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Everybody asks for something, opening of new road, market moves indoors, and upcoming farm happening

Posted 11/10/2017 12:16pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News (off the farm)

A bunch of farmers went to Washington (DC) this week. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) invited farmers from states around the nation to “fly in” for less than 24 hours and meet with our states’ representatives in the congress and senate to discuss issues related to the 2018 Farm Bill.  Many would consider us atypical farmers: goat dairy and micro-cow dairy farmers, organic fruit and vegetable farmers, specialty grain farmers and beekeepers.  Our voice and influence in policy matters that shape the farm bill are more like a whisper in a hurricane than a fog-horn in a sea storm.  Most of us are not direct beneficiaries of the federal programs that comprise the farm bill, yet all of us care deeply about land stewardship, rebuilding rural communities and providing safe and healthy food to our citizens. 

After landing at the airport, we were whisked away to the NSAC office to review the policy issues and practice how to converse with congress folks and their staffers.  The dance of influence and policy making is quite prescribed.  There are patterns of expectation: superficial pleasantries, telling our farm stories and, in conclusion, “the ask.”  Our “asks” are relative droplets of water in a sea of programs that keep our current agricultural system a float—funds for conservation, funds for research in sustainable agriculture, funds to promote farmers’ markets and access to fresh, local foods.  It is easy to advocate for these things because they seem so fundamental to the way all of us farm.  Nonetheless, we are told that our point of view is not frequently told.

The next day, it is off to the races, with back-to-back meetings scheduled with several House representatives and Senate staffers.  We farmers are dressed in what we consider our “important meeting” finest.  Yet, even our attire sets us apart: “fancy farm flannel” in a sea of “suits.” As we walk the halls of congress, there is a constant stream of constituents coming and going.   I am impressed with the number of people who come to Washington to ask for something.  For some members of congress, we are there to remind them that we are their constituents too (as well as the farmers represented by large trade or commodity organizations); we are there to interject our little voices into the constant chatter from the big Ag boys and their lobbyists.  For others, we are there to applaud the good work they are already doing on our behalf, and encourage them to put a little more in the kitty of sustainable agriculture.  The day passes quickly. 

The stories and the “ask” pitches become refined as the meetings progress.  I confess that the attempts to influence can be heady; especially when it seems that the folks on the other side of the table take notes and actually look you in the eye.  Our confidence builds.  It becomes easy to believe we are more like actors in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (naïve and hopeful) than those in “Thank you for Smoking” (scheming and cynical).   The day comes to a close, the sun sets over the Potomac and we get on our planes to head back to the chores awaiting us back home. 

Road Open—So easy to get to Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery

After several years of construction upheaval, the Olympian Drive-Lincoln Avenue road project is now completed.  Local politicians cut the ribbon on Monday, opening the southern intersection of Olympian Drive and North Lincoln Ave.  It is NOW VERY easy to get to our farm from all directions. HOORAY!!

Market News

While the outdoor market season has come to a close (just in time with the frigid temperatures we’re experiencing), farmers’ market season is NOT finished.  Au contraire, there are still lots of great products to be had—fresh veggies, meats, eggs and our contribution—cheese AND gelato.   We will be attending Urbana’s Market in the Square tomorrow (11/11) from 8AM to 1 PM:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Raw milk feta: the last batch of the season; our feta is tangy and crumbly; packed in a whey-brine, it lasts a really long time in your fridge
  • Angel Food:  our little “crottin” style bloomy rind; small enough to eat in one sitting; great warmed with a drizzle of honey.  I’d buy two if I were you.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert; the final batch of the season is young and firm, but should soften up with some aging
  • Magia Negra: our nod to a Manchego style cheese, sharp nutty notes with hints of tart berries. Rind is rubbed with an olive oil-black currant & aronia berry paste
  • Moonglo: our raw-milk tomme-style cheese, aged for about 4 months.  Semi-firm texture, fruity and sharp flavor notes.  Perfect with sliced apples.

Gelato Pint Flavors: At the farm or at the market, take advantage of our “three pint special”: buy 3, get $3 off the total price! 

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel
  • Masala Chai Tea
  • Fruitti di Bosco
  • Local Ginger
  • Hazelnut
  • Turtle
  • Lemon Verbena  

Farm Happenings

Our farm store, The Real Stand, is temporarily closed as we get ready for the holiday season. We will reopen on Sunday, November 19th, 1-4 pm. You can pick up pre-ordered pasture-raised turkeys from Bane Family Meats and pick up any last minute needs for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  The turkey size range will be from 12-25 lbs., and the price is $4.00/lb. Orders will be taken by phone (217-722-2188) or by email (davidpbane@aol.com) until they are sold out. 

Our “grand” launch of our seasonal holiday market will be Saturday, November 25th, 1-4 pm. The goat photo booth returns (yes, we dress up some of our goats in holiday attire, and yes, you can take your holiday pictures with them) as well as fresh doughnuts from Lucky Pierre Bakers.  We’re super excited about the local artisans’ fare that will be represented in the Real Stand this season.  Delight Flower Farm will be taking reservations for their holiday wreaths, and they’re hosting a few wreath making workshops at the farm as well.  Stay tuned for more details next week. 

Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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.