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From Creamery to Cone

Aug 04, 2018 12:00AM

By Rita Calvert

Agriculture remains one of Maryland’s top industries but the dairy industry has suffered due to low milk prices and high production costs that threaten the sustainability of the dairy farms.

Mention ice cream and eyes light up. Mention Ice Cream Trail...complete with the cows who give the milk, and you have a proven pastoral road trip winner. We’re not talking about just selling ice cream. We’re talking about making ice cream from the cream called the creamline with dairy cows just outside the door. Enter, Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail, which was conceived in 2012. That’s when Maryland became the first and only state with an on-farm creamery ice cream trail. It’s meant to give a boost to the state’s dairy industry, which has struggled in recent years. The ice cream trail now has other states wondering, “Hey, why didn’t I think of that?” Thousands of Marylanders take to the trail each season, which runs from the end of May to well into September. Hundreds actually finish the trail, which makes them eligible to turn in their stamped passports and win a gift certificate to a creamery of their choice. The passport brochure asks a few trivia questions, which are important to just get people familiar with how a farm works.

Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail includes nine of its own fresh dairy farms that make some top-notch ice cream at their own creameries. In fact, the creameries, in order to qualify, must be part of a dairy farm and they must produce, sell, scoop, or package ice cream on site. This requires an ice cream manufacturing set-up as well as at least a small retail space. One Maryland dairy farm in the program even has a robotic milker that visitors can watch. 

Agriculture remains one of Maryland’s top industries, but the dairy industry has suffered due to low milk prices and high production costs that threaten the sustainability of the dairy farms. Dairy farmers face a difficult future because of this. For many, it’s not just a business; as with many of the dairies you’ll read about, it’s family heritage. 

Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard

28600 Ridge Rd, Mt. Airy, MD, 21771 

John and Mary Fendrick were originally city-folk in the IT field who gave up their small farm in Germantown when they learned Rock Hill Orchard was up for sale. They bought the orchard and retained it with a 60 percent of the fruit in “you-pick.” They kept the original name of their herd, Woodbourne Creamery, so the herd still has identity to established customers.

Being Montgomery County’s only “Cow to Cone” ice cream shop and dairy, their Guernsey cows eat grass year-round and are milked by a robot on the cows’ schedule. The milk is pasteurized and made into an ice cream mix at their dairy, then goes down the hill to sell in the farm market, which is just off the busy Route 27. Scoop ice cream is available at the market as well as quarts of ice cream along with fruits from their orchard and produce from their vegetable fields. In the winter of 2018, the Fendricks added a takeout window at the milking parlor for ice cream.

Nothing extra added in, the milk isn’t even homogenized or separated, so they only sell creamline milk and creamline chocolate milk. Their mission is to provide clean, healthy, locally grown and safe fruit, vegetable, and dairy products to the local community and within the surrounding area. Their animals are raised humanely in an environmentally sound manner.

A cow being milked through The Voluntary Milking System (VMS and the processing room. >

They strive to educate consumers about the health benefits of 100 percent grass-fed milk and beef products. In fact, the Fendricks were the first grassfed dairy in North America to put in robotic milking. 

When you visit Woodbourne, be sure to watch the robotic milker in action: as each cow walks into the milking stall, a laser-guided robotic arm whirrs into place. It locates each teat, cleans it and attaches a milking tube. A sensor checks the milk for contamination and automatically spits out any rejects. When the flow of milk slows down, the machine is programmed to stop, detach the tubes and send the cow on its way. “The cows really seem to like it,” says Stone Slate of Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Maryland’s Best. “They get a treat before going in and automatically get their back brushed while giving milk. It’s their form of a massage. Some cow gals even try to sneak in twice.”

Prigel Family’s Creamery

4852 Long Green Road, Glen Arm, MD 21057

Slightly north of Baltimore is a creamery which prides itself on its organic dairy products. The Prigel family has been farming in the Long Green Valley for more than 100 years and five generations. Prigel Family Creamery processes milk from Bellevale Farm (run by three generations of Prigels) into fresh, nutrient-dense dairy foods from cows that graze on grass grown from organically balanced soils and fed and sustained with holistic remedies, not antibiotics or synthetic hormones, for better health. “We are a 100 percent grass-based dairy (no grains),” says Bobby Prigel, owner and manager of Prigel Family Creamery Inc. “We move our cattle constantly, so they’re not overgrazing. They go in just like a herd of wild beasts. They go in, they eat, and they move. What we are doing is trying to simulate nature.”

At Prigel’s, you can enjoy an ice cream by the cone or cup, milkshake, ice cream sandwich, float, or sundae and spend time with the contented cows. Some folks think of the Creamery as their local ice cream spot. Take along a cooler, since the on-site shop, adjacent to the creamery operations and the family’s dairy farm, also sells their milk, meat, and yogurt.

Kilby Cream

129 Strohmaier Lane, Rising Sun, MD 21911

The Kilbys have been dairy farmers for more than 100 years focusing on local, fresh milk that’s made from as little processing as possible. They strive to keep consumers educated about rural farming and the importance of local businesses. They started making ice cream in 2005 and offer such flavors as Holstein Cream, Udderly Chocolate and Mint Mookie. The farm produces ice cream “from cow to cone” in two days. They have a growing home delivery business and a busy ice cream shop. The ice cream store participates in agritourism events that show the public where their food comes from.

The Kilby Ice Cream Shop is located on one of their farms just outside of Rising Sun, where you can enjoy ice cream, shakes, sundaes, smoothies, blended ice coffee, drinks, and more. There’s even a playground and farm-petting zoo to keep the kids entertained. The retail store also sells their bottled milk, flowers, hanging baskets, Kilby pork, Kilby beef, and an assortment of snacks and drinks.

South Mountain Creamery

8305 Bolivar Road, Middletown, MD 21769 

Located in the heart of the Civil War Heritage area, the sustainable South Mountain Creamery is open 365 days a year with their cows milked 50 feet away from the production plant. 

“Our cows spend their days on pasture,” South Mountain states on its website. “Fresh air, sunlight, and endless grass is provided for them. They also come and go as they please from their free stall barn, where they can get comfortable out of the weather. In addition to grazing, we feed them a nutritious mix of the crops we grow ourselves.”

Being in the delivery business since 2001, the creamery likes to think they are the return of the milkman. Their farm store sells products to those local customers that don’t have their delivery service yet.

All of South Mountain’s delicious snacks, drinks, and ice cream are available at on-property, Karen’s Kountry Store. 

Rocky Point Creamery

4323 Tuscarora Road, Tuscarora, MD 21790

Take a drive through the back roads along the Potomac River near the C&O Canal at Point of Rocks to experience some of Maryland’s most beautiful farm country. The Fry family is hard at work on the farm milking healthy cows and mixing flavorful recipes just to bring their customers the highest quality ice cream along with an old-fashioned farm experience. This 175- acre farm has been owned and operated by the Fry Family since 1883. In 2011, they opened the creamery using green building techniques.

You can purchase their own pasture raised Angus Cross Beef along with ice cream and toppings in their sprawling country store or just enjoy sitting at a picnic table on a shaded wrap around porch.

Broom’s Bloom Dairy

1700 S. Fountain Green Road (MD 543), Bel Air, MD 21015  

This award-winning dairy is best enjoyed with a view of the cows who contributed at this friendly, family-owned country cafe in idyllic rural Harford County. 

Broom’s Bloom has an interesting mix of ancestral history and new beginnings. The Dallam family farm and house date back to the early 1700s and is now operated by the family’s ninth generation. The farm is named after the colonial land grant for the area. In 1997, David and Kate Dallam started milking 65 cows on the farm and even more recently, they started making and selling old-fashioned ice cream along with other local food offerings.

The dairy sells their 100 ice cream flavors, usually serving 12 to 18 at any given time. The 30-seat cafe also serves homemade lunches, while the adjacent store sells Broom’s own artisan cheese and pork sausage, along with locally produced lamb, beef, free-range eggs, and seasonal vegetables. In August or September, you can also wander through the lovely golden sunflower fields in full bloom.

Keyes Creamery

3712 Aldino Road (Entrance on Hopewell Road), Aberdeen, MD 21001 

After tragically losing his father, David Keyes took over the family business at Mt. Felix Farm. It overlooks Havre de Grace and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Keyes Creamery cheeses were launched when a breakdown in milk processing equipment drove them to send the 500 gallons of milk to an Amish farmer. 

The animals are all bred and hand-raised on the farm, where their feed is raised as well. The milk is either sent to Pennsylvania to be made into high-quality, flavorful Keyes cheese, or to David and his wife Kelly’s farm in Aberdeen, Maryland, where their daughter Megan runs the family-owned creamery and creates premium, Keyes ice cream. 

At their new creamery, ice cream is hand-mixed weekly on site and is hand-dipped for serving. Quarts and pints are available to take home as well as handmade cheese, and delicious and beautifully decorated ice cream cakes and pies. You can also visit the grazing cows and horses on the farm.

Misty Meadows Farm Creamery

14325 Misty Meadow Road, Smithsburg, MD 21783 

Misty Meadow Farm began with David Herbst’s grandfather in 1918, and he has recently turned the farm over to his own children.

“We’re kind of unique because we start with the seeds we put in the soil and grow the crops and feed it to our cows,” Herbst said. “Then we take the milk and make the products. We pasteurize the milk, make our own ice cream mix, and everything’s done right here. Everything that we sell comes from the local people and it goes back into the local economy. It stays right here. So, we just turn our money over and spend it over and over again right here in the community.”

This rural setting is a true destination with lots of family activities such as hay rides, tractor playground, pedal powered tractors, a petting zoo with sheep, cows, mini horses, bunnies, and more. The store sells ice cream, of course, and their creamline milk and cheddar cheese curds in six flavors. The cafe offers soups, sandwiches, and beverages including coffee and cappuccino. Visit the true country store with handmade quilts, children’s items, local made maple syrup, handmade brooms, and scarves.

Chesapeake Bay Farms

8905 Logtown Road, Berlin, MD 21811
4111 Whitesburg Road, Pocomoke, MD 21851
 

“We produce about 10,000 pounds of milk a day,” explains Laura Holland about their milk that is transformed into one of dozens of flavors of sweet, creamy ice cream. 

“Cow to cone, we make the milk here,” says Laura’s husband Danny. “It goes right to the plant and we make the ice cream fresh.” 

Come meet the herd that produces the milk for all of Chesapeake Bay Farms’ fresh dairy products and enjoy their hand-dipped ice cream right on the farm in the bucolic setting. Retail stores in Pocomoke and Berlin also serve all of Chesapeake Bay Farms homemade products including a wide variety of artesian cheeses and fresh hand-stretched mozzarella, along with fresh milk, butter, eggs, and more. You can visit the cows or make an appointment to take a tour of the farm’s processing center.