Meet Leslie Cooperband of Prairie Fruits Farm, a renaissance woman who’s a soil expert on the faculty of University of Illinois and one of our region’s best goat cheese makers.
Readers here know I have a deep affection for these spirited animals and their cheese, and in future Friday Farmer posts I’ll introduce you to the women behind Capriole in Indiana, Reichert’s Dairy Air in Iowa and Fantome in Wisconsin.
Leslie and her husband Wes Jarrell tend about 70 goats, a blend of Nubian (with the long floppy ears) and Nubian crossed with La Mancha (the little ones whose ears are so small you almost don’t believe they can hear).
Prairie Fruits is the first farmstead goat cheese creamery in Illinois. The term “farmstead” refers to cheese that’s made from milk produced on the farm. It implies an intimate operation, with an emphasis on quality. The flavor? Sheer delight.
Prairie Fruits offer fresh and aged cheeses, and also a number of seasonal selections. You can find them at the Urbana farmers market and Green City in Chicago.
And if you find yourself in central Illinois, Prairie Fruits hosts farm dinners, meals enjoyed outdoors at a long table. It’s well worth a visit. And if you can’t wait for the season to begin, think about heading to the kitchen to enjoy your own local goat cheese:
- Polenta waffles with goat cheese
- Paris vacation onion tart
- Little goat cheese and roasted red pepper biscuit sandwiches. This post includes a link to a petition to stop a road scheduled to divide the acreage at Prairie Fruits. It’s the kind of stimulus we certainly don’t need, as we continue to lose valuable farmland to development. Please take a look and chime in to support local food and small producers.