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What does it mean to be an incubator farmer?

Posted 8/28/2014 6:23pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

We’re throwing a party for our “incubator farmer,” Shea Belahi, tonight to help her raise money to attend the Slow Food Terra Madre in Turin, Italy this fall.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of an incubator and how the term has come to be associated with start-up businesses. Before the business world decided to co-opt this word, it had deeper and softer connotations:  keeping things warm; protecting young creatures from the elements and from the dangers of the big bad world of grown-ups; providing care and nurturing to ensure success in the future.  In the business world, incubators typically are cold, hard spaces that fledgling businesses can rent to test out their business concept before investing gobs of money in infrastructure. 

So, how does the concept of an “incubator farmer” fit into the scheme of incubation?  I like to think of it as a hybrid between the incubators of the natural world and those of the business world.  Yes, we are providing acreage for this young farmer to use.  Yes, we have a written contract (constructed by a lawyer) that articulates what we provide as owners of the land and the farm and what the incubator farmer provides to us in return. 

However, I believe that our incubator-incubatee relationship is more than just a contractual arrangement.  We share knowledge with our incubator farmer.  She helps us tend our own farm to table garden. We give advice about planting, using compost and managing pests and diseases.  We help her fix equipment when it breaks. We converse about the fickleness of farmers’ markets.  We commiserate when the weather or external circumstances sends as much stuff as we brought to market back home with us.  We share wholesale contacts to expand her marketing horizons.  We give her space to make mistakes, and we rejoice her in successes.  Come to think of it, I’d say incubating a farmer is a lot closer to incubating a chick than just renting some space. 

Farmers’ Markets We’re attending one market this Saturday, August 30th: Urbana’s Market at the Square.  We have delicious cheeses for you to enjoy over this long holiday weekend:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • An assortment of bloomy rind cheeses, including Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie and Black Goat.  All are still on the young-ish side, but are perfectly delicious for eating now or setting in your frig for another few days. 
  • Moonglo
  • Huckleberry Blue

This week's Gelato Flavors include:

  • Vanilla
  • Toasted Coconut Cream
  • Raspberry Swirl
  • Plum Sorbetto
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut

Don’t forget to peruse our website for the latest updates on Farm Dinner Ticket Sales and Farm Open House. Summer is slowly exiting and fall is surely on its way, so stay tuned for upcoming events at the farm this fall.


Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.