Based on the outskirts of Eridge, Lynne’s Organic Farm is renowned for producing excellent soft fruit, pork and eggs. Now they have branched out into making their own ice cream, too. Eileen Leahy caught up with Lynne Curtis, who runs the farm with her partner Jeremy Davis, and got the scoop on their latest organic offering
Why did you decide to start making ice cream?
We came up with the idea this spring. We usually have plenty of spare fruit, and we hate waste, so we were trying to think of other ways of using the fruit. We’ve made ice cream for ourselves for a number of years and thought it may be a popular sideline for our shop.
When did you launch it and how are you promoting it?
As soon as we had some spare soft fruit! This started in June, when our gooseberries were prolific. We started slowly with a few tastings for some of our regular customers and luckily the feedback was very good so we moved forward with producing as much as we could.
Are most of the fruit ingredients you use sourced from your own orchards?
Yes, and all of it is organic. The majority of the soft fruit is no longer in season, but we managed to pick and process a lot for the freezer, so we can continue to make ice cream even though the fruit has finished for this year. We are about to start picking plums and pears, but we need to do some experimenting with those because we have not made ice cream with these two flavours before.
What flavours are in the range – any unusual ones?
We sell strawberry, raspberry, gooseberry, blackcurrant, cherry and blueberry. Even though some of the flavours are very familiar, we believe the taste is different because we’re using fresh fruit rather than flavourings. Gooseberry and blackcurrant are slightly unusual but they tend to be the most popular. In the winter, I’ll probably experiment with additional flavours.
How did you decide upon the different flavours?
Simple: We’ll experiment with any spare fruit to see if it makes good ice cream!
Where do you source the other ingredients from?
The eggs are from our hens, but unfortunately we don’t produce our own milk or cream so these need to be sourced from commercial organic suppliers – and we are always on the lookout for a local organic one…
Are there any downsides to running a farm and your own business?
Not really. The summers are always very, very busy so it’s impossible to take a break, but when you can do something you enjoy it’s not the end of the world. You just have to take advantage of the shorter days during the winter.
As well as ice cream, what else do you sell in your farm shop?
Everything we stock, including the fruit, vegetables, pork and eggs, is produced on our land – we won’t sell anything that isn’t. We often make honey-roast ham for the farm shop, too, and I also make carrot cake to order, which is made with our own carrots. I am actually expanding our range of cakes when we get into the autumn, and some of these will include wheat-free ones, such as a ground almond chocolate cake. I get plenty of practice experimenting as my partner Jeremy is allergic to all grain flours. I am also hoping we will have our own honey to sell in the shop next year, which will probably mean honey ice cream will follow!
You’re now working on the farm full time, so how does this differ from your previous career in healthcare?
It is very different. I was previously a clinical project manager in charge of running trials, and I also have a background in nursing. But I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, so it’s now great to be doing this and to be outside – and not sitting at a desk.
Do you find that you are busier than ever these days because you are your own boss?
Farming is more than a full-time job, there is always something to do. We have never-ending lists of jobs to sort out!
If you could sum up your new ice creams in three words, what would they be?
Naturally indulgent treat.
Lynne’s Organic Farm’s ice creams are priced at £2.50 a pot, and are made from totally organic ingredients sourced mainly from the farm.
For more information visit www.lynnesorganicfarm.org