As the 2022 season draws to a close and we approach the winter holidays, it’s an apt time for reflection. As I peer through the door on the 2022 season, I witness a transformational year for Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery. Despite some health challenges during kidding season, the goats had an amazing year. They had plentiful pastures to graze & browse, they managed to minimize heat stress by hanging out in their silvopasture (trees planted in pasture) and their average herd milk production increased by 40%! We got back into the hay-making business as our new silvopasture grows. We have an amazing dairy crew who are dedicated to keeping the goats happy and healthy and upholding our values of high animal welfare and pasture-based goat dairying.
On the cheese side, we managed to win two Gold Medals for our fresh chevre and fleur de la prairie. While our cheese crew is small, it is mighty. We passed our first-ever third-party food safety audit! Our customers have remained loyal, and our restaurant and food service customers have returned to near pre-pandemic levels. While we have streamlined the agritourism offerings at the farm for the time being, folks still came out to visit with the goats, enjoy some goat hikes, revel at our decked-out Halloween and Christmas goats and enjoy some amazing cheese plates and beverages.
Our final milking of the season will be next Wednesday. The goat girls will begin their well-deserved winter break. The vets’ ultrasounds confirm almost 100% conception rate, so we know that “march madness” will be upon before we know it. We will rest too. Starting next week, the weekly blog goes on winter holiday, barring occasional announcements of special offerings or opportunities to come visit the goats and shop in the farm store. Our farm thrives in this incredibly supportive community. We thank all of you who have supported us this year, and throughout the years. We wish you all the happiest of holidays and an easy endurance of the cold winter months ahead.
This is the last weekend of the year for our regular open hours. We’re open 11-5 both Saturday and Sunday. With the wintery weather upon us, we’ve made our farm store nice ‘n cozy for visitors. After you visit with the goats, come in from the cold and let us warm you UP! We’ve got a new selection of organic and biodynamic wines for the colder season, hot apple cider (with or without a little local bourbon) and goat milk hot chocolate. Peruse the farm store for unique holiday gifts while we prepare a “build your own” cheese board for you. Not sure what cheeses you want to buy? Ask our staff for a free guided tasting of our award-winning cheeses. If you’re immune to the colder weather, enjoy a scoop of gelato!
Wine and Cheese on the Farm? Yes please!
We are one of the few places in Champaign-Urbana where you can get a curated wine and cheese flight. We carry some great organic and/or biodynamic wines. We serve the wine & cheese flight with a rustic baguette bread from Publican Quality Breads in Chicago or with Potters Crackers. $25/person (must be 21 or older) gets you this amazing flight of three wine pours and three cheeses with some surprise accompaniments every weekend. All of our wines come from small family-owned wineries and vineyards using sustainable agriculture practices. Just ask our staff for the details if you’re curious.
We have some other snacking specials too: fresh chevre with apple chips and caramel sauce, a "sampler" cheese plate (3 cheeses and accompaniments served with Publican Quality Bread), goat milk hot chocolate, and hot cider.
Special Items in the Farm Store
The secret ingredient to our amazing cheeses and gelato is our MILK! You too can experience our milk in its purest form! Our milk super fresh (usually less than one day old) and clean. We are permitted to sell raw milk from the farm (Illinois Dept. of Public Health). Curious what it tastes like? We will have samples for you to try-just ask. SUPPLY OF RAW MILK IS LIMITED AS THIS IS THE LAST WEEKEND FOR RAW MILK SALES! FIRST COME FIRST SERVED.
PFFC burlap tote bags!! Perfect for farmers' market shopping!
We’ve also got some great local products, including artisan jams, local honey, hot sauces, preserves and salamis. Don’t forget to check out the PFFC t-shirts, onesies and tea towels.
Artisan cheese boards, spreaders, chopsticks, etc. from Moonspoon. These are GORGEOUS!
Check out the new line of goat milk soaps from The Wright Soapery. She uses our milk and our herbs to craft these amazing soaps-all natural—no artificial dyes or fragrances.
Gorgeous pottery from Slow Phase Clay-hand crafted soap dishes that cradle our soaps perfectly
Fresh Eggs from fellow AWA-certified farm “Joyful Wren”—Once you try these eggs, you won’t want to buy any others!
If you don’t have time to peruse our farm store in person, but you need some milk or cheese or accompaniments, you can always order from our online store for pick up at the farm during weekend open hours. Just let us know if you’re picking up on Saturday or Sunday in the “NOTES” section (before checking out).
Order a Cheese Gift Box--ORDER BY 12-19 FOR DELIVERY BY CHRISTMAS
NOW is a great time to send a cheesy gift box to a friend or family member OR just order one for yourself if you don’t live close by. We have some unique and delicious gift box options OR you can order a variety of different cheeses a la carte.
Check out the selections and order away. We ship on Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week. Please make sure you select either Retail 1-2 ground (for shipments in the Midwest) OR Retail 2nd Day Air (for shipments to the coasts or a warm destination) when you’re ready to check out of the online store.
Ask us about business gift boxes! We can customize any of our gift boxes for the special staff or clients in your business. We ship too! Email us at email@example.com with any questions. Deadline for these orders (if you want them shipped by Wed. Dec. 21st) is Monday, December 19th.
Order Your Holiday Cheese & Charcuterie Platters for Seasonal Entertaining!! Online pre-orders are open NOW. We make these platters to order, so don’t delay in placing your order. Your guests will be very happy! Orders must be received within 48 hours of the pick up date/time. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know the date/time that you'd like to pick up your platter. We will offer pickups on Saturday, Dec. 24th and Dec. 31st from 9 am to 12 noon too. Indicate pick up date when you order in the "notes" section.
Come see us at the Champaign-Urbana Winter Market this Saturday. This is the final market for us until May 2023! From 8 am to 12 noon, you can get some fantastic local food (fall greens, root veggies, meats, eggs, CHEESE, breads, pastries, etc.) PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE continue to support your local farmers. Customer attendance has been low this year. Here are the offerings for the market and the farm store this weekend:
Goldenrod: Our seasonal mixed milk washed-rind beauty-rich, luscious, buttery with a hint of yeastiness from the ale-washed rind-getting super gooey at this point. Serve at room temperature with your favorite jam, fresh pear slices or local honey.
Pelota Roja is BACK!!-Our fall batch is ready for prime time. It's fantastic-notes of pineapple and toasted nuts, supple texture--just slice and eat atop a piece of salami!-very limited
Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper 2022 American Cheese Society 1st Place Medal!
Spiced cranberry chevre!! Just in time for the holidays--slightly sweet balanced with the tanginess of the creamy goat cheese-a must have for your holiday table. LAST CHANCE FOR THIS SEASONAL FLAVOR-LIMITED
Little Bloom on the Prairie (mixed milk): camembert style—ripening nicely this week-can be used for a baked brie too.
Angel Food (mixed milk): crottin (mini-brie) style-aging nicely; pair with our farmstead honey or your favorite jam-sold as a small round or large-format wheel (for baked brie)
Brie en croute kits are back for easy holiday entertaining! Puff pastry, large wheel of Angel Food and Fig Jam + Recipe
Feta in Whey Brine: mixed milk makes our feta delicious-creamy, luscious with the perfect tang-- or warmed in the oven with roasted tomatoes and fresh thyme.
Not sure what to do with feta now that salad weather is on the wane? Here are some suggestions:
--crumble over a hearty stew or chili
--bake in the oven with good extra-virgin olive oil,