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Nocturnal jewels, a little rain, market offerings and farm happenings

Posted 7/27/2017 4:59pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

new header Farm News

I’m looking forward to our “Night of the Living Farm” event tonight with child-like enthusiasm.  Our amateur eyes have witnessed a few of the more obvious nocturnal creatures that inhabit our farm-fire flies, June bugs, a few moths that manage to get stuck on our sticky fly traps and lots and lots of toads that congregate outside the lit barn doors, waiting for a meal to drop from the dimly lit night sky.  We hear lots of sounds-trilling toad songs, katydid mating calls, coyote cries-- but there are so many mysteries I am hoping will be illuminated.

We did a diurnal walk about with our guest entomologists last week, and they were impressed with the day-time diversity of habitat and insects we saw.  They made educated guesses about what we might see at night, given our micro-ecosystems-gardens, orchard, prairie, riparian zone.  Along with our guests, we will don our headlamps and venture out into the night to see what we discover. 

The past week’s rain has reinvigorated the vegetation on the farm.  Brown has gone to green seemingly overnight. Our neatly weeded herb garden is once-again covered in weeds. The densely mulched vegetable patch has resistant thistle, pig weed and crab grass poking through.  Beneath the dry grass heads in the pasture, the succulent sprouts of forage alfalfa and tender shoots of orchard grass beckon the goats to graze again. 

Farmers’ Market News

We’re attending both Urbana’s Market at the Square AND Chicago’s Green City Market this Saturday, July 29th.  The forecast sounds absolutely perfect for market shopping (we may not even hit 80 degrees!!). The markets are bursting with summer produce, and, since everything tastes better with a little cheese on top, consider buying a couple of different PFFC cheeses to adorn your market bounty. 

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Raw-milk Feta: Packed in whey brine for flavor and preservation, this cheese is perfect for salads or roasted veggies
  • Angel Food: our little compact bloomy rind—firm paste, mushroomy rind
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated bloomy with a hint of yeast on the rind; don’t let the funky molds scare you away from tasting this cheese
  • Lena: a special bloomy rind cheese available at the Urbana market only (we made this for our CSA members, but we have a few extra); If Little Bloom and Black Goat had a baby, this would be their “love child”—ashed with a mushroomy rind-beautiful and delicious. 
  • 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 spring batches have a lighter, fruitier flavor profile than our rich & decadent fall batches.  The flavor is grassy and slightly tart. In addition to the picture perfect wedges, we are selling some discounted wedges that have some rind imperfections.  These are strictly cosmetic cracks that occurred when we had some temperature fluctuations in our aging room this spring.
  • Huckleberry Blue: We’re into the last couple of wheels of our raw-goats’-milk blue. This cheese is creamy, sweet & salty—once it’s gone, you won’t see it again until next spring.

Sorry, no crackers or yogurt this week.

Gelato is a must this time of year-try some and take home a pint from the markets:

  • Red Currant Sorbetto (tart and luscious)
  • Lemon Crème (made with juice and zest of Meyer lemons)
  • Fresh Mint
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Blueberry-Lemon Balm
  • Mexican Coffee (cinnamon and a hint of cayenne)  

Green City Market Flavors (pints only)

  • Maple Chevre: made with our goat cheese and “Sticky Pete’s” maple syrup from Athens OH
  • Red Currant Sorbetto
  • Honey Lavender
  • Fruitti di Bosco (mixed berries) and Yogurt  

Farm Happenings

Thursday, July 27th 8-10 PM “Night of the Living Farm” An Exploration of the Creatures of the Dark –TONIGHT!   Join entomologists Dr. Michael Jeffords and Susan Post for a unique exploration of the insects and other creatures that call Prairie Fruits Farm home. As the skies darken, Michael and Susan will give a short program on creatures of the night, followed by black-lighting to attract insects from the surrounding landscape. Insects from mayflies to moths are likely to make an appearance.

As soon as the sky is sufficiently dark, we will explore the surrounding forest and prairie with miniature spotlights to see and experience Arthropod activity seldom witnessed. Everything from giant wolf spiders to munching caterpillars to charming tree frogs will likely appear in our flashing beams. If you’re coming, we suggest you wear long pants, bring bug spray and a flashlight if you have one.

Cost is $10/per person and includes a brief farm tour and scoop of gelato. Please register through our Facebook Events page so we know how many people to expect.  

Farm Summer Hours  

Our week-day AND weekend hours are a great way to visit the farm when there aren’t lots of people here.  Take in the tranquility of the landscape and enjoy a scoop of gelato in the shade. Shop the Real Stand Farm store for cheese, meats, eggs, and gelato.  We have Babb Farms, sweet corn! It’s tender and sweet, and it’s grown just up the road from our farm. U-pick peaches are still on hold as we wait for the next varieties to ripen.

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.

Family Friendly Happy Hour on the FarmFriday August 4th 5-7 PM. 

We’re back in full swing with guest farmer Caveny Farm serving up lamb sliders and a side salad.  We will also welcome Riggs Brewery to the farm. They’ll be giving tastes and selling pints of their hefeweizen beer, brewed with 20% farm-ground barley!  You’ll be serenaded by the sounds of “The Sweedler Brothers,” a local trio who play jazzy-gypsy music.  Of course, we will have cheese, charcuterie, pickle plates and baguettes for “make-your-own” snacks, as well as Sarah’s addictive truffle-salt & yeast popcorn.  Finish the night with a scoop of gelato or a root beer float.  You can even come out and do some shopping-cheese, gelato, veggies grown at the farm by Deux Chevaux Farm (our incubator veggie growers). 

Farm Dinners

We still have seats available for both seatings of the Cubano Brunch on Sunday, August 13th and the Summer Vegetarian Dinner on Saturday, August 19th. 

Need some enticement for the brunch? The Cubano sandwich has become a signature dish for Executive Sous Chef, Becca Grothe of Sunday Dinner Cub. How does she do it? Local, pastured-heritage pork, Nueske's ham, Swiss-style cheese, house-made pickles, chipotle mayo, and mustard butter on a ciabatta panino. If that doesn’t sound decadent enough for you, we’ll add farm eggs to the sandwich to brunch it up. The cubano is served with a fresh tomato, melon, and mint salad. Aaaaand.... Rum Cake Doughnuts! This meal will sustain you for the rest of the day. Ticket price includes coffee (and even café Cubano), tea and a special house cocktail.    

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.