them to wear a well-earned badge of self-righteousness from intimately knowing where their food comes from. Naively, I want to believe that our powers of persuasion, with our emphasis on quality and integrity will win the day.  “Know your food, know your farmer;” this is no mere slogan, it’s a way of life.

Market News

In the true spirit of celebrating National Farmers’ Market week, we’re spreading the love around central Illinois and Chicago. We will be attending three markets on Saturday-Urbana, Bloomington and Green City Market (Lincoln Park in Chicago).  For our Chicago Green City Market goers—HEADS UP-WE WILL NOT BE ATTENDING THE ABBREVIATED MARKET ON SATURDAY AUGUST 20TH BECAUSE OF THE AIR AND WATER SHOW.  So, you might want to stock up this Saturday.  Here’s the lineup of cheeses this week:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper
  • SUMMER SPECIAL: Prairie Dropseed—we have a few left that we’ll be bringing to the markets. Come early if you want one. 
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—you must try this in a feta-watermelon salad recipe—crumbled feta, watermelon cubes, fresh mint and a splash of sherry or rice wine vinegar.
  • Angel Food— our little bloomy, crottin style cheese. Try slicing it into rounds, dredging it a light crust (egg wash, herbed panko breadcrumbs) and pan frying it. Serve over a salad of fresh greens with some of those succulent ripe tomatoes so plentiful at the markets.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This week’s batch is a bit young, so if you like it gooey, let it ripen in your frig for another week.
  • Black Goat: ash-ripened with a delicate yeasty rind, this young batch is heading in a very good direction.
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: if you’re inspired to make Mexican elote (sweet corn with grated cotija cheese and butter and paprika), grab yourself a wedge of our raw-milk grating-style cheese. It’s perfect with sweet corn.
  • Yogurt: We will have pints and quarts of our plain, whole-milk yogurt. Plain and simple—milk and live cultures, nothing more.

We will be bringing more of our house-made artisan crackers featuring local grains (milled) from Severson Farm (aka Quality Organics). Herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre will be featured this week. Try a bag with a couple of our cheeses.

Gelato-we have some great seasonal flavors this week:

  • Sweet Corn
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Peaches & Cream
  • Nectarine Sorbetto
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: Our store is open with regular hours—Wednesday through Friday, 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 1-4. This is the last weekend for local sweet corn (from our neighbor up the road). We have a few bags of peaches from Perry Orchard (near Philo), because our own peaches are suffering from this crazy hot and humid weather.  Of course, we also have meats, sausages, cheeses, gelato and more.  Our cherry tomatoes are coming in fast and furious, so we have them available for purchase too.  Come cool off from the heat, visit with the goats, and enjoy a scoop of gelato in the shade.

CUFarmers:  Can’t make it to the markets? NO WORRIES—order online and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy way to get the best local food around. 

Farm Dinners in August: There are still some seats open for our Indian Vegetarian Dinner and Brunch series next Saturday-Sunday August 20th-21st.  We are making a special Indian cheese for the dinner—a goat “paneer.”  I’m pretty excited about it, along with the rest of the menu. We also have a few seats left for our summer southern BBQ with the chef from Vie Restaurant in Western Springs.  The menu is now posted on our website, and boy does it sound delicious! We’ll be featuring a whole hog raised by Triple S Farms. 

Cooking Classes come to the farm! A number of readers noticed I had inserted a broken link to the sign up page for the farm cooking classes. So, let's try it again. We are VERY excited to welcome back our former chef, Alisa DeMarco. Sponsored by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Buy Fresh-Buy Local Campaign, she will hold three cooking classes in late August through mid -September.  Here’s the correct link to class descriptions and registration information.  


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 8/11/2016 2:25pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

For those of you who tried to connect to the link for on farm cooking classes from my newsletter last week, and encountered a broken link, my apologies. Here is the correct link to the site: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/farmers-market-fresh-cooking-classes-at-prairie-fruits-farm-creamery-tickets-26953038263

Posted 8/5/2016 8:31am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

 Farm News

Art imitating life, science-fiction stories ripped from the headlines; oftentimes, the real story is juicier than the concocted.  This week, we turned our attention back to the garden that is now a jungle.  The neglected tomato vines were so thick, it was hard to tease apart one plant from another.  It was tempting to grab a machete and hack a path back to neat and tidy rows; we opted to use our hands to tackle the job.  As we began our work of weeding and stringing, we noticed the tell-tale signs of caterpillar damage—leaves eaten at the tips, lots and lots of dark green frasse everywhere.  The culprits were hanging just below their latest meal, long, plump and juicy. The infamous tomato hornworm, aka, the larval stage of a beautiful sphynx moth, was having a feast at our tomatoes’ expense. 

hornworm catepillars

I confess that I think the caterpillar is beautiful; garishly lime-green with false white eye spots (their defense against predators) and a little spiky tail emblematic of all sphynx moths.  Although this particular species is considered a pest, I have a special fondness for sphynx moths. They seem to represent a cross-over from insect to bird, hummingbirds in particular. 

The pest has a natural enemy. This “enemy” is not intimated by those big false eyes. A tiny parasitic wasp lays its eggs in the caterpillar, the eggs hatch and start eating the caterpillar from the inside out. Eventually, the parasites reprogram the tiny brain of the caterpillar, commanding it to hang itself on a branch and then die so that the adult wasps can hatch out of it and fly away to seek out their next victims.  Sound like your favorite B Movie Sci Fi flick? Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Alien?  It’s all very real, ghoulishly cool and wonderful way to keep a crop pest in check. 

parasitic wasp

Market News

The proverbial bounty of summer has come to the markets—tomatoes, sweet corn, stone fruits, melons—all, the perfect foil for our cheeses. We will be attending three markets on Saturday-Urbana, Bloomington and Green City Market (Lincoln Park in Chicago), and the Tuesday afternoon market in Champaign (run by The Land Connection).  Here’s the lineup of cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herb de Provence, cracked pepper
  • SUMMER SPECIAL: Prairie Dropseed—we brought this little aged chevre bloomy back for a summer treat—who wouldn’t want to devour a little puffy white ball of cheese that looks like a snow ball in this heat-the paste is firm and fudgy, the rind has lovely mushroom notes. I recommend making a caponata (eggplant and tomato relish) and serving it on toasts with this cheese.
  • Raw-milk feta aged in whey brine—you must try this in a feta-watermelon salad recipe
  • Angel Food—little bloomy, perfect for adorning slices of fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and slivered basil
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: one of our favorite Chicago chefs likes to throw this on the grill (very briefly) to get a slight char and then serves it with a crudité of fresh veggies
  • Black Goat: don’t let the funky rind deter you from enjoying this cheese-folks at the American Cheese Society were going crazy over our ash-ripened bloomy
  • Moonglo: our version of a raw milk tomme, this cheese is firm, sharp and has a lovely fruity finish
  • Magia Negra: if you’re inspired to make Mexican elote (sweet corn with grated cotija cheese and butter and paprika), grab yourself a wedge of our raw-milk grating-style cheese. It’s perfect with sweet corn

Some of our market goers may have noticed that our crackers are back on the market tables (Urbana and Green City Market). We have retooled our cracker recipes using all local grains (mostly from Severson Farm aka Quality Organics)-wheat, oats, blue and yellow corn meal.  We will be making these on a regular basis—herbed flatbread, whole wheat-sesame, blue corn-chevre and oat-chevre-so check them out and let us know what you think. Of course, we think that they are the perfect vehicle to enjoy our cheeses.

Gelato: Our gelato maker is back from vacation (boy, did we miss her), so we’ve got some great summer flavors for you (note: not all flavors are going to all three markets):

  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Peach Crisp
  • Blueberry Sorbetto
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut

The Farm Store “The Real Stand”: Our store is open with regular hours—Wednesday through Friday, 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 1-4. We still have some fantastic local sweet corn (from our neighbor up the road), meats, sausages, cheeses, gelato and more.  We have started harvesting our cherry tomatoes, so we have them available for purchase.  Our peach crop is in hiatus right now (no U-Pick for another week or two), but we might be bringing in another local farmer’s peaches. They aren’t organic, but we taste tested them, and they are very sweet and juicy. 

CUFarmers: Can’t make it to the markets? NO WORRIES—order online and then pick up your order at the University of IL Research Park on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s an easy way to get the best local food around. 

Farm Dinners in August: Believe it or not, we still have some seats open to the two dinners and one brunch this month. Our only ALL VEGETARIAN dinner-brunch is August 20th-21st. The menu, crafted by our friends at Sunday Dinner Club, is Indian-Inspired—spicy foods for hot times. My mouth waters when I re-read the menus. You should check them out, be smitten and click on the reservations button. We also have a few seats left for our summer southern BBQ with the chef from Vie Restaurant in Western Springs.  We’ll be featuring a whole hog raised by Triple S Farms. 

Cooking Classes come to the farm! We are VERY excited to welcome back our former chef, Alisa DeMarco. Sponsored by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance’s Buy Fresh-Buy Local Campaign, she will hold three cooking classes in late August through mid -September.  Here’s the link to class descriptions and registration information.   


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.