Last year I was an apprentice in Lowcountry Local First’s “Growing New Farmers Program.” In the course of 8 months I worked on two farms – Thornhill Farms in Mclellanville, SC with farmer Maria Baldwin and Rosebank Farms with farmer Sidi Limehouse. Upon completion of the program I intended to go into the Peace Corps. Having received my nomination for an agricultural project in Central or South America, I had hoped to finish those 27 months and pursue Agricultural Development in graduate school. Instead I chose to make ice cream.
The story becomes cheesier the more I tell it, but it was while I was working on Thornhill Farms the idea of ROOTS was born. Maria takes very good care of her soil and in turn her produce is known for an incredible natural sweetness. Her strawberries are the best strawberries you can get. It was during the first harvest of spring sweet peas that the idea behind ROOTS was..well..rooted.
I had never tasted a sweet pea freshly picked and then eaten while standing in the middle of a farm. Having tasted the sweet pea I immediately thought it would taste great with a little cream and sugar. It became the running joke on the farm – Sweet Pea Ice Cream – how many other wacky flavors could we come up with? Beets, Berries, Figs, Melons, Sweet Potatoes, Muscadines, Butternut Squash. Our Farm Manager, Meg Moore, brought in Carrot-Ginger soup for lunch one day – it was added to the list of ongoing flavors. Evolving further, what if the ice cream company had a functional farm where everything grown on the farm is used in the ice cream?
And here we are 11 months later. Our opening date set for April 9th 2011 at the Downtown Farmer’s Market. 11 months of brainstorming, entrepreneurship courses, a trip to Penn State for their Ice Cream Short Course, and of course, countless experiments in the kitchen – rarely successful, often humbling. Over time our recipe was hammered out and crafted to what will be on display come the 9th. We are hopeful it will be enjoyed just half as much as the time we have put into it. Thanks to all who have supported us along the way (your “Official Taste Tester” shirts are next on the agenda) and especially Lowcountry Local First because without them we would not be where we are right now and I would not be writing this. Thanks again – and we will see you April 9th!