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Posted 7/8/2016 9:40am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

About a week and a half ago, we adopted a new dog. She’s an old new dog with a lot of recent tragedy in her life.  Despite her age (somewhere between 11-13-no one really knows as she was rescued at the Humane Society), she’s bright and light on her feet.  Everyone believes that farms are a dog’s paradise-ample room to roam free, millions of pheromones to stimulate their sensitive noses, tall vegetation on which they can mark their scent and lots and lots of ways to get really dirty and stinky. From a dog owner’s perspective, farm dogs can do their daily business wherever they like (for the most part) and there’s no need to follow behind with a pooper scooper. 

Despite the upheaval in her recent life, she was adapting remarkably well to our farm within a few days of arrival.  She was curious about the goats. She seemed to like the frequent visitors to the farm and all the new people in her life. She and Blue seemed to have a tepid understanding (although Blue, being an only dog, did not take well to a new canine in the family) with occasional spats over who would go through a door first or garner the affections of their owners. 

After several days, we let her off leash. She discovered the “pond” (aka the borrow pit) and would sneak off for a dip several times a day. She always came when called and mostly wanted to hang around us.  So, last Saturday, when we went outside to do the night chores (closing up the chickens, checking on the goats, flipping some cheese), she came with us. There were rumblings of fireworks off in the distance, but she didn’t seem too bothered by them. I knew she had intense thunderstorm anxiety, so I watched her closely as the booms and crackles sounded.  She headed toward the chicken coop, while I went into the cheeserie. When I came out ten minutes later, she wasn’t with Wes. We called for her and she didn’t come. I went to the pond calling for her, since that had become her new favorite spot—no sign.  Flashlights in hand, we split up to walk the farm and roads, calling for her-still no sign.  After two hours of walking and calling, we suspended the search, convinced we would find her with day light. 

We spent most of Sunday, under steady rainfall, searching wider and wider areas around our farm neighborhood, enlisting help from friends, attempting to call the sheriff’s office and animal control (they are closed on weekends and holidays), the Humane Society; no one was open on a holiday weekend. We even had friends go back to her old neighborhood in Urbana to see if somehow she found her way back there: nothing.  With Monday being a holiday, I cast the search net wider-more friends, Facebook dog rescue pages, posting signs around the local roads, more driving, more calling, more searching.  Feelings of helplessness, regret (should have had her on a leash longer, shouldn’t have let her out at night), fear (that harm would have come to her, that she would be hungry and confused), guilt (we had barely had her for a week and now she was in another very traumatic situation) overwhelmed me.  She had trusted us to take care of her and heal her emotional wounds, and now we had lost her. 

All I could do was wait until Tuesday morning to call Animal Control to see if someone had found her.  Tuesday morning, I made the call.  I gave her description to the woman on the phone. She went back to look. “Yes, she’s here,” the woman said. She was picked up Saturday night (several miles from our farm) and brought in Sunday morning.  I couldn’t believe my ears; she had not been wandering in confusing cornfields for days, cold, wet and dehydrated.  She was a in a strange kennel with lots of other barking dogs. I rushed to get her out of there.  She’s been back home for several days now, readjusted to her new life as a farm dog, on leash for a while longer.  She sleeps on the bed or on the couch, curled in a ball. We are all relieved. 

oona dog

Market News We’re attending three markets this Saturday (July 9th): Urbana, Bloomington and Green City Market and the Tuesday Land Connection Market (July 11th). We are flush with some great cheese:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta-better get it while it lasts-we may not be making it much longer if the heat lowers milk production
  • Goat milk Feta: YES! It’s back. Our new version is made with raw milk and aged for 60 days in a whey brine. It’s creamy-crumbly in texture with a nice tangy taste. Perfect for your tomato basil salad
  • Angel Food: little crottin-style bloomy rind cheese
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: camembert-style goat round
  • Black Goat: ash-ripened bloomy, this batch has a little bit of wild blue mold on the rind-don’t be alarmed; it’s delicious. 
  • Moonglo: our raw milk tomme—perfect cheese for a fancy grilled cheese sandwich
  • Magia Negra: with pesto season upon us, this is your local alternative to parmesan
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: plain and simple—pints and quarts

Gelato? We’ve got that too (not all flavors are going to all markets)

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Honey Lavender
  • Red Currant
  • Raspberry Swirl
  • Stracciatella
  • Tart Cherry Amaretto
  • Spiced Butter Pecan
  • Local Strawberry (limited)
  • Nectarine Sorbetto

Farm Store: The Real Stand

We’re open for visitors and local food shoppers. Hours are Wednesday-Friday, 11-6 and Saturday-Sunday, 10-4. Sunday, the 17th, we have a farm brunch from 10-12, so our hours will be limited to 1:00-4:00 that day (and any Sunday that we have a brunch scheduled). In addition to our cheeses, gelato and goat milk soaps, we have products from Bane Family Meats (eggs, poultry, beef and pork), sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co. (pork and chicken), yarn from Leichester wool-Seven Sisters Farm AND starting next week (Thursday or Friday), we will have LOCAL SWEET CORN!!

CUFarmers is back on line, after taking a week off. Ordering started this morning and runs through next Monday at 10pm.  Check out the great products from Blue Moon Farm, Bane Family Meats and Prairie Fruits Farm. If you work or live in Southwest Champaign—this local foods buying club makes it EASY for you to get some of the best local foods in our area. We are moving our pick up location within the U of I Research Park to 1901 South 1st Street (Catepillar Building Parking lot), Champaign, 61820. We will be set up outside when the weather is good, and inside the Catepillar Building when the weather is bad. Pick up time stays the same: Wednesdays from 4-6 pm

Farm Dinners/Brunches: All dates are open for ticket purchase now. We still have plenty of seats open for the July 17th “big steak” brunch.  How could you resist steak and eggs or biscuits with red-eye gravy?? 


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 6/30/2016 7:25pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

In this country, we celebrate the rugged individual, the “self-made man,” the “every man (or woman) is an island.”  We host parades, ignite massive quantities of colorful explosives and stuff our faces with burgers, sweet corn and cherry pie; all to glorify the independent spirit upon which our country’s values were founded. On the eve of our country’s independence, I’d like to celebrate dependence. 

As farmers, we depend on so many things: the natural world, our livestock, our neighboring farmers.  We depend on the soil to grow our crops. We depend on pollinating insects to turn flowers into fruit. We are at the mercy of the weather’s whim to give us rain or no rain, heat or not so much heat.  We depend on our goats to be healthy, eat lots of forage and provide us with plentiful and delicious milk.  We depend on our dogs to keep predators at bay and eat the occasional rodent (and lagomorph) pests.  We depend on our neighbors to grow the grains and hay that we can’t grow for lack of land. 

It goes against our American nature to embrace dependence.  It’s often construed as a sign of weakness or failure.  I reject this tenet of American-ness. I believe that a farmer’s dependence on the things and beings over which we have so little control embodies strength.  In fact, we derive humility and great satisfaction in identifying the strands that tie us to such a complex web of dependence.  Happy in-dependence day!

Other Farm News

Our neighbors have started to harvest the wheat field to the south of our farm.  While they’ll sell the grain on the open market, we’ll be buying all the straw.  I’ll miss the view of amber waves of grain outside my window, but I’ll think of that beautiful wheat field every time we re-bed our goat barns with fresh straw. The goat girls will thank them too. Even the old gals love a good roll in the straw when it’s freshly spread. 

The last of May-birth kids will be weaned tomorrow; transitioning from their dependence on milk replacer to dependence on grain and hay.  They haven’t been super interested in milk replacer over the past couple of weeks, but I noticed them chugging on the self-feeder nipples this evening. Maybe they suspect something is up. 

Our farm store “The Real Stand” opens tomorrow-July 1st. We will be open from 11-6 on Friday and 10-4 on Saturday and Sunday of this holiday weekend. While we don’t have all things in place yet, we have enough to make the trip to the farm worthwhile.  We’ve created a mulch path with signs around the farm so people can explore on their own. We’re working on a play area for kids—giant hay piles to climb on, hammocks and swings in the trees.  Of course, guests can still walk through the kid barn and visit with the goats.  U-pick peach season will begin in about three weeks.  The farm store will have cheese, gelato, meats, poultry, eggs from Bane Family meats, sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co.  We have beautiful spun yarn from Seven Sisters Farm. We’ll be adding more farmers’ products as time goes on.  Stay tuned. Need directions? CLICK HERE

Farmers’ Market News

We’re attending three markets this Saturday, July 2nd: Urbana’s Market at the Square, Chicago’s Green City Market and Downtown Bloomington’s Farmers’ Market.  The forecast is calling for unseasonably cool and sunny weather—PERFECT for shopping at the markets and stocking up on GREAT local foods for your holiday weekend gustatory celebrations.  Need cheese? We’ve got that:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta (check out the two new recipes I’ve posted on our website for ricotta—one sweet with seasonal peaches, one savory-both really simple and quick). 
  • Angel Food: firm “brie” or crottin style
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: perfectly ripe camembert style
  • Black Goat: this batch is begging to be put on the bun that will house your burger
  • Moonglo: raw-milk, semi-firm, complex, simply yummy
  • Magia Negra: try it in place of parmesan if you’re making pesto this weekend
  • Goat milk yogurt: use it as a marinade for chicken or pork, make an herbed ‘crema’ with our yogurt and drizzle over grilled veggies, OR just serve it with some of those glorious berries that are plentiful at the markets right now

You will NEED Gelato to go with whatever desserts you're making this weekend (NOTE: not all flavors going to all markets):

  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Spiced Butter Pecan
  • Amaretto Cherry
  • Red Currant
  • Honey Lavender
  • Fresh Mint
  • Local Strawberry
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut

Farm Dinners: Don’t forget to check out the latest round of farm dinner themes for August through October.  They’re gonna be GREAT, so book your reservations NOW (you’re probably already on vacation, so you should have plenty of time to look over the themes and splurge on some tickets.  The meals are not just about the great food—you get to experience great food surrounded by the beauty of our farm.   

 


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 6/23/2016 7:36pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

The phrase “build it and they will come” is so overused, I thought hard before invoking it this week. After wrestling with the cliché police and shoving their reprimands back into the recesses of my brain, I decided to go for it. The “build it” refers to the “borrow pit” that was dug last year in the field south of our farm.  For those not familiar with the term, “borrow pit” refers to the giant hole dug in the ground (in our case, it’s about 8 acres) so that the excavated soil can be used to build overpasses in new road construction.  Since the infamous “Olympian Drive” project required a bridge spanning five sets of railroad tracks, the pit created was especially wide and deep.  The amazing thing about digging a hole in flat prairie country is that the shallow groundwater rushes in to fill the void. 

Not too long after water started seeping in, the water-loving creatures started to migrate in (this is the “they will come” part). Of course, you would expect to see Canada geese.  They arrived last fall. Our response to the appearance of geese: ambivalence.  While lovely to watch as they fly in formation or gracefully descend onto the still water surface, the mess they leave behind (baby geese, lots and lots of goose poop) is less attractive.  Early this spring, we started to hear the buzz and hum of amphibians-frogs and toads. Upon investigation (Wes with Blue, the dog in tow), found hundreds of tadpoles swimming along the pond’s edge.  Now, as the sun sets, and the strawberry moon of summer solstice rises, the low-pitched and trilling frog songs fill the still air; the din is deafening, in a good way.  As much as I hate to ascribe any benefit to this “borrow pit,” the new sounds of aquatic life have enriched the diversity of our little prairie farm.

Summer didn’t wait for solstice this year-we’ve been in the thick of hot and steamy weather for over a week now.  When you start the day at 6:30 am with 80 degrees and 90% humidity, it’s hard to convince yourself that being outside is good for your soul. The goats spend their mornings in the shade of tall pasture, then, they come back to the barn for an afternoon siesta in the shade (although all the fans do is blow hot air around the barn).  We try to coax them to eat, to keep up their milk production, but they don’t want to expend too much energy. The evenings don’t provide too much relieve either-last night, I went out to give the girls a late night snack of alfalfa bailage and came back into the house drenched with sweat; lots of cool showers and air conditioning—the only way to a good night’s sleep. 

Farmers’ Markets

Downtown Bloomington, here we come.  I will be attending Downtown Bloomington’s Farmers’ Market this Saturday, June 25th, along with my cheese monger in training, David. The market runs from 7:30 to 12, and our stand will be located next PrairiErth Farm.  So, Bloomington-Normal folks: come out and taste some cheese and gelato.  Wes will be manning our stand in Urbana (Urbana’s Market at the Square), while Rey will be slinging the cheese at Green City Market in Chicago.  Next Tuesday, June 28th, we’ll be at The Land Connection’s Downtown Champaign Market (hey Champaign-we need to see some market patrons at this market—it’s an easy afternoon market—no crowds, great local foods-please support it).  Here’s what we’re bringing:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta—this fresh cheese is PERFECT for a cool summer salad
  • Angel Food: crottin-style
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: this batch is especially ooey-gooey bloomy deliciousness
  • Black Goat: delicate and tangy
  • Moonglo: try melting it on a burger
  • Magia Negra: use it in place of parmesan for a summer pesto
  • Whole Milk Yogurt: just milk and live cultures, nothing more, so delicious

Gelato-so many great local flavors this time of year:

  • Red Currant
  • Tart Cherry Stracciatella
  • Spiced Butter Pecan
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Local Strawberry
  • Aronia Berry
  • Honey Lavender
  • Fresh Mint
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate 
  • Hazelnut

If you can’t make it to the markets, consider our on-line multi-farmer buying club: CUFarmers. It’s an easy, convenient way to get your hands on fresh, organic vegetables, pastured meats and eggs and “Animal Welfare Approved” goat dairy products. 

Extreme Farm to Table: It’s what’s for dinner. I like to think that our “Dinners on the Farm” embody extreme “farm-to-table” dining. After all, you are literally dining on a working farm. Moreover, we source most of the ingredients featured on the menu from local farms in central Illinois. We even invite some of them to dine with our guests. Our collaboration with the chefs of Sunday Dinner Club-SDC (aka Honey Butter Fried Chicken)-Josh, Christine and Becca is going really well, with two months of meals under our belts. We have a few seats left for the July “Big Steak” brunch (dinner is sold out), but the hottest news is that the August-October meal tickets have just gone on sale through the SDC Events web page. 

SDC team

Check out the themes, menus and then click on the TOCK button to book your reservations. 

Lavender Fields are growing in Central IL: Twin Silos Farm is owned and operated by Terry and Terry Hayden. They will hold their "First Annual Lavender U-Pick" Festival on June 25-26 from 9-5 each day. The festival features 2000 lavender plants and 10 varieties for U-Pick ($5 small and $7 large bundles), a bee presentation Saturday at 2 p.m., and photo opportunities. They’ll be serving a special treat during the lavender festival:  "Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery  honey-lavender gelato” made with Twin Silos Farm's honey and lavender. Admission is free. The farm is located at 1090 Bucks Pond Road, Monticello, IL, just off of interstate 72, (take exit 172, IL 10/Clinton exit, head toward Clinton, left on 1100 E/Bucks Pond Road, third house on the right). If you are using your GPS, please put in Randy’s Road. The satellite coordinates see the farm driveway as Randy’s Road, Monticello, IL. Visit us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/TwinSilosFarm.MonticelloIL


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 6/16/2016 10:49pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

I have been taken with the local history that underlies our farm for some time.  Perhaps as an outsider and a city person, I am more intrigued by the rugged rural ancestors of my neighbors than my neighbors themselves (it’s just family stories to them, after all).  Up the road from our farm, across from the Leverett grain elevator, there once stood a stately stone building that housed a general store, over 100 years ago.  Having only seen general stores in the movies or on old western tv shows, I became fascinated with the idea of a general store in my “neighborhood.”

Before the property changed hands a few years ago, we got a chance to walk through this dilapidated building, looking for old relics, secretly hoping to score some farm implement that would garner attention on Antiques Road Show.  The bones of the building were still there; hidden under layers of dust, holes in the walls and cracks in the floors—the stone frame, the old-growth timbers, the ghosts of the store clerks and patrons creaking on the loose floor planks.  I imagined recreating a general store for the modern era.  What would it look like, what goods would it carry?  The idea of a general store focused on local foods and local crafts seemed especially poignant.  I became convinced (some say obsessed) this was a brilliant idea and that some clever, local entrepreneur (with deep pockets) would buy this little property (with a very charming, but falling down farm house and few ancient apple trees) and bring my vision to fruition. After all, it is less than two miles from both major interstates (I-57 and I-74). From time to time, I would mention this little “hidden gem” of a property to folks who I thought surely would jump at the idea and make it a reality. 

When the property finally sold, we met the new owners, and I was thrilled to discover that they saw value in the old general store and they were considering turning it into some kind of inn or dining establishment (or maybe it was a brew pub).  A year or so went by, and I discovered that the building had sustained a fire, leaving the south-facing front completely exposed (somehow the stone bricks had fallen off the face).  The charred state left me wondering how this would impact the new owners’ grand plans for renovation.  Nothing transpired for another few months, and then a couple of weeks ago, I was driving by (on my way to the Lavender Farm) and saw the building collapsed in a pile of rubble.  I know it seems silly to have developed feelings for this building (it never belonged to me or anyone I knew or cared about), but the sight of stones and wood and plaster in a jumbled mess shot pangs of sadness to my core.  The grief I feel comes from history obliterated and bull-dozed aside. Yet, I also feel sad that my dream of an old general store, reborn as new general store, highlighting the bounty our little flat region has to offer, got buried in the rubble pile. 

Other Farm News The density of fire flies is astounding this summer.  I don’t know if it’s the weather, our little farm’s habitat oasis or the alignment of the stars (they create their own starry sky), but we’re having a fire fly population explosion this year.  They’re lighting up the trees in the orchard, they’re hovering over our senescing wheat patch and they’re signaling for mates in the tall grasses of our pasture.  I feel privileged to witness it every evening.  I took a little video which captures some of the magic (check it out on our Facebook page); honestly, it doesn’t do them justice. 

The Real Stand: Farm Store at Prairie Fruits Farm: While my dream of an old general store reborn will not come to fruition, we are working away at getting our farm and store together for its “grand opening.” We are hoping to be open the first weekend in July. We may not have all the products stocked or the farm looking as grand as we’d like, but it should be close enough for folks to come out. Stay tuned for forthcoming details in the coming weeks.

Next round of farm dinner/brunch tickets to go on sale next week:   The August through October Farm to Table dinners and brunch tickets will go on sale next WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22ND AT 10:00 AM.  I will be posting the menus for these meals on our website and the link to Sunday Dinner Club’s TOCK page early next week.  In the meantime, we still have seats open for the July “Big Steak” brunch on Sunday, July 17th.  For you last-minute Charlie’s, there are still some seats left for this Saturday’s Mexican dinner.  It’s gonna be great, so grab the mouse to your computer and click away. 

CU Farmers: Our multi-farmer local food buying club is gaining traction slowly. We want to make sure folks who work and/or live in southwest Champaign know that they can consider this portal an alternative (or supplement) to shopping at the farmers’ markets or the grocery stores that might carry local foods (although right now, there aren’t any in southwest Champaign).  It’s an easy way to access the freshest, highest quality local foods (with integrity to boot) in our area.  We are working to improve the patron’s experience on our website and we may be moving our pick up location to a more prominent spot in the U of I Research Park (off First Street). We will let folks know about these changes as soon as they firm up. On line ordering for pick up next week (June 22nd) starts tomorrow at 8AM.  Check it out.

Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery is coming to the Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market: After a several-year hiatus, we’ve decided to return to the Saturday Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market. Our first Saturday will be June 25th. Our booth will be right next to PrairiErth Farm. Stay tuned for more details next week.

Farmers’ Markets for June 18th

We’re attending both Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market this coming Saturday, June 18th. It’s father’s day weekend, and you’re probably thinking that cheese is NOT the gift for the dads in your life. Well, think again! Many of our patrons are dads, and I know they have some favorites of our cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta
  • Angel Food
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie (lots of dads LOVE this cheese)
  • Black Goat (they love this one too)
  • Moonglo-some folks consider this complex firm cheese similar to cheddar or sharp gouda—both of which men seem to love
  • Magia Negra: we have limited quantities of this nutty grating style cheese, so if you want it, come early
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: lots of guys love the simplicity of our yogurt, especially guys who like to cook

If cheese isn’t your dad’s favorite food group, I know you can wow him with our goat milk gelato:

  • Tart cherry stracciatella
  • Buttered, spicy pecan
  • Local Strawberry
  • Aronia Berry
  • Honey Lavender
  • Plum Sorbetto
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut

We will also have our goat milk soaps for sale (yes, guys like to be clean too and even have soft smooth skin).   


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 6/9/2016 10:39pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News 

The juxtaposition of lavender and corn fields is jarring, especially if your mind is transported to Provence when conjuring lavender.  I think this is what draws me to this little patch of foreign-ness every June.  “Sharp’s Crossing Lavender Farm,” off Highway 45 in rural Urbana on the way to Rantoul, seems like such an unlikely place for a field of purple peacefulness.  It is surrounded by hard-core cash-grain agriculture and shadowed by a cell phone tower, no less.  Yet, when you walk out into the lavender plantings and crouch down low, you could swear that you are in a Mediterranean landscape familiar to the likes of Van Gough. 

lavender fields

The bees buy into the story; they are busy hovering from blossom to blossom, collecting nectar.  I like to bury my face in the mounds of flowers so I can surround my nose with the calming scent.  The whiz of cars passing by on the highway fades; eclipsed by the rustle of the stems in the prairie wind.  I take this annual journey partly for the spiritual elements it imparts, but I’m also on a mission -to collect lavender flowers for our lavender-honey gelato. 

The winter was kind to the lavender patch this year, and the plants have never looked better (at least in the few years that I have been going out there); the multitudes of stems are loaded with flower buds.  The farm owner is kind enough to let me pick before fans descend on the patch for her annual “Lavender Festival” (June 17-19th this year).  They will benefit from my early foraging; we are making pans of lavender-honey gelato for her to serve at the festival this year. 

CSA enticement, CU Farmers, Farm to Table Meals

Our Cheese and Gelato CSA members are enjoying the benefits of membership this year, as we are making “members only” cheeses for them. This week, we created a fresh chevre with a dollop of “ramp jam.” Made with ramps from Cow Creek Farm, this sweet-savory concoction pairs perfectly with the fresh chevre.  So, if you’re not currently a member of our cheese and gelato CSA, you might consider signing up. We are still taking members at a pro-rated level (10 pick-ups left for the season). 

ramp jam with chevre

CUFarmers: Our multi-farm buying club is underway and we WANT MORE MEMBERS!! If you work or live near the University of Illinois Research Park, this pre-ordering and pick up system is an easy way to get fresh organic veggies, pastured meat & poultry (and eggs) and Animal Welfare Approved cheese and gelato EVERY WEDNESDAY (4-6 PM).  Check out our website and sign up. Ordering for next week starts Friday morning at 8AM.

Last call for the Mexican Farm Dinner tickets: Saturday, June 18th! This meal is going to knock your socks off! With pastured pork from Bane Family Meats as the center piece and strawberry gelato to cleanse your pallet at the end, you won’t be disappointed.  We also have a few seats left for the “Big Steak” brunch on Sunday, July 17th.  Click HERE for details. 

A Farmer's Road is coming to Urbana. The Urbana Free Library is hosting a screening of the documentary film about our farm on Sunday, June 12th at 1:30 pm. We'll be sampling some cheese and gelato as part of the event. Come and meet the film-maker, John Murray, who spent five years filming and editing this feature-length documentary film. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings

We’re attending Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market on Saturday, June 11th. We will also be attending The Land Connection’s downtown Champaign Farmers’ Market on Tuesday, June 14th (4-7 pm). The forecast is calling for some heat, so come prepared to the market with coolers and ice packs (especially if you don’t want your gelato to melt before you get home). We have a full house of cheese offerings:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh ricotta Angel Food (very limited quantities)
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie
  • Black Goat
  • Magia Negra
  • Moonglo
  • Whole Milk Yogurt

We have fantastic new local flavors of gelato including:

  • Local Strawberry
  • Aronia Berry
  • Plum Sorbetto
  • Lavender-Honey
  • Fresh Mint
  • Salted Caramel Swirl

As well as the delicious standards:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut

We just got in a fresh batch of our goat milk soaps (made lovingly by Red Barn Farm), so if you’re feeling dirty, come pick up a few bars. Types include: Simply Soap, White Tea & Whey, Thyme for Roses, Spring Thyme, Prairie Lavender, Oatmeal Scrub, Crazy for Lemon.


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 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.