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Posted 6/3/2016 7:53am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

I believe every farmer has the running title of “things fall apart,” Chinua Achebe’s novel of chaos and anarchy in Africa, running through his/her brain weekly, whether they realize it or not. Most farms these days rely on equipment from tractors to tillers to mowers. Most farmers buy old, used equipment, improving the chances that something will break frequently. 

Things falling apart or breaking come in waves, but sometimes, the waves approach tsunami size.  These past few weeks, the theme has been refrigeration run amuck.  Being a dairy farm and creamery, keeping products cold is essential. Bulk tanks chill the milk as it exits the goats; chillers cool the water that runs through our aging rooms and compressors must keep refrigerant in their lines to keep our walk-in cooler at the proper temperatures for cheeses ready for market.  Lastly, our glass-top portable market cooler must maintain critical temperatures to keep our products safe at the farmers’ markets.  When any one of these fail, we scramble to move milk and cheese around to keep products at their proper temperature.  When several fall apart at once, patience is tested and creativity at product movement is maxed out.  Around here, our HVAC guy is golden, especially when he shows up at 9 pm to fix a compressor, so life can continue in the land of chilled dairy products. 

Farmers’ Market News

This Saturday, June 4th, we’re attending Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market.  It’s finally feeling like summer (the air has some weight to it), and we’re flush with cheese and gelato.

Here’s what we’re bringing:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta: I’ve been making the sugar snap pea, ricotta salad recipe I posted last week. It’s sublime (I'll have copies of the recipe to hand out at the market)
  • Angel Food: crottin-style bloomy rind, great for an impromptu “snack” on the patio with a glass of wine
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert-style cheese; make that two for the impromptu snack
  • Black Goat: our ash-ripened delicate (and funky) rind bloomy: make that three for the afternoon snack
  • Moonglo: our raw milk tomme-style semi-hard cheese. Yes, it really is back this week. If you really want decadence, try it on a burger
  • Magia Negra: our raw milk grating-style cheese, the rind is rubbed with a black-currant-olive-oil paste; try shaving some on roasted veggies

For Gelato, we’ll be bringing plenty of pints of fewer flavors:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Salted Caramel
  • Plum Sorbetto
  • Aronia Berry Sorbetto

CUFarmers: Our multi-farmer local food “buying club” is open for orders starting 8AM TODAY (Friday) and closes Monday, June 6th at 10pm.  If you haven’t tried ordering, check it out. It’s quite simple and an efficient way to access amazing food from salad mix to eggs to cheese and gelato (and many items in between).  Pick-ups happen on Wednesday afternoon (4-6 pm) at the Ameren Jump Building on Oak Street (across from Chesterbrook Academy). 

On Farm Sales: We have received a lot of inquiries lately about our farm open hours. We are working on creating a farm store with regular hours.  Called “The Real Stand,” the store will feature our farm products as well as those from other local farms and food artisans that uphold our high standards of sustainability and animal welfare.  We are also doing a lot of “house cleaning” to make the farm more accessible for self-guided tours and interactive experiences.  We are hoping to open sometime in mid-June. I will keep everyone posted. In the meantime, if you’d like to come out to purchase farm products (cheese, gelato, raw milk, yogurt, sausages, etc.), just call or email us and we’ll try to accommodate your request.  We still offer organized guided tours (for a fee) if you have a group of people who want to see the farm and taste our products.

Mexican Farm Dinner Tickets are going fast, so get ‘em while they last: There are still some seats remaining. Check out the menu and book your reservations through Sunday Dinner Club’s TOCK system.   

 


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 5/27/2016 7:21pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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NEWSFLASH: This past week, Blue Moon Farm, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery and Bane Family Meats mounted a quiet (a little too quiet for our liking) revolution in local foods marketing in Champaign Urbana.  We've created a multi-farm, on-line "farmers' market" or buying club for our foodshed called "CUFarmers.com"  Our website (www.cufarmers.com) enables our customers to select from weekly offerings of certified organic vegetables, "Animal Welfare Approved" goat cheeses and dairy products and pasture-raised beef, pork, poultry and eggs.  

Each Friday morning (bright and early at 8:00 AM), our online "store" opens and you can make your selections.  The store closes the following Monday evening (at 10PM), so that each farmer can fill your orders and bring them to the University of Illinois Research Park on Wednesdays from 4-6PM.  Our pick up location is just inside the hallway of the Ameren Jump Building on Oak Street (across the street from Chesterbrook Academy). 

What's novel about this and why "shop" here?

Sustainable farmers like us are starting to work together to bring a diversity of high-quality products closer to our customers. We realize that not everyone can make it to the farmers' markets. We know that you want great local food, but you need it to be a little more convenient to access.  We are working to make our on-line ordering system easy for our customers.  Please come check us out: order from May 27-30th then come to Ameren Jump Building on Oak Street next Wednesday-June 1st (4-6PM).  

 


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 5/26/2016 7:44pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

We tasted the first spring batches of Moonglo today. Our latest iteration of recipe tweaking has paid off:  these batches are creamy, buttery and have hints of fruit and “fatty” milk.  Moonglo, named after one of the pear varieties in our orchard (in fact, it’s now the only remaining variety of pear, since the others succumbed to fire blight) embodies the best and the worst of our prairie dairy.  As a raw-milk tomme made with seasonal milk, it captures the ebbs and flows of butterfat and protein and it tracks the biochemical transformations of plant secondary compounds into flavor-building fatty acids.  Although each batch of cheese is washed with a cultured briny tea made from the leaves of the Moonglo pear, no two batches develop the same rind, as the seasons’ winds blow ever-changing microbiomes into the cracks and crevices of our cheeserie.   

Over the years that we have been making this cheese, I have always had an idealized version of it in my mind.  At times, I feel like I have been on a quixotic quest to attain this ideal version, with a slightly creamy texture and the perfect balance of fruit and nut notes on the palate.  As my understanding of cheese making has broadened (and deepened), we have made some minor, and then fairly major, changes to the recipe.  The greatest challenge to making this raw milk cheese is that we can’t evaluate the effects of our recipe changes until a minimum of two months into the aging process.  In the meantime, we’ve made several batches that may or may not get us closer to my ideal version of Moonglo. 

If I were a really good scientist, I would only change one variable at a time, so I could better evaluate changes in cultures, curd size, cook temperatures and other factors that affect the flavor and texture of an aged raw-milk cheese. I confess that I’m impatient, and I’ve changed several variables at once. Sometimes, this gets me closer to my ideal; other times, it pushes me further away, leaving me uncertain about the one variable that may have tipped things toward or away from the goal.  Over the past couple of seasons, we threw caution to the wind and made some radical changes to the recipe.  I feel good about those changes; my ideal Moonglo may still be beyond reach, but I feel we are closer than ever. 

Moonglo

Farmers’ Markets-Holiday Weekend

This Saturday (Memorial Day Weekend), we are attending both Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market. Although, there’s a chance of showers, don’t let the threat of some raindrops deter you from shopping for some mouth-watering local foods to serve to your family and friends over the long holiday weekend. Memorial Day transitions us from spring to summer, and I know the markets will be brimming full of produce from both seasons.  We will be doing our part to keep you well stocked with cheese, yogurt and gelato:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—try it on a burger, dollop it on a salad, spread it on some crackers—so versatile
  • Fresh, whole milk ricotta:  our firm, Italian-basket style ricotta is perfect for a spring salad with snap peas and pea shoots. Our friend and market patron, Brenda, shared this recipe with us from a recent trip to Boston (Note: if sugar snap peas aren't at the market this weekend, substitute with braised greens, and crunchy radishes). 

recipe with ricotta

  • Goat milk feta: we have a limited amount of this first batch of raw milk tangy, crumbly deliciousness, so come early if you want some.
  • All three bloomies are in the house: Angel Food (crottin), Little Bloom on the prairie (camembert) and Black Goat (ash-ripened robiola style; this batch is young, but yummy)
  • Our first batches of Moonglo and Magia Negra (black currant-paste rubbed, hard, grating- style cheese) may make their seasonal debuts at the markets this Saturday. We’ll keep you guessing for now. 
  • Goat milk yogurt: just pasteurized milk and live cultures—nothing more, nothing less—sold in pints and quarts

Each Market will have slightly different selections of gelato this weekend: Urbana will have:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Pistachio
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Local Strawberry (limited quantity)
  • Honey Chevre
  • Fresh (chocolate) mint
  • Plum Sorbetto

Chicago’s Green City Market will have:

  • Salted caramel swirl
  • Aronia sorbetto (tart and burgundy gorgeous)
  • Plum sorbetto
  • Apple Mint gelato
  • Lemon balm-rose thyme
  • Rhubarb swirl

Waxing poetic about farm to table meals. Our upcoming Mexican Farm Dinner still has tickets available.  If you’re thinking your father won’t want to go to some fru-fru farm-to-table meal for Father’s Day, think again.  Please let me tempt you with Sunday Dinner Club’s poetic description of the menu:

“First course of a crispy sope (a glorious masa boat made from corn masa) announces the official arrival of summer, filled with spring peas, luscious duck confit, and tangy herby salsa verde. Next comes summer squash soup with PFF yogurt and crunchy tortilla strips. Then, deep red mole pools around roasted pork loin, with fried peanuts and rice to sop up every last drop. As per usual, we have a hard time not serving churros for dessert, and this dinner is no exception. These fried corriander sugary heavenly dough sticks will be served with local strawberry gelato made at the farm.

The guest farm for this dinner is Bane Family Meats in Sidney, IL. David Bane and his wife Susan raise heritage breed hogs in the woodlands around his farm. They forage in the forest on tubers and roots. The breed selected for the Mexican dinner is called "Hereford" (yes, for those of you who know your beef breeds, you might be thinking, 'wait a minute, I thought you said pork, not beef') and it is especially delicious and delicate meat. David is very excited to share this pork with you and tell you how he raises his livestock. www.banefarm.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 5/19/2016 10:30pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Weather is the bane of all farmers. We obsess over it, we talk about it incessantly, we fret over it and we wring our hands in frustration when it turns our work plans into mud and puddles. These days, I dare you to find any farmer who doesn’t have a radar app on his/her smart phone.  Weather forces farmers to relinquish control; this has been one of the most challenging aspects of farming for me.  So, when the radar app shows giant zones of blue/green and the dreaded orange-red (that’s a really intense rain storm) just as the farmers’ market is about to start, the mind darts from coolers full of cheese and gelato to the increasingly wet pavement and the sparsity of bodies roaming the market place and fills with a combination of resignation and despair.  I don’t know if it’s sheer coincidence, or some higher power playing with those of us who live from the land and the markets, but lately it seems like the clouds gather and spill their contents at farmers’ markets. 

The control-seeking part of my brain wrestles with the fatalistic-superstitious part of my brain when the weather patterns don’t align with our plans.  We have been trying for a few weeks to get our new buckling pen built and fenced so we can move them onto pasture.  We have been itching to get our ground tilled so we can put in our garden. Our orchard ladies have been seizing the narrow windows between rain storms to spray the trees with organic treatments to keep the pests at bay.  Sometimes, we get the breaks we’re craving. I can feel it in the warming hazy air tonight. The windmill outside is barely spinning, slackened from its usual gale force speed. I’ll let my mind wander to thoughts of planting tomorrow. 

Farmers’ Markets and Debut of CUFarmers.com

We’re attending Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market this coming Saturday, May 21st.  Wes and I will be in Urbana, while Rey, our new Chicago cheese monger, will be greeting patrons at Green City (if you’re in Chicago, please go meet Rey and have him give you tastes of cheese and gelato).  We have cheese:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta: try it on some grilled veggies this weekend
  • Goat milk Feta: YES, it’s back, but in a new form—raw (unpasteurized) milk version that has been aging in a whey brine for two months. It’s got a great tart taste and nice crumbly-creamy texture. 
  • Angel Food: crottin style (firm paste, bloomy rind)-delicate and delicioius
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie—nice gooey exterior
  • Goat milk yogurt: just pasteurized milk and live active cultures—NOTHING ELSE

We have gelato and sorbetto this week:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Fresh Mint
  • Apple Mint
  • Lemon-Balm-Rose-Thyme
  • Rhubarb Swirl
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Honey Chevre
  • Plum Sorbetto (water based-non-dairy)

Tomorrow (Friday) at 8:00 AM, the online “store” for CU Farmers will be open.  If you haven’t been reading my newsletters, CU Farmers is a NEW multi-farmer, customizable CSA available to folks who work in the University of IL Research Park, or really anyone who works or lives near there. We're partnering with Blue Moon Farm and Bane Family Meats to offer vegetables, meats, poultry, eggs and dairy products.  How does it work? You go to the cufarmers.com website. You sign up (login and create a password). You place your orders for whatever products you’d like to pick up (starting Friday mornings at 8AM through the next Monday, 10PM), we fulfill your orders and you pick them up and pay for them on Wednesday afternoons (4-6PM) inside the Ameren-Jump Building (on Oak Street) at the University of IL Research Park.  It’s simple, it’s convenient and it’s a great selection of high quality local foods. 

Farm Dinners: YES, we still have tickets. I know many of you think that our farm dinners sell out as soon as tickets go on sale. Well, actually, we don’t sell out so fast anymore, which gives you more time to make reservations. We have a fantastic menu planned for our Mexican farm dinner on June 18th.  Take a look at the details and book your seats now.  

 


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 5/17/2016 1:01pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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For those of you in and around Central IL, a few things to note:

We'll be attending The Land Connection's Downtown Champaign Farmers' Market this afternoon (4-7). We're bringing LOTS of cheese:

  • Fresh Chevre
  • Fresh ricotta
  • Angel Food (yes, it's back)
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie 
  • Black Goat
  • Plain Goat Milk Yogurt-pints and quarts

We have pints of gelato too:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Apple Mint
  • Lemon Balm-Rose Thyme
  • Honey Chevre
  • Stracciatella (limited)
  • Espresso

For anyone who works or lives near the University of IL Research Park, don't forget to sign up for the "CU Farmers" customizable CSA.  We will start taking orders this coming Friday, May 20th at 8:00.  www.cufarmers.com

We still have plenty of seats for our upcoming Mexican farm dinner on June 18th and our "Big Steak" dinner-brunch series in July. Check out the details and book your tickets now.  

That's all for now-sweet and to the point.  More updates at the end of this week.


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 5/12/2016 9:42pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

It’s been awhile since I’ve written an obituary for one of our senior goats.  Yesterday, we found Millie, the first doe born on our farm (to Queen of the Nile and Everett Lee way back in March 2005), curled in restful position inside the goat shelter in the pasture; she died in her sleep (this never happens in all my years of agonizing over old sick goats). She was 11 years old.  Her loss is profound because her life embodies the growth and evolution of our farm and dairy.  The birth of our first Nubian doelings-Millie and Tillie (her sister) held such promise to the neophyte farmers and cheese makers that we were. We knew so little about how to care for these little creatures-like a new parent, every little cry sent me into a panic over its meaning. 

baby millie

With Millie’s mother’s milk and that from Chocolate and Snickerdoodle (who had kidded back in late November-early December of the previous year—that’s another story of utter inexperience), I was able to experiment and hone my cheese making skills in the safe confines of my kitchen.  This milk and the countless trial batches of chevre derived from it, gave me the confidence that I could make a product for which people might actually pay money. 

By the time Millie joined the lineup of milkers in the spring of 2006, we had become a licensed dairy and farmstead creamery and were already selling our cheeses in Urbana and Chicago.  After a couple of freshening seasons, it became clear that Millie had the ‘right stuff’ to take a prominent place in our milking herd. We started to keep her doelings as replacements, and eventually we bred her using artificial insemination to get a new herd sire (Nate).  Millie’s genes pervade our herd.  Her caprine spirit runs wide and deep.  As I look at the generations of Millie and Nate daughters on the milk lines, I see the progression of improvements-the well-attached udders, the steady-as-you-go milk production, the high butterfat and protein.  These attributes have been so fundamental to the milk quality that goes into our cheeses.  These qualities have built the reputation of our breeding stock, which I now have little trouble selling.

Leslie and Millie

We retired Millie last spring, after a prolonged respiratory illness that nearly took her life.  While she had lost a lot of weight and remained skinny, she had regained her spunk, her proud attitude as a herd matron.  Before we moved her and the other retirees out to the pasture this spring, she served as peacekeeper, when dominance spats arose during kidding season.  She was spunky to the very end, greeting me every morning with a nice wad of cud in her cheeks. 

Farmers’ Markets

Week two of farmers’ market season: we’re attending both Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market on Saturday, May 14th.  The weather will be a bit chilly (relative to how it’s been), but that shouldn’t stop you from shopping.  We’ll be bringing lots of great cheese:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Spring plateau: this is the last of these bit-size brie-style cheeses—come early
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: this batch is a bit young but headed in a very good direction
  • Black Goat
  • Goat milk ricotta: fresh and delicious
  • Goat milk yogurt: pints and quarts—pure culture goodness

Grab a pint of goat milk gelato to take home:

  • Lemon Balm-Rose Thyme
  • Apple Mint (we have so much apple mint in our herb garden, we decided to experiment; glad we did)
  • Rhubarb Swirl-Sarah, our new gelatieri, made scrumptious rhubarb jam that she swirled into a vanilla base-it’s delicious!
  • Salted caramel swirl
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso

Other Happenings 

Farm store open on Sunday, May 15th We are working on gussying up the farm for the season so we can welcome visitors on a regular basis. In the meantime, we’ll open our doors on Sunday from 10 AM to 4PM. Come on out to see the goats (we have a few new babies) and check out the beginnings of our farm “store.” We will have cheese and gelato, of course. We also have Piemonte Sausages, a few dozen eggs (from our hens) and some other items.  You can even cut some chive blossoms or lilac blooms if you like.  We hope to have regular week-day and weekend hours in the next few weeks, but this is our “sneak preview.”

Introducing CU Farmers: a multi-farm customizable “CSA”

Blue Moon Farm (organic veggies), Bane Family Meats (pastured meat, poultry, eggs) and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery are teaming up to offer a unique opportunity.  Each week, starting Wednesday, May 25th, we will be bringing pre-ordered local foods to the University of IL Research Park (Ameren Jump Building) for patrons who either work or live near the Research Park.  We've created an online ordering system through our website: www.cufarmers.com . The “store” will open on Friday May 20th and close the following Monday (23rd).  Patrons can select from each farmer’s products, we’ll put it all together and you come pick it up (Wednesday afternoons from 4-6 PM).  We offer the highest quality local foods with impeccable integrity at reasonable prices in a convenient platform of ordering and delivery. The “cherry on top” is that you get to meet the folks who grew your food.  What could be better?  Interested? Go to the website and sign up to receive our weekly email explaining what’s on offer and how to order.   


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 5/5/2016 10:02pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

We humans are prone to anthropomorphize. We see ourselves in other creatures; we project our feelings onto them and assume their behaviors share our drivers.  In my former life as a scientist, this tendency was considered taboo. Human interactions have always been put in a class apart, associated with sentient beings.  Having now lived intimately for over a decade with goats, I’m more inclined to cross the line that supposedly separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. 

Since we separate our kids from their mothers at birth and bottle feed them, we don’t really give them a fair shake at developing the mother-kid bond. The mother as source of nourishment is pretty fundamental, whether you’re a bird or a primate.  In our dairy, we humans become the surrogate mothers for our “kids;” we feed them and wipe their poopy butts.  We also express our affections for them in human ways, with hugs and kisses (goats don’t hug). 

Although we believe we meet the needs of our kids (and their mothers), I have come to realize that the mother-kid bond goes beyond meeting basic life-sustaining needs. I don’t believe it’s sheer coincidence that I often see mothers and grandmothers next to daughters and granddaughters on the milk stand.  I don’t think it’s chance to find mothers snuggled next to their daughters in the doe barn on a cold winter’s night.  Motherly love is transcendent. 

chicory and baby

Farmers’ Markets

The first Saturday markets of the season are here: Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Wes and Lynn (one of our cheese makers) will be greeting patrons in Urbana, while I’ll be heading to Chicago with our new Chicago cheese “monger” Rey.  If you’re in Chicago, come meet Rey and taste some cheese.  We’ll have:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta: it’s so sweet, you’ll want to eat it for dessert, I like mine with maple syrup and granola
  • Spring plateau—get them while they last, an ode to early spring bloomyness
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-first of the season and boy is this batch tasty
  • Black Goat: also the first of the season, slightly tangy with a delicate rind
  • Goat milk yogurt: yes, we’ll be bringing our smooth yogurt in two sizes: pint and quart. We add nothing but live cultures to our pasteurized milk to make this yogurt; ask us for a taste.

For gelato, we’re bringing:

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

First farm to table meals on the farm—Sunday Dinner Club (SDC) chefs are busy getting things prepped for the first dinner-brunch series of the season.  Caveny Farm Lamb, Cow Creek Farm Ramps, Blue Moon Farm greens (and lots of cheese from PFFC) are the culinary guests of honor on this Italian themed weekend.  We are SOO excited about this partnership with SDC. Believe it or not, there are still a couple of seats for dinner and several for Sunday brunch available. Check out the menus and sign up now. Spread some of that love to your mothers


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

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

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Farm News

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

doelings on the road

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

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

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

new buckling

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

Spring Open House

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

Here’s the menu for breakfast:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other farmers/vendors:

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

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

Farmers’ Markets and CSA Season Starts Next Week:

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

THERE ARE A FEW SEATS LEFT FOR THE MAY 7TH DINNER AND MAY 8TH BRUNCH SO GET THEM WHILE THEY LAST. WE’RE CLOSE TO SELLING 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 4/21/2016 9:34pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header

 Farm News

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

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

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

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

Spring Open House

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

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

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

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

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

In pints: Vanilla Chocolate Honey Chevre Lemon Crème Plum Swirl

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

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

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

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


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.

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

new header

 Farm news

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

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

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

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

Breakfast with Baby Goats:

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

Cheeses:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Copyright 2016. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2016. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.