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A century of farm life

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

This week, Wes and I are away from the farm. We have travelled to Forest Grove, Oregon to celebrate the 100th birthday of Wes' mother, Edith Jarrell. She was born on a farmstead creamery (how's that for irony and destiny!!), not more than 15 miles from where she currently lives. Her life has been a model of the rural woman as unsung hero. She was raised on a dairy farm, the youngest of three siblings. Her father had moved from Minnesota, like many sons of Midwestern dairy farmers, to claim his stake in the west. His herd was beset by "bangs disease" (now known as Brucellosis), and he had to cull his herd and throw in the towel as a dairy farmer. The family was poor, but Edith had a relatively happy childhood. Her favorite activity was roller skating.

She married just after the second world war and settled into a life of raising children on a small family farm. The Jarrells lived off their land. They raised fruit, vegetables, eggs, beef and milked a dairy cow. Like so many rural women of her generation, her focus was on holding the pieces of daily life together. She made sure her children learned how to work, but also encouraged them in school. She canned and preserved everything she could. She made ice cream with their milk. Even today, her root cellar is a chock full of jars of peaches, pears, grape juice and prunes. You could say she has led a simple life, but this life is rich and complex in its simplicity. Her life lessons are embedded in her children, her grandchildren and her great grand children. For a woman of 100, she is in remarkably good health. Our society tends to shower accolades on the lives of people who have achieved "great things." Edith has achieved great things, and I see it in her offspring and the beautiful jars of fruit in her root cellar.

Farmers' Market Offerings and Farm Happenings

This Saturday, come see us at the outdoor farmers' market, Urbana's Market at the Square. Our location is at the south end of the market in aisle two. Hours are 7 am to 12 noon. There are two more outdoor markets. BUT, Don't forget that the Farmers' Market moves inside Lincoln Square Mall on Saturday November 4th! We have a cornucopia of seasonal chevre flavors for you this weekend. Don't forget the yogurt, farmhouse cheese and feta too! Also, grab a grazing box for Home Coming snacking! We will also have our farm-made seasoned pecans (using Voss Orchard Pecans) and our delicious apple chips

I love this recipe so much, I thought it deserved an encore posting. From Laura Trovillion again. It features our Ukrainian Farmhouse Cheese. Here's the recipe:

Elevated Onion Dip

This simple recipe brings cheesy onion deliciousness to your chips and dip game! This elevated dip combines the cheesy goodness of our Farmhouse cheese with the sweet, caramelized onions in our new favorite savory jam by Divina. Set it all off with the crunch of Kettle cooked potato chips (we love Great Lakes Potato Chips from Michigan)!

1 8 oz. container PFFC Farmhouse Cheese

1 rounded Tablespoon of Divina Caramelized Onion Jam (available in our Farm Store!)

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Pinch of salt

Pinch of dried Thyme (crumbled)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Drain any liquid from our cheese in a wire mesh sieve. Discard liquid and add cheese to a small bowl. Add Worcestershire sauce and salt. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in onion jam, adding more to taste. Spoon mixture into a heat-proof bowl and top with a sprinkling of dried thyme.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until bubbling. Serve hot with Kettle cooked potato chips and let the game or movie marathon begin!

Need some additional cheesy menu ideas for simple eating this fall? You can make a whipped feta and yogurt sauce to pour over roasted squash or sweet potatoes. What about lasagna or stuffed shells with Ukrainian Farmhouse cheese in place of ricotta and homemade tomato sauce from all those tomato "seconds"? How about smoking or grilling a round of young little bloom or angel food and serving apple slices and spiced warm honey?

If you want raw goat milk or gelato, you will need to come out to our farm store during open hours. PLEASE NOTE: Our raw milk supply is dwindling as the goats are getting bred and nearing the end of their seasonal lactations. As such, we will only have limited availability of of fresh raw milk in the store. We have frozen a lot throughout the summer and we will be selling frozen once we run out of the fresh. To ensure that you get fresh (not frozen) you can also order from our online store for farm pickup.

We'll be bringing the following cheeses to market:

  • Fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper 2022 American Cheese Society Gold Medal and 2023 Bronze Medal winner!

  • Fresh chevre with dried tomato (limited)

  • A wide assortment of other seasonal chevres: apple compote, peach-chile, lavender-honey BUY 3 OF ANY OF THE SEASONAL FLAVORS FOR $25 (THAT'S $2 OFF THE REGULAR PRICE)

  • Angel Food: mixed milk mini brie or large format wheels--you choose--SUPER YOUNG

  • Little bloom on the prairie-mixed milk camembert-sytle bloomy rind-SUPER YOUNG

  • Ukrainian Farmhouse Cheese-all cow milk, fresh cheese-it's like a cross between cottage cheese & ricotta-great for sweet or savory applications

  • Feta in whey brine: crumble on a summer salad! Use the whey brine to marinate chicken or lamb! Put it on a pizza! 2023 ACS Bronze Medal

  • Goat milk yogurt (pints and quarts)-all natural, no thickening agents-use it as the base of a marinade, a salad dressing or just eat it with fresh fruit.

Introducing PFFC grazing boxes to the farmers' market!

Check out the latest offerings from the creamery: These grazing boxes feature our cheeses and some delicious accompaniments. This week's box features two kinds of chevre, Publican Quality Multigrain bread, house-made apple chips, farmstead honey, caramelized onion jam and seasoned pecans. They can be enjoyed on the go, at the market with a coffee, at a picnic or at home. Simple and satisfying! Come grab a box this Saturday!

Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery-Fresh Picks Cheese Board Collaboration

For those of you in the Chicagoland area who have been wondering where to find PFFC cheeses, look no further. Fresh Picks, a home delivery service featuring local and organic foods, carries a lovely assortment of our cheeses. You can order a la carte OR, even better, you can order a local cheese board featuring our cheeses, local charcuterie and accompaniments. You can even order wine to go with it!!

Save the Date: Sunday October 29th, 1-4 pm "Goaty Halloween"

Yes, the tradition lives on at Prairie Fruits Farm! Goats in costumes, guests in costumes, hay rides around the farm, fresh cider, Nieces Pieces Pumpkin Brownie-Gelato Sundaes, pumpkin decorating and so much more. Put this one on your calendars folks!

Farm Open Hours

Fall is a gorgeous time to visit the farm. We are open Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am to 5 pm. You can visit with the goats, taste our raw milk (and buy some to take home), shop our farm store for cheeses, accompaniments and unique gifts, enjoy a cheese board under our pavilion or grab a scoop of gelato. In addition to "Goaty Halloween, we plan to offer some special events and workshops throughout the fall and holiday season. Stay tuned for a listing of events and the details.

We've have some amazing new flights for fall, featuring a buttery Italian white (La Coccinelle) and a rich French red (Hermitage de Pic Saint Loup). Our beer flight has a fantastic sour from Polyanna, an easy-drinking Belgian style ale and a German-style beer. Both flights feature cheeses from Jacobs & Brichford, in memory of Mathew Brichford, their founder/head cheese maker, who was at the forefront of some of the best pasture-based, raw-cow milk cheeses in the US (even internationally). He was a kindred spirit in the very small community of US pasture-based farmstead creameries, and his recent passing is a huge loss to the artisan cheese community overall.

Please note: on Saturdays, we offer "build your own" cheese boards and flights starting at 12:30 pm until closing. On Sundays, they are available from 11-5.

Our farm is great place to unwind, enjoy some great cheese and gelato and take in the natural surroundings that are so scarce in central Illinois. Our goat teenage girls are usually hanging around close to the barns and fences, waiting for your adoration. We have raw goat milk for sale as well as a fantastic selection of cheese accompaniments (crackers, jams, sauces, pickles, wines, beers) as well as Joyful Wren pastured-poultry eggs, our goat milk soap (made for us exclusively by The Wright Soapery), tea towels and t-shirts. Come see the latest new offerings in the farm store. From Divina fruit spreads, to Great Lakes Potato Chips ((the cherry BBQ is the "bomb!") to Central Illinois Bakehouse crackers and a growing array of roasted and seasoned Voss orchard pecans, we have some of the best accompaniments you'll find in central Illinois.

In general, we plan to offer hikes every Saturday at 11 am. If it is too hot or if it's raining, we will postpone until Sunday at 11AM. Not sure if it's happening? Just check in with our staff when you arrive on Saturdays. We plan to offer hikes through October. We may continue into November if the weather remains good.

When hikes happen, join Wes or one of our rock star volunteers on a stroll along the eastern edge of our farm. It's a gorgeous part of the farm. The hike lasts for about 30-40 minutes and then we take you on a brief tour of the dairy. It ends with a scoop of gelato. $18/person includes the hike, a farm tour and a scoop of gelato at the end.



If you own or work in a business or a non-profit organization that has the custom of giving gifts to your favorite clients/customers/donors, consider a unique and delicious cheesy gift box from Prairie Fruits Farm! We have curated four gift boxes for all budgets. Since this page/collection is password protected, please email me at if you would like to check out our offerings and place an order. The deadline for placing orders is November 6th, to give us ample time to get all components in stock to fulfill orders. For those of you who want to order holiday gift boxes for individual gift giving, have no fear! We will be posting those options on our website sometime in early November. Stay tuned.

Want to order for farm pick up during the weekend? Need some raw goat milk? Eggs from Joyful Wren? Cheese? Just order from our Online Store for Farm Pick-Up. It's super easy!! Not local? You can still support us! You can order from our online retail store. We ship nationwide Mondays through Wednesdays every week. You can choose from one of our gift collections or just mix and match a la carte. Retail Holiday Gift boxes landing in early to mid November!!

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Happy 100th birthday, Cousin Edith!! 😍😘Cousin hugs & lots of love!!!

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