Champaign-Urbana is a modern, micro-urban oasis bursting with arts and culture, music, sports, festivals and so much more.
But locals pay homage to their agricultural foundation, too. There are near-daily farmers’ markets across the area, award-winning culinary stops featuring local ingredients, and in the fall, you’ll find lots of opportunities to pick fruit and pumpkins. It’s an area of wide-open skies, tall fields of corn and acres upon acres of soybeans.
To get the quintessential Champaign County agricultural experience, combining those wide-open skies with farm-fresh flavors, look no further than Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery.
Owner Wes Jarrell gets in with the goats on a tour with guests
Prairie Fruits is a goat milk dairy farm known for their award-winning goat cheese and artisan goat milk gelato. Their products are found around the community, including Urbana’s Market at the Square and Common Ground Food Co-op, but the farm itself is a must-visit destination.
In the summer months, it’s the perfect place to sit back and enjoy a peaceful evening on the prairie. Relax with a cheese board and a glass of wine, local beer or classic bottled soda from Homer Soda Company. The goats will be there to socialize with you, too.
The Farm also hosts events throughout the year. One highlight is spring’s Babies & Breakfast, where guests mingle with dozens of baby goats while enjoying a locally-sourced breakfast and delicious goat’s milk hot chocolate.
But the true, can’t-miss Prairie Farm experience is the Farm-to-Table Dinner.
Families flock to Prairie Fruits Farm for their spring events to meet the baby goats
These dinners are what food-lovers’ dreams are made of. They’re full evenings of themed, slow-food meals, shining a spotlight on produce and dairy from Prairie Farms and elsewhere in the region. Guest chefs from Chicago often work alongside local chefs to produce the menu.
Upon arriving for one of the dinners, you’ll be greeted by owners Leslie Cooperband and Wes Jarrell. These self-identified “recovering academics” decided to purchase a farm so Wes could enjoy some delicious peaches.
Once checked in, find a spot at the large communal tables amongst the dozens of other guests there to enjoy the culinary adventure. You’re encouraged to BYOB, though the farm also offers organic and biodynamic wine choices, as well as all-local microbrews.
As you savor the many courses, you’ll learn more about the evening’s meal and ingredients from the chefs, who regularly chat with guests. The farmers who raise or grow the evening’s ingredients are also often on hand to discuss their practices and share their insights about local agriculture.
Between courses, the Prairie Farms team will invite you to stroll the beautiful grounds, where you’ll see the milking room; the area where the team produces cheese; a garden; and groves of fruit trees. You’ll also find Delight Flower Farm, a sustainable, women-owned flower farm. Their Yoga with Goats events may be the only chance you’ll ever have to cuddle baby goats as you move into Sun Salutation.
As your dinner comes to an end, so will the daylight hours. Sit back and enjoy the sunset on the prairie; the perfect view to complement a perfect meal. It’s truly an extraordinary experience, bringing together idyllic surroundings, farm-fresh flavors, wide-open skies and, of course, goats.