CCFB is kicking off the month of February by showing some love for our February FACE of Champaign County Agriculture, Lynn Doran. Check out the wonderful article about Lynn and her involvment with local agriculture!
Meet local artisan cheese maker and active Champaign County Farm Bureau volunteer Lynn Doran. Lynn is a Wisconsin native, growing up on a 50 cow traditional dairy farm before moving to Colorado with her family. Lynn graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in animal science and worked in the corporate world focusing on food safety testing and food labels before moving to Illinois. She says “I have seen the entire spectrum of food production from the corporate end to the farm end.”
Lynn has become a sensation in the Farm Bureau world. She competed and won the Illinois Farm Bureau state discussion meet and went on to compete nationally at the American Farm Bureau Federation discussion meet held in Arizona. According to Illinois Farm Bureau’s publication FarmWeek, discussion meet participants are evaluated by a panel of judges on “their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic…topics included protecting farmers’ data, management of natural resources and food labeling.” Lynn did not come away with the national win, but the experience was priceless and one she won’t soon forget.
Lynn’s day job keeps her busy too. She is one of two cheese makers at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery located in Champaign. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery makes 8 types of cheeses from goat’s milk and sometimes experiments with other cheeses. At Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, Lynn is involved in all aspects of cheese making from tending to the 85 goats that are kept onsite and milked daily to production scheduling to cleaning equipment. Lynn says “specifically, Nubian and La Mancha goats are used because these breeds produce higher butter fat content milk than others, which is better for cheese.” One goat will produce approximately ¾ of a gallon of milk per day, 1 ½ gallon of milk can roughly make 1 lb of cheese. During the Farm’s peak season, March through August, cheese makers produce and move 100 lbs of cheese per day.
According to Lynn, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery is unique because once the goat is milked, that milk only travels 20 to 40 ft before it hits the creamery. Milk is held less than 3 days and usually less than 16 hours during peak season before being made into cheese. Want to see the cheese making in action? You are in luck because Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery has a viewing window allowing you to see a two vat pasteurizer. Don’t get too excited and expect to watch hours and hours of cheese making. Lynn says “we are only stirring and handling the cheese approximately two hours per day. We spend a lot of time cleaning, food safety requires hyper-cleanliness, and you might just see us doing dishes!”
The Champaign County Farm Bureau is lucky to have Lynn as a volunteer. Her vast knowledge and passion for agriculture is valuable to our county. Lynn also stays very busy with the Champaign County Farm Bureau. She is the Young Ag Leader committee chair and spearheads the local Illini Farm Toy Show.