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Adding value on the farm, market offerings, farm happenings

Posted 7/12/2018 10:36pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

The little savannah to the north of our log house has a fair number of dead or dying trees in it. Some died from old age; others succumbed to frequent standing water.  The birds had taken advantage of the rotting trunks and limbs for some time now; feasting on the insect larvae that hide beneath the flaking bark, and making nests in the hollowed out cavities.  As much as we have loved providing habitat for mostly vagrant starlings, cow birds and house sparrows (not really), we finally decided to cut these dead trees down.

In the past, the highest use for dead trees on our property has been fire wood. This year, with a number of the deceased being cherry, walnut and maple, we decided to hire in a professional sawyer, a guy with a cowboy hat who comes to the farm with a portable saw mill.  He showed up bright and early on one of the hottest days of the week, and set up his mill in short order. Erica hauled the logs to the mill deftly with the skid steer, while Wes and Erica’s dad (he had to get in on the latest crazy scheme at Prairie Fruits Farm) help to hoist the logs on the feeder belt of the mill. 

The sawyer, operating the levers as if they were his hands, maneuvered the log with enviable dexterity to position the saw blade to cut exactly how he wanted it.  He first had to trim off the limb knobs off the main trunk so the log would be level.  Then, he would flip the log onto the flat side so he could cut the planks into perfect slabs.  By mid-afternoon, we had a wagon-full of beautifully grained and somewhat oddly shaped planks of wood. 

Erica manning the skid steer

Erica manning the skid steer with logs

loading the log onto the saw mill

loading the log onto the saw mill

beautiful planks

We’ve grown or raised a lot of quirky things over the years at Prairie Fruits Farm; josta-berries, marion berries, wheat, guinea fowl and Muscovy ducks to name a few. Here on the prairie, while I’ve treasured our little shaded haven of savannah, I never would have dreamed that we would derive another product from it.  We can now add timber to our repertoire.  I can’t wait to see the beautiful grains in the wood when we slather on some mineral oil. 

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  This week’s market special involves gelato. To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings –Cheese is an easy meal in the hot weather

I know that many folks are reluctant to cook elaborate meals in the heat of summer. That’s why I recommend a simple meal of cheese and accompaniments. The beauty of this approach is that you can mix and match cheeses with assorted jams, honeys, salamis, hams, pickled or raw veggies and fresh fruit.  Add your favorite beer, wine or iced tea, and your meal is complete.  Most of our cheeses work well with a simple salad too—fresh greens or an heirloom tomato medley. 

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—so versatile, so delicious. Put it on or in everything you can find from the market this weekend.
  • Goat Milk Feta: Summer is “feta season!” We are now making our feta with pasteurized milk. It’s still aged in whey brine, imparting all the wonderful complex flavors you’ve come to expect from our feta. With the arrival of the first sweet corn, creamy-crumbly feta is in order. I make a chipotle mayo, slather that on my roasted sweet corn, crumble some feta, roll the cob in the cheese and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Trust me!
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is perfectly ripe, bordering on gooey this weekend.  Try grilling it for a few minutes. Then, serve with a local honey or a tart jam.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is very young.  It could be sliced into rounds, lightly breaded and pan-fried for topping a bed of fresh greens.
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is ripening nicely, and it has a sublime fudgy consistency, a slight goat tang and a hint of yeastiness on the rind.  Try pairing with spicy dry-cured salami or a local honey.
  • Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try it on crusty bread with onion jam or caramelized onions. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese.
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination). This cheese is ONLY available directly from us—no wholesale buyers have this cheese right now.
  • INTRODUCING a new cheese: “Blushing Goat” This little washed rind cheese is bathed in wash of kombucha beer for a little over one month.  The result is a vibrant rind, slightly sweet & salty paste with a hint of beer on the finish.  Try a slice on a baguette drizzled with honey OR a perfectly sliced heirloom tomato drizzled with olive oil. 

Gelato: We’re flush with gelato this week.  I encourage you to bring a cooler with ice packs to the market to keep your gelato in tip top shape as you travel from the market to your home.

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Mint
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Buttered Pecan (made with Voss Orchard Pecans)
  • Thai Basil
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (with nectarines from Milleur Orchard)

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

Now through the end of August, we are open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a salami (Underground Meats) or jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips and we’ll provide the board.

You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese! We have lots of shades spots to get you out of the hot sun.  Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato?

Need to de-stress? Come visit with the goats. They love to be petted, even in the warm weather.  Shop in our farm store “The Real Stand.” We’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co., pickled veggies and pestos by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more. 

NEW in the Store! Fresh sweet corn from Babb Farms. Their corn is tender and sweet, and ready for your grill or stock pot. As I mentioned in my description of feta above—this combo is a MUST!

grilled sweet corn

Our peaches are finally starting to color, so U-pick is not too far off. Stay tuned.

Upcoming Events at the Farm

Saturday July 14th, 5-7 pm Delight Flower Farm Open House and Guided Tours  Delight Flower Farm rents land from us, and they are opening their space up to show folks all the beautiful flowers they are growing.  Reservations required. We are keeping our farm store open that night so visitors can shop in our farm store or grab a cheese board and a glass of wine or beer.

Farm Dinners

There are still plenty of seats for our “Southern Style Seafood Boil” and our “Summer Vegetarian” farm dinners.  The menus are posted on our website, so I encourage you to book your tickets now, before they sell out. To sweeten the pot (the boiling pot that is), we're teaming up with Moon Grove Farm (a new farm B&B) to offer out-of-town guests special rates for the July 21st Farm Dinner. Check out their deals. The farm is gorgeous in the summer, there usually is a breeze and it’s a magical place to enjoy a hyper-local farm-to-table meal.   


Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. 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.