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Pilgrims, Farmers and Survival, Holiday Markets and Re-opening of "The Real Stand"

Posted 11/16/2017 8:18pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

As we approach the holiday of Thanksgiving, I have been thinking about the mythology around the pilgrims, their struggles to survive in a strange new land and their triumphant harvest feast. They arrived to the shores of the new world, buoyed by their ideology, but sorely lacking in basic survival skills.  In reality, if not for the generosity and sympathy of the native peoples, the ill-equipped, pilgrim “city slickers” would have perished, and the holiday we know as “Thanksgiving” would not have become such a defining American tradition. 

The steepness of their learning curve, albeit with much starker life-or-death consequences, reminds me somewhat of my own path from urban academic to mostly self-sufficient farmer, living and eating pretty close to the land. I came to farming flush with my own ideologies but lacking much experience (save for a few home vegetable gardens).  I was very good at preaching the gospel of sustainable agriculture to other farmers, but I had never tried to walk the path of my own advice. 

Our early days as a goat farmers were full of tension and naiveté.  Our inexperience was so grave that we didn’t even realize that two of our does were pregnant until one of them gave birth to a baby buckling the Monday after Thanksgiving.  While local grocery stores and farmers’ markets had my back as I learned from novice farmer failures, I felt a deep and humbling appreciation of eating foods I helped to grow or raise with my own hands. 

Nowadays, not only do we grow and raise a lot of our own food, we have forged relationships with like-minded farmers, making it easy to prepare a true feast from foods grown in our farming “backyard.”  We now have our own “thanksgiving” traditions: grilling a Bane-Family Meats pasture-raised turkey on our wood fired-grill, preparing delicious organic veggies from our farmer friends at Blue Moon Farm, scoring local mushrooms and heirloom cornmeal for the stuffing, toasting southern IL pecans for the pecan pie and using our very own chevre for the pumpkin cheesecake.   

We celebrate our connection to the land and to the other farmers who share our ideals for meaningful stewardship.  Eating close to the ground has become easy for us, second nature.  With so many amazing dedicated farmers growing beautiful foods for your holiday tables, it is easy for non-farmers to eat close to their own ground too.   Happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday Market News

Saturday, November 18th, we will be attending Urbana’s Market in the Square from 8AM to 1 PM. This is THE big pre-Thanksgiving Holiday market, and it’s the best time to get almost everything you need for your festive meal—veggies, a local turkey (especially if you pre-ordered), fruits, sweets and of course, our cheese and gelato.

We’ve made a special chevre flavor the holiday: a fresh chevre with pickled Barcelona pepper sauce. We grew these prolific peppers (slight heat, but really pretty mild) and Sarah (our gelato maker) fermented them with salt and the pureed them into a lovely sauce. The consistency reminds me of a chimichurri if you’re familiar with that Argentine accompaniment.  Sarah is also making our famous spiced pecans (with Voss Orchard Pecans, Carlyle IL) to accompany all of our cheeses on your holiday cheese board.

Here’s the line for Saturday:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper, chevre with pickled pepper sauce
  • 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 (VERY LIMITED AVAILABILITY)
  • Angel Food:  our little “crottin” style bloomy rind; small enough to eat in one sitting; great warmed with a drizzle of honey; perfect for your holiday cheese board.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert; the final batch of the season is firm and fudgy but quite tasty
  • 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
  • Pelota Roja: similar in style to Magia Negra, this firm, sharp grating style cheese is aged with a guajillo chile paste rub. While we make this cheese exclusively for Chef Rick Bayless’ restaurants in Chicago, we held back a couple of wheels to offer our local customers during the holiday season. LIMITED AVAILABILITY—COME EARLY
  • Moonglo: our raw-milk tomme-style cheese, aged for about 4 months.  Semi-firm texture, fruity and sharp flavor notes.  We’re using it in a sweet potato gratin for our thanksgiving holiday meal.

Gelato Pint Flavors: Our gelato flavors are the perfect accompaniment to your pies and other holiday desserts! Buy three pints and get a discount: 

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel
  • Masala Chai Tea
  • Fruitti di Bosco (mixed berry)
  • Local Ginger
  • Peaches & Cream
  • Hazelnut
  • Turtle
  • Lemon Verbena  

Farm Happenings-The Real Stand

Our farm store reopens on Sunday, November 19th, 1-4 pm. You can pick up pre-ordered pasture-raised turkeys from Bane Family Meats and grab any last minute needs for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  David Bane has informed me that his turkeys are now sold out.  We’ll have cheese, gelato, lots of pickled veggies, jams, eggs, etc.  

You’ll also get to peruse our holiday farm store, now flush with unique gifts from several local artisans. We have LOTS of new PFFC “merch” to show you!! 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-mostly in December.

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 will also be open Sunday, November 26, 1-4 pm (but no goat photo booth) in case you can’t make it on Saturday.

Thereafter, The Real Stand will be open Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm through December 17th.  We will also be open the evenings (5-7 pm) before the Delight Flower Farm Wreath Making Workshops: December 7th and 13th.   

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.