the weekly newsletter from Dr Ruth Weeks, Headmistress
Students Get the Scoop on Luxury Icecream Industry
20 September 2013
On Tuesday this week, a group of Year 11 and A Level Home Economics students visited a local ice cream farm to discover how ice cream is made and the different and complex processes that are involved in creating your own food product.
Churchfields Farmhouse Ice Cream is a nine year old company run by a family of farmers who have been in Droitwich for 100 years this year. Originally, the family only owned 45 acres; now this has expanded to 350. The ice cream company's pedigree-herd of 150 Holstein Friesians is milked three times a day. When we visited we were able to see a group of nine cows being milked and then follow this milk through the processes to be churned into vanilla ice cream.
We first were able to look around the farm. This included stroking some two day old calves, walking through some of their fields, fresh blackberry tasting and looking at their orchard. As this company is very environmentally friendly and insists on sourcing many of their ingredients locally - like their plums from the local village and collecting gooseberries from Hanbury Hall to then be sold back to the property for visitors - it was interesting to see their commitment to encouraging a more sustainable environment.
The orchard that they have recently developed had to be carefully selected for certain varieties of pears, apples, plums and damsons to help keep these local and traditional fruits available. They also carry this through into their ice cream by creating seasonal flavours like Worcestershire Plum, Christmas Pudding and Spiced Fig, to name but a few. They sell to many areas of the food industry, including the Co-Op, pubs and restaurants, farm shops and tourist attractions. You can also find them selling at food shows, music festivals and on every summer day (for example, this summer their sales rose by 80% compared to those during the miserable weather of last summer).
We learned how publicity and marketing is also a key aspect to the success of any food product. We were shown the different vehicles they sell their products from, including vans, bicycles, roller freezers, baskets and many more, which we were told are very popular for weddings and celebration events. Churchfields promote their business by selling flags, posters, swing-boards and information leaflets, but also by using networking sites like twitter and facebook to be able to contact and be found easily by customers. When they released their stilton ice cream there were many newspapers interested in the story of this small family business, which helped publicise their products to a much wider audience.
Once we had finished our tour of the farm, we were able to follow the process of the milk being turned into fresh ice cream. The collected milk is transported to the dairy room where it is pasteurised to 80 degrees centigrade to kill all the bacteria. Churchfields does not use preservatives or artificial colours and all products are fully traceable to local sources like the double cream it is mixed with to make it lovely and thick. This ice cream company has an amazing range of flavours as they are able to experiment and try different combinations, including their award winning Orange and Grand Marnier, Cookies and Clotted Cream, Midnight Mint and Honeycomb Heaven, flavours we were very excited to get the chance to sample.
Once we had seen the actual process of making their delicious ice cream we learnt about what else makes Churchfields a successful business: efficient time management, being cost effective and producing as little wastage as possible. After taking some samples back with us, we all would definitely recommend their ice cream and hope that many others have been encouraged to buy some of their amazing products.