MOUNT AIRY — Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder celebrated June being National Dairy Month by visiting Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard, a stop on the 2017 Maryland's Best Ice Cream Trail on Tuesday. Prior to the stop, he visited Rocky Point Creamery in Tuscarora.
"We're kicking off this year's Ice Cream Trail, which stretches across the state and promotes Maryland creameries," Bartenfelder said. "Last year, we had a record number of people who completed the trail. Every year since I've been secretary it's gotten bigger and bigger."
The Maryland's Best Ice Cream Trail includes nine dairy farms that produce and sell ice cream directly to consumers right on the farm. The trail stretches more than 290 miles from Ocean City in the east to Washington County in the west. The purpose of the trail is to highlight the important contributions of Maryland's 414 dairy farms, which accounted for $164 million in sales in 2016, and to increase the public's general understanding of dairy farming.
The 2017 Ice Cream Trailblazer passport is available online at www.marylandsbest.net and will be available at any of the creameries. Anyone who completes their Ice Cream Trail passport by visiting every stop on the trail and answering a question from each creamery before Sept. 25 will have their passport entered into a drawing to be named the 2017 Ice Cream Trail Blazer. The winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to the creamery of his or her choice, a "Maryland Farm & Harvest" DVD, and a "Dishing Up Maryland" cookbook.
"The Ice Cream Trail is a great way to encourage Marylanders to get out and visit a real working farm," Bartenfelder said. "Maryland is home to many outstanding dairy operations, and I challenge all residents to visit at least one of the trail's nine stops this summer."
Mary Fendrick, who is co-owner of Woodbourne Creamery with her husband, John, said she was excited to have Bartenfelder visit the creamery.
"We're pretty small as far as agritourism goes, so it's really nice to see the state supporting small farms," said Fendrick. "Last year was our first full year making ice cream and this is a great way to get publicity."
"We thought it would be a really good program, and it has been," added John Fendrick. "It's a good co-marketing thing."
John Fendrick said the family owns 80 Guernsey cows and milks 30. He said they sell ice cream during the summer and fall to balance milk production and the creamery is a great supplement to their pick-your-own fruit orchard.
Mary Fendrick said the family bought its first Guernsey 17 years ago for their son to show at fairs. As the family grew the herd, they started leasing the cows to other 4-Hers.
"Their milk is pretty special because it's higher in calcium, butterfat and protein than Holstein milk," Mary Fendrick said. "It's good for people with vitamin A deficiencies and those who are lactose intolerant. It also has a golden color because the cows process beta-carotene differently."
John Fendrick said the cows are grassfed, supplemented with grain.
"Guernseys are nice, docile cows," he said. "We built the dairy facility so people can come watch the milking and processing. It's all about being able to see where your food comes from and how the cows are taken care of."
Maryland's Best Ice Cream Trail
•Broom's Bloom Dairy (Harford County)
•Chesapeake Bay Farms (Worcester County — now two locations)
•Keyes Creamery (Harford County)
•Kilby Cream (Cecil County)
•Misty Meadows Farm Creamery (Washington County)
•Prigel Family Creamery (Baltimore County)
•Rocky Point Creamery (Frederick County)
•South Mountain Creamery (Frederick County)
•Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard (Montgomery County)
The 2017 Ice Cream Trailblazer passport is available online at www.marylandsbest.net and will be available at any of the creameries.