In the ice cream world we live in, we have found that the old adage holds true, “if you want something done right, then you should do it yourself.” So, we Sisters created a 75-acre berry farm, located in Shelburne, VT where we grow the main flavor elements, process the crops and make the ice cream. Our crops include over 30,000 row feet of blueberries, red raspberries, yellow raspberries, blackberries, Aronia berries, elderberries, and Marquette grapes. In 2021, these plants produced a whopping 40,000 plus pounds of fruit with much more production anticipated in the coming years as our plants mature.
While we built the farm with ice cream flavors top of mind, we now have sufficient production to sell fruit to other premium value-added producers and restaurants throughout New England. These include Allagash, Foam Brewers, Stowe Cider, and Skinny Pancake, among others.
Here at Sisters of Anarchy Ice Cream we totally appreciate Mother Earth, who is the ultimate Sister Resister and provides us with everything we need. Think about it…everything that we use as humans is either grown in or dug out of Her ground.
This is why we focus on sustainable practices and being good stewards of what She has provided us. Keep reading to learn a little more about our farm’s sustainability practices.
Cover Cropping – In our first three years, we planted deep root radishes, buckwheat, winter rye, and clover as cover crops. The radishes break up compacted soil, while the other three acted is nitrogen-fixing crops to restore soil health.
Pine Bark Mulching – We apply pine mulch each year to suppress weeds, increase organic matter in soil, and increase soil acid levels (which our berries love!). Seven years into this process, our soil requires almost no additional amendments
Integrated Pest Management – IPM serves as a core tenet of our farming practices and includes:
-Area netting for non-chemical pest control.
-Cutting undergrowth and use of sod grass inhibits the ability of pests to hide in the plants.
-Squawking machines and blow up “scarecrows” to deter birds and other animals.
-Sophisticated trellis systems help manage bramble plants and also support our netting system.
-Daily fruit picking to avoid rotting berries, which can attract a variety of large and small pests.
-Farm dog Bob Marley for rodent and rabbit control. The dog has free rein on the farm, loves ice cream and is really cute!
-Efficiency in energy, nutrient, and water use
-Drain tile to store water and avoid evaporation, along with irrigating crops from an irrigation pond on the farm.
-Full irrigation and fertigation to efficiently deliver and avoid excess usage of water, nutrients, and other inputs.
-Zero post-harvest waste by freezing berries that we pick nearly daily.
-Freezing berries using dry ice with only 1/10 of the electrical usage as traditional refrigeration equipment, we are able to minimize our energy usage.
-Full solar installation
-Constant research and experimentation with potential methods for sustainable farming methods