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Summer Solstice, Growing a Milkweed Forest, Market Offerings and More

Posted 6/21/2018 9:52pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Today is the vernal equinox, the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.  Our skies have been prematurely darkened by waves of water-laden thunder clouds. Their billowy blackness could easily be confused with mountain peaks if it weren’t for the fact that you can see the storms rolling in from miles away. 

We need the rain, some of it anyway.  The recent deluges have fueled an explosion of growth in the garden. Everything is germinating or flowering or setting fruit. We already have baby peppers and green tomatoes.

I’ve let the native milkweeds take hold in the herb garden these past couple of years, and this year they have become a little “milkweed forest.”  Their strong thick stems tower toward the sun, supporting audacious pink flower clusters. Their scent is intoxicating, attracting a gaudy band of insects, dappled in alerting oranges and reds to signal the toxic brew coursing through their bodies. 

The milkweed forest beckons the female monarch butterflies. We have watched them circle the patch, taking stock of the quality of the leaves.  Signaling their approval, they flutter and hover around the leaves’ undersides, in search of the perfect spot to lay their eggs.  Soon, there will be baby monarch caterpillars taking bites out of our milkweed forest. I will allow them to selectively harvest the forest so they will grow. Eventually they will spin their chrysalises to become the butterflies that will migrate south. Their offspring, in turn, will return to our farm, to our little milkweed forest, to repeat the cycle and perpetuate their ties to our prairie landscape.

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  

This week’s market special involves black goat and beer.  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

All three bloomies-Angel Food, little bloom on the prairie and black goat-- are plentiful and slightly young this week. Try some of our feta or fresh chevre on a market greens salad this week or grab some of our discounted Moonglo wedges.

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—so versatile, so delicious. Put it on 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 salad season upon us (and soon the arrival of sweet corn), creamy-crumbly feta is in order.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is young but headed in a very good direction.  Try warming it slightly in the oven or over the grill for 5-10 minutes. Then, serve with a local honey or a tart jam.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this new batch of Angel Food is firm and tangy.  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 young, ripening nicely, and it has a sublime fudgy consistency and a hint of yeastiness on the rind.  Try pairing with spicy dry-cured salami.
  • 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. Again this week, we have a batch with soft rinds, so we’re running a special--$5/lb. off the regular price.  Ask for a taste—all you have to do is cut off the rind, and enjoy the delicious cheese within.
  • 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.

Gelato:  Gelato pints are limited this week, but we will be back in full force the weekend before July 4th.  For now, here’s what we have:

  • Vanilla (very limited)
  • Chocolate (limited)
  • Stracciatella (chocolate ganache “chip”-very limited)
  • Cucumber-Lime-Mint Sorbetto
  • Fresh Lemon Sorbetto

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 “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a salami or jar of jam 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! NOTE: This Friday, June 22nd, we will be closing early (6:00 pm) because we have a private event at the farm. 

If you just want to come out to do a little shopping in farm store, we’ll have cheese and scoops of gelato as well as other farmer products: locally milled whole wheat flour from The Mill at Janie’s Farm, meats, poultry eggs from Bane Family Meats, Piemonte Sausages and Jams from Autumn Berry Inspired and Prairie Fruits Farm “merch.” Check out the new products by Sarah Stewart (our former gelato maker); pickled ramps, pickled shitake mushrooms, fermented green garlic in brine and spring pestos (green garlic-pistachio and wild ramp). 

Mark your calendars for our next summer “Wine Tasting with Michael” event—Thursday, July 12th, 5-7 pm. Michael will be pouring a few featured wines from our portfolio of organic and biodynamic wines. We’ll feature a lovely white and a rose from Sardinia as well as a few lighter reds that pair well with our bloomy rind cheeses.

Dinners on the Farm: Our 2018 season is underway. Summer is a great time to enjoy dining outside at the farm, especially under our new timber-frame pavilion. We have some fantastic themes for summer “A Southern Style Seafood Boil,” “A Cheesy Affair” (with guest chef from Pastoral Appellation Wine Bar) and “Summer Vegetarian” (with guest chef Dan Compton of Vie Restaurant). Hurry; tickets are going fast.

Plan a get-away weekend in Central IL this summer: If you’re thinking about coming to one of our farm dinners this summer (or fall for that matter), and you’re coming from far away, why not make a weekend of it? We are partnering with Moon Grove Farm, a new farm B&B located in Mahomet (only 20-25 minutes’ drive west of our farm) to offer a special package deal. Stay tuned for details. 

Do you dream of having goats in your life?  Do you want a family milk goat? How about for brush control or rural pet? Goats are wonderful working animals and affectionate companions too. We have great breeding stock with excellent health and milk records.  We have several does that are bred and due to kid in mid-July as well as a couple of milkers. We also have retired does, bucklings and wethers for grazing/brush control and companion animal needs. Check out what's available (see pictures on our Facebook page) and contact us if interested. 

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.