Have you ever tasted freshly made ice cream, straight from the churn? Maybe a loved one crafted a special frozen treat for you during the hottest months of summer, a treat that was then eagerly devoured. These sweet treats were typically made with love and care, using ingredients like the family cow’s fresh cream, the golden egg yolks from backyard hens, and a handful of the ripest, sun-kissed berries from the garden.
For many of us, these old-fashioned ice cream recipes were the height of summertime bliss, remembered fondly for many years, and only dimly echoed in the frozen food aisles of today’s grocery store. Those cherished memories can now be relived, thanks to a visit to Montana’s newest hot spot for cool treats — the Farm-to-Table Ice Cream company, which opened for business in spring of 2018 in the Flathead Valley.
What started as a vision to recreate the legendary ice cream of yesteryear now has vanilla bean, chocolate and the fresh fruit ice cream flavors you remember, alongside a variety of delicious experimental flavors that are sure to become new favorites. Sample a scoop of salted caramel ice cream with crunchy pretzel bites for a unique taste sensation. Or, maybe a rich and spicy Mayan Chocolate is more your speed. Whatever your taste buds crave, Farm-to-Table Ice Cream has you covered.
The secret to these sensational flavors is in the ingredients fresh from the farm. The company was founded on a promise to use only the best locally produced milk, cream and eggs to craft their decadent treats. These fine ingredients are carefully chosen from family-owned farms in northwest Montana, using strict quality controls to ensure that the result is pure ice cream perfection, every time.
“As a farming family, we know the quality and value of a farm fresh product,” explains Jerran Dolan, owner of Farm-to-Table Ice Cream. “We wanted to harness the amazing flavors of fresh cream, free-range eggs and locally grown produce, to create a line of ice creams that take you back to your grandma’s farm with the first taste.”
The Dolan family hasn’t always been in the business of crafting sweet treats, but Farm-to-Table Ice Cream is the glowing result of many years’ experience in farming and food production. They began their journey into sustainable food production first as farmers, then later branching out into the restaurant business. Farm-to-Table Ice Cream is the culmination of these experiences. It is also, in many ways, a return to the Dolans’ first love affair with sustainable farming, which began with a milk cow named “Bella.”
“When we were first married, we took an experimental leap and bought a family milk cow, to begin our foray into sustainable food production. Bella was very gracious and patient as our family learned how to maintain and milk a dairy cow,” Jerran recalls, laughing. “She really launched our lifelong farming adventure and taught us how to feed our family in the healthiest way possible. Our experience keeping a family milk cow set the stage for the vision that is the Farm-to-Table Ice Cream Company. The delicious ice cream we made from her milk and cream is a memory which has lingered with us all these years. Now, we’re ready to share that with the community.”
Although Bella the Jersey cow is no longer a part of the Dolan family, her gentle presence lives on in the Dolans’ love for the quiet rhythms of a life revolving around dairy cows. This longstanding symbiotic relationship with the gentle bovines of the dairy world will be incorporated into the Farm-to-Table Ice Cream operation at a later date, as a planned expansion for the business.
“We’ve now been keeping milk cows for over a decade,” Jerran says. “Our plan, ultimately, is to build our own small-scale, Grade A dairy and creamery for Farm-to-Table Ice Cream. We plan to produce our own milk and cream and provide a fun experience for our customers. They will be able to meet the cows who provide the ingredients for our sweet treats, and the ingredients will be as local as you can get. The fresh milk and cream our cows produce in the morning will become your favorite ice cream flavor by that same evening, providing a truly fresh, farm-to-table experience.”
While the design and creation of a dedicated dairy facility is on the horizon, that hasn’t prevented the Dolans from acquiring the best local ingredients for their products in the meantime. “We won’t be producing our own dairy products right away, but we will begin with the next best thing. We have partnered with Kalispell Kreamery, our community’s local family-owned dairy, to provide milk and cream for Farm-to-Table Ice Cream,” Jerran says. “We love the quality of their non-homogenized cream-on-top products and feel good about their farming ethics. The cows are treated with kindness, which is reflected in the high quality, fresh milk and cream they provide to our community. Until we are able to build our own facility, this partnership aligns perfectly with our mission to provide beautiful ice cream using only the best local ingredients.”
Jerran, her husband Dave, and five of their children operate Farm-to-Table Ice Cream. The company headquarters are located in Lakeside, Montana, and business will open with a mobile concession trailer, which will offer frozen desserts at a variety of events around the valley. Additionally, distribution of hand-picked ice cream varieties will extend throughout Montana’s Flathead Valley, with the products available to be purchased from the area’s health food and grocery stores.
“We believe that the future of food is local, fresh and sustainable,” Dave Dolan says. “With farmers’ markets and small-scale family farms popping up all around Montana, we wanted to offer a dessert that is as fresh and local as the salad greens you bought from the neighborhood farm stand down the road. That’s what motivates us, and we know that our customers will share that passion, as soon as they try our ice cream.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION about distribution, upcoming events and launch details, visit Farm-to-Table Ice Cream online at www.FarmToTableIceCream.org.