by Jonathan Wright
Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery is a commercial Grade A goat dairy and farmstead creamery founded in 2005—the first farmstead cheese-making facility in Illinois. Besides making several styles of artisan goat cheeses and goat milk gelato, they host seasonal farm-to-table meals and are a top destination for visitors to the Champaign-Urbana area, offering guided tours where you can visit the goats and watch how cheese is made.
“Our goat milk is exceptional, and it makes amazing, seasonal goat-milk cheeses,” explain Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband, the husband-wife team behind the operation. “Our goat herd is certified Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) through A Greener World—the gold standard in third-party audited certifications for high animal welfare and pasture-based livestock production. We believe our exceptional goat milk reflects the diversity of their diet and the humane treatment we provide.”
In addition to their herd of more than 100 milking does, the couple manages nearly 80 acres of perennial crops. They also operate a farm store in Champaign called “The Real Stand,” featuring their own gelato, cheeses and baked goods, as well as locally sourced meats, sausages and eggs. In 2021, two of their cheeses received national awards from the Good Food Foundation. prairiefruits.com PM