By Amanda Brennan
Just a couple of miles north of campus lies a hidden gem: a 22-acre farm, home to goats, livestock and hundreds of fruit trees and plants.
The Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery (PFFC), a licensed Grade A goat, dairy and farmstead creamery since 2005, produces fresh goat cheese, goat milk gelato and kits complete with various cheeses, breads and jams. Owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband moved to the Champaign-Urbana area in 2003 where they began their journey with agriculture. Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery is Illinois’ first farmstead creamery.
Normally in the summer months, the farm is bustling with people enjoying a farm-to-table dinner, taking part in a tour of the farm, picking fresh fruit and watching the cheese-making process. As the coronavirus has impacted everyone’s plans, PFFC has adjusted as well.
In weekly emails and frequent blog posts, the farm updates supporters about their changes and promotes ways to remain involved with their farming community. In their most recent email update on July 2, they encouraged trying their newest cheese, the “Blushing Goat.” PFFC explains that, as the rind develops, the new cheese “takes on a lovely pink-yellow hue, and the cheese becomes soft and supple.” They also encourage trying it not only on a warm baguette but also adding sauteed onions to it.
As the State of Illinois continues to reopen, PFFC has been able to slowly reopen as well. The farm is open on the weekends and visitors are required to wear masks at all times. Visit PFFC to try some gelato and a cheese board, and take home shirts and tea towels! Or, participate in their “cheese drive-thru” option on Saturday afternoons to pick up your pre-orders. They hope to reopen for farm-to-table dinners and cheese events this fall if it is safe to do so.
PFFC is also at Urbana’s “Market at the Square” Farmer’s Market Saturday mornings from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Farmer’s Market has additional customer and vendor guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic. Besides wearing a mask and following CDC social distancing guidelines, the market also encourages visitors to only use credit cards and vendors are not required to give change if cash is used. Reusable grocery bags are allowed, but cannot be placed on tables.
Not in the Champaign-Urbana area? PFFC also distributes its products in stores around Peoria and Chicagoland. For more information about visiting Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery, visit their website at https://www.prairiefruits.com.
Photo by Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery