A few months after we moved down here from Chicago, Rey began volunteering at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery and helped take care of the baby goats. He was instantly hooked. After bringing me along for a while we became volunteer “regulars”. Rey ended up working as a milker at the farm and helped out with herd management while I started learning how to make cheese and working in the cheeserie on weekends. Rey was also baking crackers and cooking lunches for the Central Illinois Farm Beginnings course being held at the farm by The Land Connection. Our involvement at Prairie Fruits provided us with wonderful, hands-on experience and the local food and farm “family” that we had been searching for.
That family provided us with a lot of opportunities and learning experiences. A little over a year ago, we were given the opportunity to plan a series of breakfast menus that focused on locally grown and sourced fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, and grains. We then prepared those menus for the large crowds that descended upon Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery for Breakfast & Babies. Now, only one year later, that could not feel like more of a distant memory. Back then we knew what we wanted to do, and we had most of the skills to attempt it, we just weren’t sure if it would work or if anyone would care. We wanted to start our own bakery.
Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband, the owners and operators of Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, did care. They cared during the PFF&C winter market where they suggested that we provide doughnuts to customers around Christmas. After seeing what we could do, they not only encouraged us to open Lucky Pierre Bakers, but they gave us the opportunity to showcase our products, skills, and ethos on their largest public platform, against the backdrop of an ever-growing herd of adorable baby goats.
We never knew what would become of our start-up bakery, in fact, we weren’t even sure it would ever get off the ground. It’s pretty daunting when you try to make something work that people seem convinced can’t work; namely running a sustainable bakery that focuses on local ingredients and local farmers. We’re still not even sure it can work, but we’re going to keep baking, prioritizing local and seasonal ingredients, and bringing delicious sweet and savory treats to farmers markets and local businesses around the Champaign-Urbana area.
So whenever you try one of our products, remember that small businesses like ours rely on other other small businesses to get started, and in our case, it was Wes and Leslie at Prairie Fruits Farm. If you’re interested in visiting the farm, volunteering, or checking out Babies & Brunch this year with Raquel Ritz and Sarah Stewart make sure to check out the PFF&C website and Facebook page: