As I watch the setting sun's rays break through clouds over a dusty soybean field in harvest, I turn back toward the still-green alfalfa field that sits adjacent to our woods. We are forage farmers, embracers of perennial agriculture, seekers to farming with nature, not against her. Our kind of agriculture is messy and sometime unkempt, but rarely dirty. Our kind of agriculture leaves tall grasses and "weeds" for pollinators and beneficial insects; those weeds--goldenrod and aster-glisten in the low light of a crisp fall morning.
We have created walking paths throughout our farm to connect us back to the natural elements. Yes, our landscape has been intensely altered by humans. Yes, our creek has been channeled and its slopes butchered by the drainage district to ensure that excess water drains off those "highly productive" crop fields. Yes, our woodland is invaded by honeysuckle and the edges ringed by poison ivy vines. Yet, it retains elements of nature, just enough to create habitat for nesting song birds and wood peckers and raptors. The microclimate of cool air wafting from the woodland edge on a hot summer day is a reminder that trees have value on a farm.
The walking paths are my solace, they offer familiarity to a routine, but they also signal the changes of the seasons, the impact of a prolonged drought or a recent deluge. We do our part to keep them walkable, especially for our aging and arthritic dog Blue. They clear my head, or at least force my head to collect its thoughts. They force me to use my phone only for photography. They make me pay attention to the light. The rhythm of the walk takes hold; even an aging dog can sense the joy in not knowing what lies beyond the bend.
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. 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!
This week's simple, cheese recipe comes 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? With the cooler weather, how about baked feta with olive oil, fresh herbs and spiced honey? 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 a tuna melt with little bloom on the prairie camembert-style?
If you want raw goat milk or gelato, you will need to come out to our farm store during open hours. 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
A wide assortment of other seasonal chevres: apple compote, peach-chile, lavender-honey
Angel Food: mixed milk mini brie or large format wheels--you choose--aging nicely (limited)
Little bloom on the prairie-mixed milk camembert-sytle bloomy rind-also aging nicely (limited)
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!
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.
NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. HIKE STARTS PROMPTLY AT 11:00 am. SUITABLE FOR AGES 8 AND OLDER. WEAR STURDY SHOES FOR UNEVEN TERRAIN AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING/HATS FOR THE WEATHER. WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO BRING A WATER BOTTLE AND SUNSCREEN TOO.
HOLIDAY GIFT BOXES FOR BUSINESSES AND ORGANIZATIONS
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!!