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fall fruit harvest and the value of farm labor, farm & market offerings this weekend

Farm News

The heat and humidity were whisked away, succeeded by a classic September feel. The crisp fall air, coupled with the on-cue call of the fall resident blue jays, had me thinking about our fall fruits this week. Wes and I ventured into the orchard yesterday with some trepidation. Since the peach trees are truly on their last legs (limbs broken, leaves falling prematurely), we were not sure what we’d find from the apple and pear trees. To our delight, several of the apple varieties were loaded with ripe or ripening fruit. The Moonglo pears had modest yields, but the fruit was too high to harvest without a ladder (we were not that determined).


We rejoiced at the sight of the Seckel pears, thick like green grapes on their drooping branches. This little pear is an heirloom variety of dessert pear. The small size belies the big and complex flavors of this pear. When ripe, the pear is juicy, slightly tart and a bit floral. It is excellent for poaching or just eating fresh when you need a few bites of deliciousness. We filled a flat of still green fruits, knowing they will continue to ripen off the tree. Unlike their apple cousins, this variety seems able to withstand the onslaught of insect pests and diseases so prevalent in the rest of the fruit in our orchard. Yes, there were a few telltale insect piercing holes and brown rot bottoms, but overall, they were pristine; at least by neglect organic orchard standards.

As we enter into the Labor Day Holiday weekend, I am reminded about the constancy of farm labor, especially dairy farm labor. Dairy farmers always remind those who tempt them to take the holiday off, that their cows or goats or sheep don’t take holidays. We celebrate the hard-working dairy farmers and our caprine working girls this weekend. Their tireless labors give us the lifeblood of the farm—our milk. The shift in weather has our does thinking about breeding, and those days will be upon in less than one month! Be assured that they will get their well-deserved holiday break in winter. Meanwhile, goats and humans labor on.


Farm Open Hours—VISIT THE FARM, CHECK OUT OUR “FARM BAR”—ENJOY SOME OF THE BEST LOCAL FOOD AROUND!

The cooler weather makes for a perfect outing to our farm this holiday weekend. Guests can enjoy artfully crafted cheese and charcuterie boards, small bites highlighting what’s local and in season and weekly specials. Breads from Publican Quality Bread (Chicago, IL), goat-milk yogurt parfaits and scones from Alchemy Coffee & Bakehouse (Wilmette IL) round out the menu. Sunday brunch “Bloody Mary’s” will feature organic tomatoes from Blue Moon Farm (Urbana IL). Need more enticing? Come try some amazing wines that you can’t find anywhere else in Champaign-Urbana! This week’s featured menu items include:

  • Cheese boards

  • Charcuterie Boards featuring Piemonte Sausage Co. and Underground Meats salumi

  • Publican Quality Bread (PQB) crostini du jour (changes weekly)

  • Watermelon and Feta Salad with fresh mint

  • Tomato-olive tapenade with warm PQB bread

  • PFFC “pimento cheese” with warm PQB bread

Local Canary Melon Mimosas—all weekend long!!

We’ve started a NEW tradition of wine flights! We’ll feature three wines from our Organic & Biodynamic Portfolio for a set price. Wine not your thing? Enjoy a cold brew from our newest selection of local microbrews, kombucha beer and hard cider! We’re very excited about these new libations.

Hours are:

Fridays, 4-8 pm

Saturdays, 11-8 pm

Sundays, 11-5 pm


In the farm store, we now feature vegetables from new farmer “Open Hands Farm.” Selections change weekly but right now, you can expect tomatoes, garlic and potatoes for sure.


Farm Dinners and Farm Events are BACK! While our Paul Virant and Sunday Dinner Club dinners are both sold out, we are working hard on adding more dinners and special events. Save the date for a very special Mezcal and Small Plates Pairing Event with Alex Jandernoa of Banhez Mezcal, Oaxaca, Mexico on October 9th. Save the date for a Sunday afternoon of cannoli and gelato with The Tony Cannoli of Lincoln Illinois-October 17th.


Urbana’s Market at the Square: Featured Items Going to Market This Saturday-7 am to 12 noon

The weekend weather will be PERFECT for a shopping spree at the farmer’s market this weekend. Many fruit and vegetable farmers are starting to offer some fall produce (apples, winter squash, fall greens for example), but still have loads of the summer goodies (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant). It’s really my favorite time of year for local food eating. We’re a bit lean on goat bloomy rind cheeses this weekend, but we have lots of other great cheeses for you to enjoy this weekend, whether you’re entertaining with guests or just wanting to enjoy some simply prepared foods this holiday weekend.


Can’t make it to the market? No worries! Order from our online store for farm pick up either Saturday or Sunday during farm open hours.

Here’s the line-up of offerings for this weekend:

  • Fresh Mozzarella! Yes, you read that right! We are now making fresh mozzarella with the amazing cow milk from Rocky Road Dairy. Like all of our cheeses, we make this cheese as close to traditional methods as possible. Comes as a perfectly formed ball (approximately 5-6 oz)-perfect for your very own caprese salads as well as home made pizza!

  • Gidget’s Grilling Cheese-made with rich, grassfed cow’s milk from Rocky Road Farm. Grill or pan fry to get some nice caramelization on the outside. Drizzle with local honey and a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh herbs. Enjoy with crusty baguette or some grilled summer squash.

  • Artisan Cottage Cheese-summer milk from grazing cows makes an AMAZING cottage cheese. It is both gorgeous (lovely yellow in color-a testament to the grass the cows are eating) and delicious. If you think cottage cheese is boring, you really need to give this a try! It’s a game changer!

  • Pimento cheese—we’re making this for the FIRST time-featuring organic red peppers from Blue Moon Farm and parmesan like cheese called “Everton Reserve” from our cow-dairy friends at Jacobs & Brichford in Indiana). Can’t wait to share this with you all!

  • Fresh chevre

    • Plain

    • Herbs de Provence

    • Cracked peppercorn

    • Dried Tomato!! YES It’s BACK and boy is it delicious as ever!!

  • Little Bloom on the Prairie our goat milk camembert-style; this batch is aging nicely; enjoy with sliced heirloom tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil!

  • Pelota Roja- raw goat milk Manchego style cheese with a guajillo-olive oil rub—so good for shaving over a tomato and basil salad or grilled eggplant! 2021 GOOD FOOD AWARD WINNER!

  • Goat Milk Feta aged in Whey Brine-try with grilled peaches and a drizzle of honey (sweet and salty and sublime). Watermelon season is HERE for your feta-watermelon salads!

  • Goat Milk Yogurt—it makes a great smoothie or enjoy with your favorite granola and fresh berries-now available in both pints and quarts! We are featuring our yogurt in our farm kitchen’s parfaits this weekend.

  • Goat Milk Gelato by Pint (4-5 flavors at the market; many more at the farm)

If you’re interested in buying fresh raw goat milk, you can either order from our online store for farm pick up on the weekends, or just visit our farm store during open hours—now offering both quarts and half gallons in our refrigerated display case.


We’re HIRING!

We are seeking an experienced Part-Time Kitchen-Farm Store & Events Staff Member. The ideal candidate will have an interest in learning how to execute our new weekend “small bites” menu while also assisting with service from our “farm bar” and helping to execute our bi-monthly Farm to Table Dinners and private events. Experience in a commercial kitchen and proof of Illinois Food Handler’s License required. Additional qualifications include:

· Passion for food and cooking, especially using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients

· Cheese lover a big plus (we are a farmstead cheese producer after all, and our menu is very cheese-centric)!

· Excellent hygiene and attention to maintain safe food conditions in the kitchen

· Reliable, punctual, honest

· Ability to work in a seasonally hot kitchen

· Ability to multi-task (e.g., prepare simple foods, wash dishes, wait on customers, serve alcoholic beverages)

· Ability to work in a small team setting

Hours of availability needed are subject to change based on events, but candidate will primarily be scheduled Fridays-Sundays ( approx. 25 hours/week)

We value our employees and offer a competitive fair wage to all who work here. Ifyou or someone you know is interested in this position, please contact…

Lisa Wells, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery Event Planner at prairiefruitsevents@gmail.com Please send a cover letter explaining your interest in the position (and why you think you’re a good fit) along with a current resume.


Goats for Sale

Looking for a family milking goat or a 4-H project for your kids? Looking to build a small herd to make some goat milk soaps and skin care products? Looking to expand your commercial dairy goat herd? Want some goats to keep your invasive plants at bay? How about a few goats to take on hikes? We have what you’re looking for! Our goats are certified “Animal Welfare Approved,” registered through the American Dairy Goat Association AND super happy and healthy. Send us an email (prairiefruitsinfo@gmail.com) and we’ll let you know what we have available.

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