Jeff Green | Jun 19, 2019
Customers haven’t really been screaming, but they have been asking, if Limestone Creamery might consider starting to make their own ice cream using the single source milk that they produce and process on their farm, located on the same property as the farm store at the southern edge of Frontenac County on Sydenham Road.
It is a logical extension for a business that has been following a path that started when Kathie and Francis Groenewegen decided to take transition their traditional dairy farm to an organic farm about 20 years ago. Their business has been evolving ever since, particularly once they began processing and marketing their milk themselves.
They sell their own organic milk at a farm store on their property, deliver it to customers living within a reasonable distance from their house, and extend their reach by selling it through selected stores that are located a bit further away, such as Local Family Farms in Verona.
“Our location, it turned out, was ideal, since we can easily deliver to Kingston and our store is located on a busy commuter road for South Frontenac residents,” said Kathie, as a steady stream of customers shopped for milk, fresh baked goods, and a variety of organic products from other local and regional farmers, bakers, jam makers, and others organic producers.
Everything in the store is available for delivery as well for weekly deliveries to Kingston, parts of South Frontenac and into Stone Mills township.
One of the reasons the Groenewegen’s decided to get into the marketing end of the milk business was to make their operation capable of supporting another generation of farmers, as their children Olivia and Patrick were interested in farming.
When they were building their processing facility, the Groenewegen’s talked to the Frontenac CFDC, and they were able to get a grant to cover half the cost of one of the major pieces of equipment that they needed.
The next big project that they are embarking on is to replace their aging barn with a new, open barn. These modern barns eliminate the need to gather cows twice a day for milking as the cows are able to decide when it is time to be milked. With the aide of a little bit of training and the incentive provided by a little bit of grain (the Groenewegen cattle are 94% grass fed, supplemented by peas and corn that are grown organically on the farm) the cows will be able to control the milking, at the same time making life a little less onerous for the farmers who have been waking up for 5am milking duty for generations. It will also be tied to technology, with the cow’s milk production, body temperature, and other information being monitored every time they come in to be milked.
“It will be good for the animals, which is really important to us,” she said.
The larger barn will also allow the farm to reach its capacity of Holstein and Jersey milking cows.
Ice cream is a bit of a side business, but it is also a response to customer demand, and it has involved the purchase of equipment and the necessary approvals from inspectors, and learning new recipes.
“People love ice cream, of course, and they want to be able to eat some that is made from organic cream and other ingredients that are locally sourced, so we are working with Gorr’s Maple Syrup, Fruition Berry Farm on Hwy. 15, and others to develop recipes. And it tastes pretty good. We hope to have our ice cream available later this summer,” she said.
There are a few others who are hoping for that as well, now that the warm weather has hit the region. Even if they are polite, local food lovers, Limestone Creamery customers are at least silently screaming for ice cream.
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