In addition to summer’s heat, area residents now have another reason for eating an ice cream cone.
Maryland agricultural officials kicked off the first Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail on Wednesday by visiting three farm-based creameries in the state, including Rocky Point Creamery in Point of Rocks and South Mountain Creamery in Middletown. The trail, supported by the state Department of Agriculture and the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association, highlights Maryland dairy farms producing and selling freshly made ice cream on site.
The initiative is the first of its kind in the nation, according to MDA.
Chuck Fry, owner of Rocky Point Creamery, said the effort will not only help bring more business to the state’s 495 dairy farms, but will also help to educate the public about local dairy farming.
“We’re preserving the Maryland dairy [industry] one scoop at a time,” Fry said. “My objective is to get people here, with that cone in their hand, and get them to get real with their food. [The farm] is where agriculture education happens.”
Chuck’s son, Rick Fry, said, “People need to get back to basics. People are getting very far removed from where they get their food.”
Chuck operates the farm with the help of his son, wife, and other family members, and represents the fourth generation of his family to own the approximately 1,500-acre farm established in 1883. Milk has been produced there since 1952, but the creamery was just opened in March. More than 3,000 scoops of ice cream are dipped each week, made with milk from the farm’s approximately 200 cows, he said.
Seven creameries statewide are participating in the promotion, modeled after the Maryland wine trails.
David Price, a spokesman for South Mountain, said the trail is a great way to promote the “premium ice cream” that the state has to offer.
“You can’t get any better ice cream than what you can get right off the farm...[and] to have this much ice cream coming from [local] farms is a testament to Maryland dairy farmers,” he said.
South Mountain produces approximately 2,100 gallons of milk per day, with it being home delivered, turned into ice cream or used to make cheese.
Trail visitors have until Sept. 7 to collect stamps from each participating creamery to include in a passport for a chance to be named Maryland’s Ice Cream Trail Blazer. Completed passports returned to the MDA by the deadline will be entered into a drawing for the grand prize, which includes a $50 gift certificate to a favorite creamery, a copy of “The Maryland Harvest,” a documentary about Maryland chefs and their partnership with local farmers, and a signed copy of “Dishing up Maryland,” a cookbook by Lucie Snodgrass. Passports are available at participating creameries or online at www.marylandsbest.net.
“It’s a great opportunity for [residents] who may not know that there are other venues [like this] in our state,” Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance said of the contest.
Hance sampled Rocky Point’s “Nutty Buddy” ice cream — named after him — and unofficially announced it as the state flavor during his visit.
With Frederick being one of the top three dairy counties in the state, Colby Ferguson, an agricultural business development specialist with the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, said residents will remember their local ice cream experience when standing in the dairy section of their favorite grocery store.
“I think the more people know where their food comes from and get an appreciation for local [dairy products] they will show their support through their shopping,” he said.
In addition to the passport contest, MDA is also offering a Maryland’s Best Geocaching Ice Cream Trail. Geocaching is a sport in which participants using handheld GPS devices and iPhones to find “caches.” Customers who submit all of the caches to MDA will have the opportunity to win Maryland’s Best geotags developed in conjunction with the Maryland Geocaching Society.
For more information about the contests or the participating farms go to www.marylandsbest.net.