A sunny August afternoon lured us out again for some more ice cream -- this time we decided to drive out to northern Baltimore County and Harford County MD, to Broom's Bloom Dairy and Prigel Family Creamery respectively.
About a decade ago, Maryland dairy farmers came up with a creative – and delicious – plan to improve income on their farms: opening cow-to-cone creameries. Or rather, on-site ice cream (and other dairy product) shops.
Maryland's Best Ice Cream Trail now includes 10 dairy farms with active creameries. Several, including the two we visited this time, offer lunchtime fare (simple soups and sandwiches), groceries, and other farmers market items.
In the past decades, the number of dairy farms in Maryland has declined, and current ones faced challenges due to urban sprawl. Making and selling fresh ice cream is one way to promote and add value to their product. The profits from the ice cream trail have already helped some farmers with operation bills and business in general.
Also, cool fact: Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail at the time of its inception was the only farm-based ice cream trail in the country -- now many other states have followed this tasty trend!
As we drove to Prigel's Family Creamery, we passed numerous beautiful old homes and estates before hitting farmland -- it was an interesting drive (we took back roads of course, eschewing I-83, I-95, I-695, and the like.
As soon as we parked we spotted the gorgeous bovines -- either Brown Swiss or Jersey I believe (not that I'm anything but a google expert). I took photos like I'd never seen a cow before, but at least I wasn't alone. Kids enjoyed seeing these gorgeous light brown cows with their huge brown eyes.
We went inside and quickly got our ice cream -- vanilla brownie with caramel topping in a waffle cone for me, mint chocolate chip in a waffle cone for him. Prigel's also offers a variety of other locally sourced pantry items, such as honey, cheeses, and so forth.
Picnic tables surrounding the creamery under trees offered views of the cows (plus, it was milking time, and they gathered near the tables -- cows are surprisingly big animals. A friendly chicken free-ranged around the table, visiting with the guests and looking for dropped bits of waffle cone, I imagine.
Getting there: 4852 Long Green Rd, Glen Arm. MD
Next we headed to Broom's Bloom Dairy. The dairy's name originates from the colonial land grant for the area along with the original owner of the land, John Broom. The ‘Bloom’ refers to crops flourishing and providing for the tenants, hence the name, “Broom’s Bloom Dairy." In 1997, David and Kate Dallam started milking 65 cows on the farm and even more recently they started making and selling old fashioned ice cream, farmstead cheese and pork sausage.
Although we didn't get to see cows, we were treated to friendly picnic area, with multiple tables and even a corn hole game, a lawn game in which players take turns throwing 16 ounce bags of corn kernels at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A corn field bordered the creamery.
Over the years since the creamery has opened, it has offered more than a 100 different flavors, but at any given time, only 12-18 are served at a time. If your favorite flavor isn't on the list, come back again -- the flavors vary daily. For us on this visit, we grabbed strawberry chocolate chip in a waffle cone for me, mint chocolate chip cookie dough smothered in hot fudge sauce in a bowl for him. Pro tip: this is right off of I-95 (Exit 80/MD543), so an easy rest stop on a trip along that crowded highway.
Getting there: 1700 South Fountain Green Road, Bel Air, MD
Know before you go: Be sure to check creameries’ websites and social media pages for the most up-to-date hours of operation and for current safety and public health guidelines.