Farmer Friday – Prairie Fruits Farm, Champaign, Illinois

leslie 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:

Your turn.  Whose goat cheese do you enjoy?

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  1. Hello!
    I have to agree, there’s nothing better than fresh from the farm or home-grown! I purchased my first dairy goat 3 years ago and I’m hooked on home cheese making. These sweet ‘girls’ are THE most loveable animal on the farm! I love anything made with goat cheese…thanks for sharing your recipes! When my ‘girls’ aren’t in milk, I purchase fresh cow milk from Crooked Creek Dairy, Armada, MI.

  2. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced home-grown or fresh cheese – sad, huh! BUT now that I know there is such a thing, I’m going to see if I can find some in my area. I can’t wait for our Farmer’s Markets are open again – my favorite part of summer!

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