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The ritual of "going to market," More "babies and brunch," last chance to sign up for CSA and other

Posted 5/3/2018 9:20pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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The farm’s rapid transformation from hibernation to vibrant spring is akin to witnessing time lapse photography.  The week’s 80 degree temps struck a match to the invisible gas that was bubbling just beneath the soil and whoosh; peach blossoms open overnight, trilling toads are singing and mating in the borrow pit pond like there’s no tomorrow, dandelions carpet the lawn in such profusion that there’s barely green between the mounds of yellow.   

The sidewalls have come off the Delight Flower Farm high tunnel, and the cacophony of tulips inside put the best blooming fields in Holland to shame.  Our last spring birth happened with little fanfare this morning. Maxine gave birth to triplets; we barely noticed them while scooping grain to the frantic goat girls during the morning chores.  It is safe to proclaim that spring is finally here!

So, we begin a well-worn ritual of bringing our wares to market. May 5th, “Cinco de Mayo,” marks the start of many farmers’ markets around the state this year.  For us, we return to the Urbana Farmers’ Market, the first market we attended back in 2005. Like migratory birds returning to the place of their birth to further the next generation, we farmers return to the outdoor stalls to hawk our wares and keep the patrons satiated with the bounty of the seasons. 

The idea of the farmers’ market is grounded in ancient traditions; farmers come to the cities from the countryside, hoping to convince the non-self-sufficient city dwellers to buy their products.  Modern farmers aren’t that different than their ancestors. We strive to produce the highest quality products, and we compete with fellow farmers to display them in eye-catching ways.  We develop bonds with our customers; we learn their favorite products and offer them proudly when we see those customers approach our stand. We offer tastes and descriptions, we tell stories from the farm; we strive to connect their food with the land.

Yet, in recent times, the modern farmer has had to expand his/her skill sets beyond the traditional roles of producing and bringing to market.  Most successful farmers have moved beyond just knowing how to grow crops, raise livestock, or, in our case, transforming milk into cheese.  We immerse ourselves in the latest digital tips for catching the attention of our customers: we use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as proxies for our beautiful market displays. We try to connect our customers to our farms with instant and every changing images of daily farm life.  We move between the old traditions and the modern digital imperatives. We weave these seemingly discordant threads together in the hopes of convincing our market patrons that the connection between farmer and consumer is unique and still worthwhile.


In our efforts to seek out better ways to keep our patrons up to date on the latest farm happenings, special product promotions and farmers’ market offerings, we are pleased to announce a new text message program.  You won’t get unwanted text messages from Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery. You simply send a text message to 30500 with one or more of the key words below, and we only send messages to those who want to receive them.  Think of this as a rewards program for our most loyal customers.

For general farm announcements, text GOAT to 30500
For special farmers’ market offers and promotions (Urbana’s Market at the Square patrons), text URBANA to 30500
For the latest news on farm to table meals, text TABLE to 30500
For CSA members, text CSA to 30500
For specials and events at the farm store, text FARMSTORE to 30500 

In celebration of spring and the first farmers’ market of the season, we are running a special promotion for farm fans who sign up for text messaging program. Either text URBANA to 30500 or GOAT to 30500, and a lucky winner will get a free container of chevre to be claimed at the following Saturday (May 12th) Urbana Market at the Square. 

FUNDRAISER A HUGE SUCCESS! Our “Raise the Roof” fundraiser campaign has ended, and we are so grateful to all of you who donated. We raised a little over $25,000! We will definitely be able to put the roof on our pavilion and tackle one or two of the other projects on our wish list. Over the next few weeks, we will be contacting those of you who donated at the different levels with details about your “thank you gifts.” Again, the community support was tremendous and we thank all of you!

BABIES AND BRUNCH: Full Brunch on BOTH Saturdays and Sundays is HERE FOR ONLY TWO MORE WEEKENDS! Come out to the farm this weekend, May 5th and 6th—we’re open from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm both days.  Check out this weekend’s NEW menu that Chef Raquel and Sarah of Feast Catering have crafted as well as the details of how these brunches are run. 

Here’s how the farm “Pop-Up Café” works: we seat you at a table, you order your food and you enjoy a more substantial brunch. If you have to wait for a table (so far, people have only had to wait 5-10 minutes), you can visit with the goats, sample our cheese and gelato and/or shop in our farm store. Many of our long-time customers LOVE the new system.  NO MORE LONG LINES!!

Cheese and Gelato Offerings We are back at the farmers’ market this Saturday, May 5th, and we’ll also have a limited selection of cheese and gelato for sale in the farm store during “Babies and Breakfast.” We have a full house of bloomy rind cheeses to offer you this weekend—angel food, little bloom and black goat are in the line- up as well as our creamy & tangy chevre.

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—the lemony flavor of spring chevre is a perfect foil for slightly bitter spring leafy green vegetables—try sautéing some fresh spinach or kale and finish with a drizzle of really good olive oil and a few dollops of our chevre.  Need to be convinced that our chevre has made a mark on the national cheese stage? Check out this article in Cheese Connoisseur Magazine.  Want some inspiration of how best to use our chevre? Here is a link to 25 goat cheese recipes from Bon Appetit Magazine: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/goat-cheese-recipes
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: We have some nice gooey ripe rounds as well as young rounds this week.  Serve with local honey or one of the jams in our farm store. Try warming the round lightly in your oven and serve with a quick pickle of ramps or beets for an even more amazing flavor explosion in your mouth.
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; the paste is firm and slightly tart, while the rind is soft and fluffy.  Enjoy with a fruity balsamic reduction
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. The rounds are unctuous and fudgy. 
  • 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.
  • 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: We have pints of gelato available this weekend for sale at the market and at the farm store—vanilla, chocolate, fresh and salted caramel swirl. We will also be scooping gelato during “Babies and Brunch.”

Jams and Honey: In the farm store only: We have a limited selection of jams from Autumn Berry Inspired, house-made jams and some beautiful bottles of fall honey from Two Million Blooms. These make great accompaniments to our cheeses.

Other Farm Products at the Farm Store Goat milk yogurt from Green Meadows Farm  Our friend, Meryl Kauffman, in Arthur, IL raises mostly La Mancha goats (some of whom came from our herd). His goat milk products are delicious, and we're excited to carry his plain goat milk yogurt in quart size only. He has made a special batch for us that is JUST goat milk and live cultures (no added thickeners). Come try some this weekend. I will bring some to market as well as have it available in our farm store.

Bane Family Meats has farm-fresh eggs, chicken, beef, pork and lamb products.

We also have a selection of Piemonte Sausages: several styles of pork sausage as well as our goat merguez

Goat Stew Meat and Cabrito Halves—we have a few packages of lean and tender goat meat available in our farm shop freezer. If you’ve never tried goat meat, you should. It’s very mild and lean (lends itself to slow cooking techniques)

Locally milled flour from the Mill at Janie’s Farm (Ashkum, IL)-did you know you can now get organic, locally milled, specialty grain flours? We are proud to be one of the first retail outlets for this amazing product. Make a pie or a quiche this weekend with this whole-grain flour. It’s amazing.

Prairie Fruits Farm Merch: While you’re here, take home a memento from the farm—t-shirts, hooded sweat shirts, batik aprons, tea towels, onesies, note cards, cheese boards and goat milk soaps. 

Cheese and Gelato CSA:  The deadline for sign up is SATURDAY May 5th, so if you’ve been on the fence, act now.  If you’re not familiar with how our “CSA” works, I encourage you to check out the details.  We have pick up locations in Champaign Urbana and Bloomington-Normal.  We treat our CSA members like royalty. Come join our special club. 

Special Cheese Dinner at Eataly—we’re teaming up the cheese and culinary folks at Eataly-Chicago to offer a very special, slow-food dinner featuring our cheese on Thursday, May 24th. The event will be part class-part meal.  Check out the details: https://www.eataly.com/us_en/classes-and-events/chicago/farm-to-fork-a-slow-food-dinner-featuring-prairie-fruits-farm-creamery-2018-05-24-4337

Dinners on the Farm: Our 2018 season is posted on our website and ticket sales are LIVE for the entire season.  Take a look at the dates and themes, and book your reservations NOW.  These tickets go fast, so don’t delay.   We’re excited to host you on our farm for a memorable farm to table experience.   

Looking for a goat for a family milker? 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 also have bucklings and wethers for grazing/brush control and companion animal needs. Check out what's available 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.