RINGGOLD — About five years ago, farmer David Herbst and his family had a big decision to make.
With two of his four children — married with kids of their own — wanting to continue the family business of operating Misty Meadow Farm on the outskirts of Smithsburg, they either needed to drastically increase their dairy production or undertake more custom-crop farming to support everyone.
“We needed to go to 600 cows if we wanted to support these other families,” Herbst said, saying the idea was met with great resistance by his daughter, who handles most of the milking of their 160 cows.
“She wants to know each cow, and if you get too big, you can’t do that,” he said. “So we threw that idea out right away.”
There wasn’t much more land the family could add to the 480 acres they already owned near the intersection of Md. 418 and Md. 64 in Ringgold, so the idea of opening an on-site creamery came to mind in 2007.
And with that, plans to build Misty Meadow Farm Creamery began.
Inside a new building at 14325 Misty Meadow Road, the creamery opened for business Jan. 20 and offers farm-fresh ice cream, milk, eggs and meats.
“It’s fresh-made product,” Herbst said. “A lot of farms make ice cream, but they buy a mix and freeze it. This is right from our cows.”
Making all the ice cream on-site, Herbst and his wife, Betsy, prepare 30 flavors — 24 at any one time in their dipping case — as well as several types of coffee drinks and baked goods.
Betsy was quick to offer customers on a recent Friday a free sample of Cappuccino Crunch or Grammy’s Crumbs ice cream, which were becoming popular draws.
The farm, family-owned and operated since 1918, also hosts tours in the spring and fall. Tours include hayrides, a corn maze and a trip to the family pumpkin patch.
Herbst said they often get busloads of area kindergarten students, as well as groups from Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and churches who come to learn about their crops, farming practices, animals and the ice cream-making process.
“We’re very much focused on ag education,” said Herbst, who admits he and his wife went through some education themselves as they developed their own ice cream recipes.
With the summer months just around the corner, Herbst, who had no prior retail experience, said they’re getting used to operating the new business as his children take over more of the labor-intensive jobs on the farm.
“We’re glad that we got started now,” he said.
The creamery is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 8 p.m. It can be found on Facebook or by calling 301-824-2112.
The Herbsts and their farm were honored as the Small Business of the Year award winner at the Washington County Business Awards on Feb. 29.