Little Bloom on the Prairie
Located near Champagn, in southern Illinois, Prairie Fruits Farm is owned by Leslie Cooperband and Wes Jarrell, who bought it in 2005 with a view to operate a mixed use, small-scale fruit farm and goat dairy.
With careers as professors within the Wisconsin and Illinois university systems, (Wes as head of Agricultural Science, and Leslie with a strong background in soil science and management) both bring a great deal of experience to farming life. Wes generally takes care of the goats and does the milking, while Leslie oversees the cheesemaking, with help from Alisa, who is Assistant Cheesemaker.
The herd of Nubian and La Mancha milking goats currently numbers about 60 within a closed herd system. The milk is of extremely good quality and yields exceptionally high solids.
Leslie produces several different varieties of cheese, ranging from a fresh chèvre through to a raw milk blue. Most of her sales take place at Farmers' Markets or go to select retail stores, where invariably demand exceeds supply.
The most recent development is that Prairie Fruits Farm is buying a limited quantity of sheep's milk from a local Amish dairy farmer. To that end, Leslie has started experimenting with several sheep's milk cheeses that compliment the existing range of goat's milk cheese.
Little Bloom on the Prairie was one of the first cheeses to be produced at Prairie Fruits Farm and is regularly produced throughout the season.
A mold ripened cheese, Little Bloom has a white, flossy rind and bone-white interior. The texture is delicate, soft and yielding.
Flavors are extremely clean and lactic, with notes of citrus, hay and mushrooms.