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In celebration of american cheese

Farm News

The American Cheese Society has anointed May as "American Cheese Month." American cheese connotes many things; in the not too distant past, it referred mostly to a barely cheese food known as "kraft singles." In the past twenty years that I have been associated with cheese and cheese making, there has been a renaissance of American artisan cheese making. Where traditions existed (think Wisconsin and Vermont), but were suppressed by the onslaught of industrial food manufacturing in the 1950's-70's, small-scale producers re-emerged in the mid to late 1990's, plying wheels of their small-batch, authentic, euro-inspired cheeses to budding european-style cheese shops in the big cities. In the early 2000's, something magical started to happen. There was an explosion of new cheese makers, small in scale, often farmstead producers (using the milk from their own herds) to make novel cheeses, and they were good! They started submitting these cheeses to national and international cheese competitions, and they started winning awards.

We established our little goat dairy-farmstead creamery in the early years of this renaissance. When our little farmstead goat creamery was barely one year old, I attended my first American Cheese Society Conference in Burlington Vermont. In 2006, the ACS was still a small, low-budget organization. The collegiality among cheese makers and mongers was inspiring; American cheese makers wanted to learn from each other and share their experiences. I sat in on technical sessions covering the science of cheese making, trouble shooting flaws in cheese as well how to market cheese. I networked with new and experienced cheese makers. I met my first set of cheese making friends whom I still consider friends and comrades to this day. I attended the "festival of cheese;" a cheese tasting extravaganza of all the cheeses entered into the cheese competition. It all blew my mind.

I entered our first bloomy rind cheese--little bloom on the prairie-a goat milk camembert-style cheese-in the competition. Shockingly, it won third place in its category. It was made at a time when we didn't even have aging rooms in which to properly ripen our cheeses. I created high humidity conditions by placing the naked rounds on racks inside a large plastic tote under refrigeration temperatures! "Aeration" occurred by opening and closing the lid daily (very scientific!!).

Times have changed since those early days, and I doubt that same batch of cheese would be a contender now. American cheese production has matured and evolved. There are still small farmstead and artisan producers like us; yet many of the pioneers of the American Artisan Cheese Movement have retired and sold their companies to larger multinational cheese manufacturers. There are still stunning and delicious cheeses being made, using milk from pastured animals, representing the best of what American cheese is and can be. American cheeses give their nods to traditions from abroad; yet, they reflect the independent and creative spirits that are unfettered by thousand-year old traditions. During this month of May, eat lots of American artisan cheeses-celebrate the ingenuity of these amazing cheese makers and support the small independent creameries like ours.

There are a lot of changes afoot on the farm. The construction of a new farm kitchen and dining space, upgrades to the dairy and creamery and a fresh face to the farm for our guests and visitors to enjoy. Please read all the happenings below and come visit us! Soft Opening is this weekend, just in time for Mother's Day celebrations!

Happenings at the Farm & Beyond

The outdoor market season has begun. GREAT NEWS: We are attending BOTH the "Urbana's Market at the Square" AND "Downtown Bloomington Market." The Urbana Market runs 7 AM to 12 noon and the Bloomington Farmers' Market runs 7:30 AM to 12 noon. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery will be in the same location in Urbana as last year (the south end of the market in line with aisle two) but with an expanded footprint (and more offerings). We will be sharing space with Central Illinois Bakehouse at the Bloomington Market. If you're thinking about crafting a special cheese & charcuterie board for Mother's Day, let us help you make some selections:

  • Mixed-milk feta in whey brine ! Tangy, creamy yet crumbly--just as you remember it!! Crumble it on everything, especially roasted beets!

  • Feta marinated in olive oil with herbs & spices (come early for this one!!)

  • Chevre frais: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper and everything bagel seasoning--so fresh and lemony, it screams spring is here!!

  • SEASONAL chevre flavor: fresh chive and lemon zest!! Grab a bunch as we will have limited offerings on all of our seasonal chevre flavors this year.

  • Goat milk yogurt!!! Both pints and quarts available this week! Buy your yogurt and then pop over to CIB's stand to grab some of there house-made granola!!

  • Jersey Milk Gournay: the perfect substitute for cream cheese-available in plain, garlic & herb, everything bagel seasoning and spiced cranberry

  • Ukrainian Farmers' Cheese: think ricotta and cottage cheese make a baby-delicious served with seasonal berries OR use in a savory dish like stuffed peppers

  • Angel Food-brie style: petite rounds-mixed-milk and introducing our all goat version called "Archangel."

  • Black goat: our all-goat milk ash-ripened bloomy; super young this week-tart, earthy, toothsome and delicious

  • Fleur de la Prairie: our all-goat milk bloomy adorned with dried edible flowers and herbs

Our weekly CSA share offers you unique pairings with ultimate flexibility. Every week, you'll get cheese, bread and house-made accompaniments. We will have these for sale at both the Urbana and Bloomington farmers' markets, but please go ahead and sign up for shares. Pretty soon, you will only be able to get these shares if you pre-order. This Saturday's share is perfect for a Mother's Day Brunch

  • everything bagel chevre

  • Underground Meats dry-cured salami

  • house-made onion jam

  • half a loaf of 7-grain bread

Farm Open Hours

We are so pleased to announce our new open hours of operation! Thank you so much for your support and patience as we navigated several much needed construction projects on the farm. We welcome visitors during the following hours:

  1. Tuesdays: Happy Hour! 5-7. Goat Yoga (Pilates) available. Buy tickets online in advance or at the farm before class starts. Bar will be open along with small bites and bar snacks.

  2. Wednesdays: Closed to the public. Farm to Table dinner night, reservations and tickets required. 

  3. Thursdays 11-9. Lunch and dinner counter service available from our newly remodeled restaurant. Find a seat inside or enjoy open seating around the farm. Order at your table or at the bar and pick up inside. Menu items feature local produce and proteins and will change seasonally. Accessible, upscale modern-American farm-to-table dining. Salads, sandwiches, cheese plates and small bites. 

  4. Fridays. 11-9. Same as Thursdays

  5. Saturdays 9-9. Farm opens earlier on the weekend. Coffee and pastries available 9-11. Same service 11-9.

  6. Sundays 9-4. Coffee and pastries 9-11. Lunch service (same menu) 11-4. 

  7. CLOSED MONDAYS. Please respect our staff's needed time to complete farm work and only plan to visit us during open hours. 

Reserve your spot for a hike with the goats! Now offering two time options:

Thursday Happy Hour Hike with The Goats-5 pm (includes a beverage at the end of the hike)

Saturday morning Hike-11 am (includes cheese and/or gelato sampling).

During all open hours guests can enjoy walking around the farm grounds on marked trails, visiting with the goats and enjoying a meal or beverage sitting under the pavilion or on the lawns. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer any questions about the goats and to chat about the farm. Please no outside food and no pets. 

Thank you!

Please follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram and check your inboxes for future updates.

Goat Yoga-Pilates comes to the farm in early May, featuring our adorable baby goats and certified Pilates instructor Lisa Staples of Living Legacy Pilates. Sign up now for this light-hearted workout.

Farm to Table Dinners: Chefs Garron and Cody will be offering pre-fixe multi-course meals featuring locally grown foods and our cheeses, of course. Dinner tickets include non-alcoholic beverages, taxes and gratuity. Wine, beer and cocktails are available for purchase at the farm, or you can pre-purchase a beverage add-on to your meal that includes a welcome cocktail and two full pours of paired wines with dinner.

We look forward to welcoming you to the farm! Go on our website NOW to make reservations.

Themes for May

May 8th- Nostalgic American Classics

May 15th-Regional Series: Peruvian Cuisine

May 21st-"Cochon 217" Pork Centric Event

May 28th-Regional Series: Cuban Cuisine

May 15th - Peruvian Dinner Menu

Bread Service-Marraqueta with whipped lard

Prawn Ceviche- Leche De tigre, sweet potato, corn, pickled fresno, cilantro

Braised Beef Empanadas with chimichurri

Arroz Con Pollo- Duck breast, rice crisps, coriander scented red and yellow pepper cream, peas, fried carrots, chive oil

SUSPIRO DE LIMEÑA & TURRÓN DE DOÑA PEPA- Cajeta custard, port meringue 


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