From the dairy to the cornet

Gazette Series: Jan Bea making the ice cream Jan Bea making the ice cream

DAIRY farmers Ivor Stafford and Jan Bea have surrendered to their passion for ice cream - and turned it into a business.

The couple have set up a mini "ice creamery" in what was once a bedroom in their farmhouse home in Cowhill near Thornbury.

Last weekend saw the official launch of their new farm enterprise, Jan and Ivor's Farmhouse Ice Cream - so fresh it's virtually "out of the dairy and into the cornet".

"We've both always loved ice cream," said Jan. "There were times during silage making when we just had to have one and we'd nip down to the Post Office in Oldbury - before it closed a few years ago.

"We got the idea of making our own - using good milk from our own Holstein-Friesian cows - last year when we saw a demonstration at a dairy event. We liked the concept, attended more presentations and seminars and finally decided to invest in the equipment.

"It's all Italian and given their world reputation for ice cream that's no bad thing.

Ivor said: "We once toyed with going into cheese making but lots of people were doing it and for various reasons we dropped the idea.

"But ice cream appealed from the start.

"We had no space or suitable buildings on the farm itself so we decided to set up the production unit in the house - in a spare bedroom.

"Hygiene requirements these days are ultra strict and the local authority was very exacting. There were a few delays while we arranged things to their satisfaction but now at last we're up and running. The Ship Inn at Oldbury is our first significant customer - it's on their dessert menu and they're also supplying it retail.

"We already have a long list of flavours - chocolate cherry looks like being a really big hit - and we'll be adding new ones. We also plan to do special desserts, like ice cream cakes, which we'll make to order.

"There's no one else in the local area producing real farmhouse ice cream made with fresh milk so we're confident that other outlets - including pubs and restaurants and, we hope, some shops - will follow shortly.

"It's premium quality ice cream with a high butterfat content and Jan and I reckon it takes some beating. I know we would say that, but bear in mind we have tasted a fair few ice creams in our time."

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