Baby goats warm community hearts
For most University students, seeing puppies on the Main Quad is an experience that melts their hearts. But now students have another animal to fawn over — baby goats at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery.
Leslie Cooperband and Wes Jarrell decided to make a change back in 2003. They traded city life for a quieter life on the farm.
The two moved from Madison, Wis., to the rural parts of Champaign. It was there they bought a farm named Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery. In 2005, they received their license as a Grade A goat dairy and farmstead creamery. They also won the IDOA Sustainable Ag Award, and now host the annual Babies and Breakfast event on their farm.
Babies and Breakfast is an event that allows the Champaign community to come see baby goats on the farm and enjoy a nice breakfast.
This is the third year Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery has held the event.
Babies and Breakfast began March 18 and will continue Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon through April 29. Admission is free but breakfast and farm apparel have a fee.
Cooperband said the event was created to attract people to the farm, celebrate spring, see baby goats and enjoy a locally-sourced breakfast.
Cooperband and Jarrell serve food harvested on their own farm. Food is also provided by other farmers in the Champaign area.
At the event, dozens of baby goats and newborns are available for guests to pet and feed. Attendees can witness the goats energetically jump around and play with the toys left for them in the barn.
Jen Quinlan, farm volunteer, finds working with these goats a particularly rewarding experience.
“For me, no matter what happens in your day, it’s very hard to be upset if you get to be around goats,” Quinlan said. “They’re people-oriented, especially the babies. They move in such a wild, silly, erratic way that it’s absolutely impossible to go into the baby barn and not see someone cracking a smile.”
What Quinlan finds special about this event is that it stresses sustainable farming. People can come and actually see the source of their food. Quinlan said Cooperband and Jarrell’s passion for organic farming is one that she greatly believes in.
“Personally being someone that lives in Champaign-Urbana I think it’s really important to invest your time and volunteer your time in places that you believe in,” Quinlan said. “I think Wes and Leslie’s business is one that I personally believe in where they treat people well, they’re dedicated to the community, they stand for education (and) they go above and beyond.”
According to the Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery website, the farm hopes to serve as a model for small-scale diversified farming systems.
“Their farm embodies core principles of sustainability including environmental stewardship, economic viability and social responsibility,” the website said. “They strive to educate the community about organic and sustainable agriculture and the connections between food production and consumption.”
The Babies and Breakfast event offers donuts, beignets, cheeses and eggs. It also offers gelato and various drinks, such as the farm’s goat milk hot chocolate and Columbian coffee.
“The families can know that the products that they buy from Prairie Fruits Farm are ethically done,” Quinlan said.
Tricia Ebersold, sophomore in AHS, started volunteering on the farm Saturday, and found her first day a gratifying experience.
Ebersold’s favorite part of the farm is seeing how happy all the children are when they see the goats and eat the donuts provided by the farm.
On her first day, Ebersold helped with serving food. She said that the event was so popular that they eventually ran out of some of the food items offered there.
Stephanie Norick, Champaign resident, attended the event for the first time Saturday. She said it provides the community with something unique to do on the weekends.
“I can see it being really neat for kids, like being able to get up close to goats,” Norick said. “I don’t think they get that opportunity otherwise.”
Norick said her favorite part of the event is being able to actually feed and touch the goats.
The goal of the farm is to promote sustainability and educate Champaign locals on the importance of organic farming. Babies and Breakfast allows the farm to help accomplish this goal.
“It’s a chance to see a real working farm … and interact with adorable baby goats and get people attuned to eating some fantastic local food,” Cooperband said.