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Gettin' to planting, bowls of cherries and traveling goats (and other news too)

Posted 6/1/2017 6:55pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

These are the days we’ve been waiting for-intense sun, crisp air, light winds-days that dry soil to just the right consistency for planting.  Rey and Taidghin, the farm’s “gardeners” this year, have taken to tilling, mixing in compost, bed shaping, irrigation installing, weed barrier covering and now planting the vegetable garden beds this week.  From dawn to dusk, they have methodically transformed a weed patch into a garden that would be the envy of Martha Stewart.  Our herb garden and personal garden plot are looking quite forlorn in comparison; perhaps tomorrow will be the day I find time to get a few plants of my own in the ground. 

We planted cherry trees when we bought our farm, now over 13 years ago.  Cherry trees are heart breakers.  The trees grow strong and robust, each spring pushing out a pink mat of flowers and then a dark green canopy of leaves.  We waited, year after year, and watched patiently, with not a single fruit to reward our endurance.  Last year, they finally decided to turn those flowers into fruits, only to watch them fall to the ground in June, covered in brown rot. 

cherries

This past Monday, as I toiled in the creamery making yogurt, Wes spied some beautiful red globes on our Montmorency cherry tree. He grabbed a ladder, strapped a pail on his belt and went to work picking cherries (it’s hard to take the fruit picker out of Wes—it’s in his blood).  Not a blemish in sight (ok I did find one little worm when I was washing them), their iridescent red reminiscent of a ruby-throated hummingbird’s neck.  By the time I was finished with yogurt making, he had two pails full sitting on our kitchen table.  Their beauty inspired me to pull the cherry pitter out of the drawer, pit the whole lot of them and turn them into a cherry crisp; edible perfection.

Tomorrow, we bid farewell to 48 doelings.  Erica, our herd manager, will be transporting them east to Vermont to start a new life as milking does in a large commercial herd that provides milk to Vermont Creamery.  We’ll follow her journey with a bit of nervousness and a lot of pride.  Our little girls have been selected because of their great genetics and because of the care and attention we give them and their mothers.  Stay tuned for some stories about the journey in next week’s post. 

Farmers’ Markets This week, we’re attending both the Urbana Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Our repertoire of cheeses is growing a bit this week with the introduction of spring raw-milk feta (Urbana market only this week; sorry GCM folks).

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—light, fluffy, lemony, YUM! (If you get the market early, you might score some of our special chevre with ramp pesto-we made these for our CSA members, but we have a few extra)
  • Fresh Ricotta: this delicate, mild and slightly sweet cheese is the essence of spring. 
  • Raw-milk Feta: YES, it’s back. Our first spring batches are finally ready for prime time.  Packed in a whey brine for flavor and preservation, this cheese is perfect for summer salads, grilled veggies and home-made pizzas!
  • Angel Food: our little compact bloomy rind—firm paste; great with some homemade rhubarb jam
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert. Our favorite chefs love to put this cheese on the grill to give it a light smoke. OMG
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated bloomy with a hint of yeast on the rind; it is perfect on a baguette with a drizzle of local honey. This current batch is young but quite tasty
  • Moonglo: these raw-milk tomme wedges are the last of the late fall-milk batches. Get ‘em while they last
  • Little Red: raw cow-milk, grating style with a smoked paprika rub. It is a perfect substitute for any grating cheese—use in a pesto, grate it over pasta or roasted veggies. 
  • Huckleberry Blue: the last of the raw-goat-milk blue made last December. This cheese is creamy, sweet & salty—the most flavorful blue in central IL. Give it a try.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: plain, whole milk, available in pints or quarts. I eat this every morning for breakfast (my version of breakfast of farmer champions); only available at the markets and on the farm.

This is GELATO weather, so we’ve got you covered this week. Here’s the line- up of flavors by the pint (* are the Green City Market Flavors):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Fresh Mint*
  • Lemon Balm*
  • Fruitti di Bosco & Yogurt (very limited this week, and at Urbana only)
  • Salted Caramel Swirl*
  • Rhubarb Swirl*
  • Mexican Coffee (coffee with cinnamon and kick of cayenne)-also very limited

Farm Happenings

Farm Summer Hours: Summer hours are low key and a great way to see the farm transform as veggies, fruits and flowers start to grow.  We are open for you to purchase cheese, gelato (pints and single servings both), local farm products and PFFC “merch.”  From time to time, we’ll have special things to see and do (special gelato flavors or u-pick fruits for example).  For now, open hours are:

  • Wednesdays, 3-6 PM
  • Fridays, 11 AM to 6 PM
  • Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 PM

Don't forget to follow directions to the farm from our website. This will ensure easy travels during the road construction on N. Lincoln Avenue.

Friday, June 9th is our second Friday Happy Hour at the Farm (5-7 PM).  Come out to enjoy a summer evening at the farm-bring yourself or your whole family. NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. We’ll have local microbrews available as well as wines by the bottle or glass (all of our wines are either organic or biodynamic and our prices are VERY reasonable).  For the non-alcohol drinkers, we’ll have Homer Sodas available and iced tea.

Grab some cheese, a wedge of Pekara Bakery baguette, charcuterie from Smoking Goose, a jar of Autumn Berry Jam and farm-made treats (pickled asparagus, ramps and mushrooms anyone?) and you’ve got some delicious local food snacks to accompany your beverages.  Sarah will be making her highly addictive popcorn made with Serverson Farm organic popcorn, nutritional yeast and truffle salt.  Farmer David Bane will be back with wood-fire roasted chicken from Bane Family Meats.

The Young and the Fretless (an old timey, Americana band) will spin some tunes too.  Guests can stroll around the farm, or just hang out on our lovely stone patio and watch the sun go down.  Of course, you can visit with the goats too. 

CU Farmers Resumes with two outdoor pick up locations weekly-ordering opens tomorrow (6/3 at 8:00 AM) Blue Moon Farm, Bane Family Meats and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery are teaming up again to offer the CU Community an online farmers’ market.  If you can’t make it to the markets on Saturday, or you just don’t want to fight the crowds, consider CU Farmers.  It is simple, convenient and comprehensive (veggies, meats, eggs, cheese and gelato).  You won’t find a better deal on some of the highest quality local foods around. Here’s how it works:

1)  Go to the website and set up an account

2) Order products from Friday (8AM) through the following Monday (10 PM). Select your pick up location (one in Champaign, one in Urbana) before you check out.  Pay online with a credit card.

3) Farmers fulfill your orders and bring them to two pick up locations on Wednesdays for you to pick up (5-6 PM for both locations)

4) Pick up locations are either Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign on Prospect Avenue OR the east parking lot of Lincoln Square Mall in front of Common Ground Food Co-op.   

Farm Dinner Updates Summer is the perfect time for lighter fare. We have some fantastic casual meals planned for July and August—burgers, fish fry, summer vegetarian—check them out and make your reservations now before they sell out too!   


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.