Note: This article was originally published on August 25, 2015
Sweet treats are made even sweeter when love and care are poured into each bite by passionate local business owners; which is precisely what we encountered this week when we took the trip to Bridgeville, DE to meet the mother-daughter team behind our latest obsession: The Frozen Farmer. What we uncovered was an ingenious utilization of resources, a well-executed dream, plenty of local flavor, and a taste-test that left our bellies happy and our collective sweet tooth satisfied. Meet, The Frozen Farmer!
Located on Seashore Highway in Bridgeville, DE, our morning started at Evans Farms, the parent farm to The Frozen Farmer cold treats line. Evans Farm has been family owned and operated since 1934, eventually adding a roadside wagon for produce and in 2005 a building to house their burgeoning produce market(pictured below). After spending several years helping her husband, Kevin, with the produce market, Katey Evans started to notice a demand for cold, grab-and-go options. “So we started thinking, what’s a cold and refreshing treat for summertime” she said. After some brainstorming, Katey settled on sorbet. “We thought sorbet would be a viable option that the other creameries weren’t offering yet,” she said, adding that sorbet would also serve a dual purpose, as the surplus fruit from the farm could then be utilized in the process. For example, soft peaches that customers don’t want to take home or excess strawberries from a big crop could be used in the sorbet, eliminating unnecessary waste on the farm. Soon, Evans was thinking of ways to incorporate ice cream as well, and with a mom who had made a name for herself locally for her homemade ice cream, it was a natural fit. Evans Farms customers also know ‘Mama Jo’ from her popular recipe suggestions that arrive with the farm’s CSA.
Of course, dreams – even those made of sugar – don’t happen overnight. Katey and her mother, Jo Ellen, spent four years mapping out their business plan and nurturing their idea. Finally, the duo made their first major move, attending Malcolm Stogo’s Ice Cream University to learn the ins and outs of their new business venture. “He is huge all over the world,” said Jo Ellen. “And he really held our hand through the entire process.” In just two days they produced over 30 flavors and revamped their business plan to include a retail location rather than focusing solely on a mobile food truck as they had originally intended. Months of perfecting the recipes, branding, establishing a kitchen and retail space, and getting ready for the season flew by and the duo was finally ready to debut The Frozen Farmer.
So far, the response has been overwhelming, with flavors flying off the truck during events and customers flocking to the farm stand and the retail space (which is located just down the road in the Heritage Shores) to get their fix. Sorbet and ice cream is available of course, but there’s also ‘nice cream’, which is essentially a marriage of the two. Three parts sorbet and one part ice cream, nice cream provides customers with the creaminess of ice cream met with the healthier aspects of the sorbet.
Whether you choose sorbet, ice cream, or nice cream, the product is guaranteed to be made in-house, with real, quality, local ingredients mixed into each and every batch. “We basically take a whole fruit and put it in a cup,” said Jo Ellen, noting that they use as many ingredients from their own farm as they can, sourcing ingredients that they don’t grow or produce themselves from area farms to keep each scoop as local as possible. “The product is derived right from this field to your cup,” added Katey.
“This is the best breakfast ever!” a nearby customer interjected as she devoured her cup of ice cream at the farm stand at just 10:30am. We HAD to get a taste…so we followed Jo Ellen and Katey to their retail space in Heritage Shores.
When asked what her favorite flavor was, Katey noted that with 20 current flavor options, she has about 20 different favorites. “Every time I try a new recipe I say, now THAT’S my favorite,” she joked, and after tasting about ten different flavors ourselves, we could easily see her dilemma. Strawberry-lime sorbet, milk chocolate ice cream, strawberry nice cream, mixed berry nice cream, coffee ice cream, sweet corn ice cream…the sample scoops kept coming and we were NOT complaining. We finally decided on three (generous) scoops of coffee ice cream for our cup, and with real espresso beans blended into each batch, we were buzzing the entire ride home.
Currently, the sky is the limit for The Frozen Farmer, with plans to build a new, larger and more permanent location on the farm for next year. The expanded kitchen space could provide the creative duo with the perfect outlet for bringing their ideas to fruition, including the addition of more flavors, homemade waffle cones, and more products, like an expanded juice line. Currently, fresh-pressed juices and smoothies are available at their Heritage Shores location (along with milkshakes and popsicles) but both Katey and Jo Ellen are eager to expand the options. Of course we couldn’t get enough of the catchy juice names like Orange You Beautiful and Let’s Celery-brate, but the ingredients are the biggest selling point. “We add nothing to our juices so it’s pretty much the whole fruit and vegetable,” said Katey. As for the smoothies and shakes, “we make all of our sorbets and ice creams into smoothies or shakes,” said Jo Ellen. “Our smoothies have the freshest ingredients which isn’t always the case around here.” While it is much more labor intensive to cut up the fruit by hand rather than throwing together powered mixes, their intention has and always will be to use fresh, real ingredients straight from the field to your cup. “Having a premium product is really important to us,” explained Katey.
Of course the family-friendly aspect is always a plus, and with plenty of fresh, real fruit packed into the sorbets, popsicles, juices and smoothies, it’s an excellent way to sneak some healthful options into your child’s diet without them even knowing. Katey also noted that the sorbets have provided a delicious option for lactose intolerant guests, with the sorbet and nice cream providing a healthy option for those who are dieting but still looking to curb their sweet cravings.
So you’re probably wondering where YOU can get a taste. Currently, The Frozen Farmer is available at Evans Farm, at their Heritage Shores location, at farmers markets, and at area events via their ice cream truck. We’ll definitely be seeking them out at the Apple-Scrapple Festival in October; after all, who doesn’t love a massive, refreshing scoop of ice cream or sorbet after devouring a scrapple sandwich?! And all locally sourced! Ice cream, nice cream and sorbet is also available in a wide variety of local grocery stores, including four major chains and close to 50 stores across Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and DC.
With a successful first year (almost) under their belts, an expanding product line, a mobile food truck, and a mountain of ideas, we have no doubt that we will be hearing more from The Frozen Farmer over the next few years. Pick up your own pint and let us know what you think!
And a special thank you again to Jo Ellen and Katey for giving us a crash course in the world of ice cream and sorbet…and for introducing us to nice cream!