Tucked away in the quiet rural corner of Weare is Ilsley’s Ice Cream, a little scoop shop that has become a local favorite for families seeking a cold sweet treat on a hot summer day.
Lisa Ilsley’s ice cream store on Sugar Hill Road, situated right across from her family dairy farm, offers customers not only the chance to indulge in delicious homemade treats but also a chance to admire the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
At the store, customers can enjoy a cone, sundae or an ice cream sandwich, all while taking in the picturesque views of cows grazing in the pasture and breathing in the irresistible aroma of freshly baked waffle cones.
For Ilsley, the best part of running the ice cream shop is the people that she meets.
“You obviously make a lot of people happy,” she explains. “This is kind of their family activity to come here and have ice cream.”
With 10 classic flavors and unique options such as grasshopper mint and brown sugar oatmeal, there’s something for everyone.
Every day as she churns ice cream in her little store, Ilsley experiments with new flavors, drawing inspiration from customer suggestions and her own imagination.
A customer-inspired creation is Gold Rush, a blend of chocolate ice cream, cookie dough and caramel swirls.
Beyond just a business, Ilsley’s Ice Cream is a means of supporting the dairy farming industry that has been a part of Ilsley’s life since childhood. Growing up on her family’s dairy farm, she experienced first-hand the challenges and struggles faced by farmers trying to make a living from their land.
To keep her family’s farm going and create her own income, Ilsley studied dairy management.
While she had originally planned to make cheese – a low-cost, low-equipment alternative that would allow her to start small and expand her business gradually – an ice cream business came up for sale nearby, which she couldn’t resist.
Ilsley bought the business and relocated it to the family farm, where she could use fresh, locally sourced dairy products to make homemade ice cream.
Although Ilsley doesn’t use milk from her family’s farm, she sees her ice cream shop as a way to support the broader dairy industry. The milk from her family’s farm is sold wholesale to a facility where it’s pasteurized and turned into ice cream mix, which she buys back to make her ice cream.
“I’m utilizing dairy products and promoting the dairy industry by selling and having everyone love ice cream,” Ilsley said. “That’s where my heart really is.”
While running the ice cream store with her family’s help, Ilsley also does barn chores and milks cows every day.
This is the ninth season for the store and Ilsley plans to add new ice cream sandwich flavors to the menu this season, which were a hit last year.
Ilsley sees herself contributing to the dairy industry and serving homemade ice cream for at least the next five years.
“We like our small little farm-based business,” said Ilsley. “Whether or not we expand, we always planned to leave it right here on the farm.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE ICE CREAM TRAIL
The 2023 New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail, developed by Granite State Dairy Promotion and your local NH dairy farmers, features 42 ice cream shops all across the state. From north, south, east, and west, there isn’t a region left unseen.
Participants who complete the entire trail will receive a complimentary #eatlikeacow sweatshirt and be entered into a grand prize drawing for a chance to win a variety of NH made goodies. “The passport is a fun and unique incentive, and people enjoy the challenge,” said Amy Hall, Director of GSDP.
While the map features everyone’s favorite summertime treat, it’s also equipped with dairy facts, statistics, and information about dairy farming in New Hampshire.
“It’s my hope that trail goers will gain a better understanding of dairy farming, the rapid decline of farms in our state, and the importance of real dairy in their diets. It’s an education piece that consumers need to read and understand,” said Hall.
The New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail is released annually on Memorial Day weekend and can be found at every NH rest area and participating shop. So go ahead, create a day, weekend, or whole summer of fun touring New Hampshire. You may even encounter a dairy cow or two.