Most kids look forward to ice cream for their birthday, but Lisa Ilsley’s birthday several years ago included a surprise visit to an ice cream stand that would ultimately fulfill her goal of making and selling her own ice cream.
Lisa was finishing up her degree in dairy management and had determined that doing value-added dairy products could help her family stay farming in the town of Weare, where Ilsleys first started hand-milking cows in the 1920s. Her parents, Douglas and Heidi, had heard about an ice cream business for sale and thought that it would make her birthday to go see it.
The Ilsley Farm | Cabot CreameryDouglas grew up working the family farm. Today, he and his wife, Heidi, both hold down off-farm jobs and work with Lisa to manage the milking herd of about 20 cows along with 100 acres of owned and leased cropland. “We call ourselves weekend warriors,” Heidi says.
The Ilsley Farm | Cabot CreameryThey were surprised when their only child decided she wanted to follow the family tradition of agriculture. “She told us, ‘I really want to go into dairy. I really want to remain a farmer,’” Heidi says. Her high school counselor tried to talk her out of it, but Lisa persisted. “She just loves it, and you haven’t worked a day in your life if you love what you do,” Heidi says. “We’ve continued to work hard because we love being together and we love being farmers,” says Lisa. “I enjoy teaching people about food and the importance of local agriculture, and seeing the smile on their faces when they come to the farm.”
The Ilsley Farm | Cabot CreameryLisa managed to pull funds together to buy the ice cream stand business, which included everything from napkins to equipment to two small buildings, and the family trucked it all an hour to Weare. On June 28, 2015 the first scoop went out the window from Ilsley’s Homemade Ice Cream, which is across the street from the farm. Going into its third season, the scoop shop is open mid-May through Columbus Day serving up Lisa’s freshly churned ice cream made from a base that includes milk and cream from the family’s own herd. Creative flavors include brown sugar oatmeal, peanut butter brownie, honey sunflower and raspberry chocolate chunk.
The Ilsley Farm | Cabot CreameryThe Ilsleys and the extended family also sell their own beef, eggs (raised by Lisa’s 90-year-old grandfather) and vegetables, so it’s one-stop shopping for dinner and dessert. Ice cream, of course, is the biggest summertime draw. “Ice cream makes people happy,” says Heidi. “Homemade makes them even happier.”

For more tastes!

For a full weekend (or week… or summer!) of ice cream across the Granite State, check out the NH Ice Cream Trail, which also includes co-op member farm, Sanctuary Dairy Farm in Sunapee.

If you would like to learn more about Cabot Creamery Co-operative, our sustainability initiatives, or some of our 1,000 farm families, click here. You can also sign-up for our Newsletters.


pin it to Pinterest