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Summertime resignation, market offerings, farm happenings

Posted 8/9/2018 9:34pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

By mid-August, the windows of opportunity to make drastic changes to the farm have started to close.  The waning days of summer are no time to shift course or add another enterprise on top of those in play.  No, this is the time of maintaining, of resigning oneself to let go of the possible and nurture the actual.

The heat and drying soils make late summer plantings of fall greens and carrots a challenge.  The lack of fruit set on the fava beans forebodes a paltry harvest. The invasion of Colorado potato beetles on our late-planted potatoes suggests fewer potatoes to be dug in a few weeks.  There’s a sense of urgency to harvest the crops at hand and preserve what we’ve got.  There are resignations to embrace the abundance of beets and pickling cucumbers and stop fretting over green tomatoes not turning colors. 

The lushness of the pasture is fleeting as well. We struggle to keep the does in front of high quality pasture and browse to keep their milk production from tanking. We become obsessed with giving them opportunities to keep their heads buried and their mouths munching.  Every quarter inch on the measuring stick in the bulk tank is either small victory or back set. 

goats in cottonwood stand

There’s a gradual shift in the mindset of managing the farm and the land in mid- August.  Farming overall is a constant tug of war between thinking you can manage everything to realizing you can manage only a few things, and sometimes the farm manages you.  Although the tropical breezes still blow, the days are imperceptibly shorter, and you know that peak of abundance has crested. It’s best to embrace it; give in to the change. 

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program:  

This week’s text club special relates to gelato. 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 –Try a “flight” of Moonglo cheese this weekend

This Saturday’s forecast for Urbana is warm and sunny. Come early to the market to get your weekly fare of locally-grown goodness and beat the crowds. The market is brimming with summer bounty-peaches, melons, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplants, berries, and lots of delicious goat dairy products from yours truly.  Feta is still on summer vacation, but will be back in the line-up next weekend.

We have gone a bit crazy with variations on Moonglo of late, so we’re offering a special deal on a flight. Buy ALL FOUR versions of Moonglo and get 20% off the total price. Here’s the cheese line up for Saturday:

Moonglo cheese flight

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Plain Goat Milk Yogurt: we have fresh supply of plain, whole-milk yogurt from Green Meadows Farm that we’re bringing to market. They have made a special batch for us that is just milk and live cultures (no thickeners). 
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is modestly ripe, with a slightly gooey edge along the rind.  Flavor is buttery, milky and slightly mushroomy.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this batch of Angel Food is aging nicely, with hints of cream and mushroom.  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 ripe, and it has a wonderful firm yet gooey consistency, a slight goat tang and a hint of yeastiness on the rind. 
  • Moonglo:  Our first spring milk batches of this raw milk tomme (sort of like a gouda, but not really) are making their debut at the market and in the farm store. The spring milk produces a lighter, tangy paste with hints of pineapple. The texture of the cheese is a bit more firm than fall milk batches.
  • Applewood Smoked Moonglo: our friends at Urbana’s Black Dog Smoke and Ale House cold-smoked our Moonglo cheese over Applewood chips; the result is a lovely smoky version of our Moonglo. Like our regular Moonglo, it makes a killer grilled cheese (that’s what Black Dog is doing with it at their Urbana location).
  • Chipotle Chile Rub Moonglo: fall-milk Moonglo wedges with top & bottom rinds removed and chipotle chile powder-olive oil rubbed onto the exterior of the cheese; slightly spicy, nice smoky finish. 
  • Malted Moonglo: how about a little beer in your cheese? We made an experimental wheel of Moonglo with beer added to the curds before they were pressed into the molds. The cheese has a slightly sweet, malty character.  We think it’s delicious.
  • Pelota Roja: our special (and very limited) Manchego-style goat cheese with guajillo chile rub on the rind. We have a few wedges of this cheese for retail as most it goes to the Frontera Grill-Topolobampa restaurants in Chicago.  Perfect grating-style cheeses, with nutty notes and gentle heat from the chile rub. 
  • 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).

Gelato:

We’ve been making lots of gelato and fruit-based sorbettos with all the great local ingredients we have available at this time. We also made a very special (and limited) batch of Pistachio gelato (pure Sicilian pistachio paste). This is a premium flavor @ $12/pint. I encourage you to bring a cooler with ice packs to the market to keep your gelato in tip top shape as you travel from the market to your home. Remember: $10/pint or 3 for $27 (except for pistachio).

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Buttered Pecan (made with Voss Orchard Pecans, Carlyle IL)
  • Blueberry-Chevre (made with blueberries from Pitcher-Patch Farm in Makanda IL)
  • Sicilian Pistachio Gelato
  • Fresh Mint
  • Peaches & Cream (made with our very own peaches from the PFFC orchard)
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (with nectarines from Mileur Orchard)
  • Peach Sorbetto (with peaches from PFFC orchard)
  • Apricot Sorbetto (made with Apricots from Klug Farm in MI)
  • Sweet Corn Gelato (made with Babb Farms’ sweet corn)

If you don’t know already: 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 beautiful this time of year—lush with plant and animal life alike. Come out after work to unwind.

During our open hours, you can savor a scoop of gelato or “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a stick of salami (Underground Meats) or a jar of jam from Autumn Berry Inspired or pickled veggies, grab some Lucky Pierre bagel chips or Central IL Bake-house baguette bread 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! Want to go the total sweet route? How about a root-beer float with a scoop of our gelato?

Need to de-stress? Come visit with the goats. They love to be petted, even in the warm weather.  Shop in our farm store: “The Real Stand.” We’ve got pasture-raised meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats, frozen artisan sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co., pickled veggies and pesto by Sarah (our former gelato maker), locally-grown and milled flours by The Mill at Janie’s Farm and much more. Back in the store this week:  goat milk yogurt by Green Meadows Farm and end of summer sweet corn from Babb Farm. 

U-PICK: U-picking is suspended until further notice.  We hope to have enough apples and maybe pears for u pick later in August. Peaches were just not that plentiful this year.

Farm Dinners: Fall season is not far away, and the September and October farm dinners are filling up fast.  I encourage you to book your tickets now. We have two versions of our 100 Yard Dinner this year: a progressive meal around the farm in mid-September and “Ploughman’s Feast” style meal in October; menus forthcoming.  We will be adding a couple of other special dinners this fall too (a beer dinner with Half Acre Brewery on October 6th for sure).

Upcoming Farm Events

Thursday, August 23rd, 5-7 pm “Wine tasting with Michael” Michael Darin, our resident wine guy, will be pouring some easy-drinking summer reds from our wine portfolio.  These reds are light and nuanced and pair well with our bloomy rind cheeses.  Some of the wines to be featured include: Lovegrass Shiraz (Australia), Argiolas Costera (Sardinia), Tarapaca Gran Reserva Organica (Chilean blended red) and Valle Real Montepuciano de Abruzzo (Italy). Michael is always informative and entertaining.  A good time will be had by all. Make a night of it and order a build-your-own cheese board while you’re here too. Please RSVP to our Facebook event so we know how many folks to expect:   https://www.facebook.com/events/235013683815265/

Back by Popular Demand (by ME!): Night of the Living Farm Tuesday, August 28th 7:30 or 8:00 pm start time (will depend on sunset) Join entomologists Dr. Michael Jeffords, Susan Post, and Dr. Joe Spencer from the Illinois Natural History Survey, for a unique exploration of the insects and other creatures that call Prairie Fruits Farm home. As the skies darken, Michael 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. We will charge a nominal fee of $10/person (includes a scoop of gelato).  We now have a registration page for this event on our website:   http://www.prairiefruits.com/store/special-events

CU Symphony Orchestra to perform special “environmental” pieces on our farm on Sunday September 23rd, 2-4 pm.

Visit Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery for a free gelato social and concert from 2:00 to 4:00 pm on Sunday, September 23 to celebrate Mother Earth's summer harvest! This tribute to our planet will feature musicians from the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra performing several earth-themed chamber works by CUSO Composer-in-Residence Stacy Garrop. PFFC owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband will bring us the latest news about their sustainability efforts on the farm. Take a tour of the farm, visit the goats, and participate in our "Messages to Gaia" community art project--where you can draw pictures, write poetry or simply share your thoughts about our planet. Come enjoy! This event is sponsored by CUSO, New Music USA, and Prairie Fruit Farms & Creamery.   


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.