Back in 2009, nine-year-old Beck Johnson of Sunapee, New Hampshire had a dream. Like lots of kids, he dreamt of ice cream—but in this case, he wanted to make it, not just eat it. The young man—the tenth generation farming land they first settled in the 1760s—and his sister, Maranda, became known locally as “The Ice Cream Kids.” Beck earned an Ice Cream University certificate from Penn State and the family traveled to Italy to learn from the masters themselves. The Sanctuary Farm ice cream stand and its youthful founding visionary earned lots of publicity everywhere from the local paper to the Associated Press. “I really like seeing happy people enjoying their experience here,” Beck told the Eagle Times newspaper in 2014.
Sanctuary Dairy Farm | Cabot Creamery
After building a successful business, Beck is about to start college but he and his family will continue the solar-powered ice cream stand he has built over the years. It now offers a wide range of frozen treats including hard ice cream, gelato, soft-serve and sorbet. The dairy recipes start with a base made with regional milk and cream and the Johnsons buy fresh fruit and other ingredients from local farmers as much as possible. Favorite flavors include Apple Pie made with chunks of locally baked Beaver Pond apple pie; Blueberry made with fruit from Bartlett’s Farm; and Maple Cream-Maple Candy-Fudge made with real New Hampshire maple syrup, chunks of maple candy and generous swirls of homemade fudge.
Sanctuary Dairy Farm | Cabot Creamery
As if the ice cream itself is not enough of a draw, there is always a menagerie of animals like goats and donkeys to visit and feed, games like horse shoes set up for old-fashioned family fun and hiking trails throughout the conserved acreage of the dairy farm just 1/3 of a mile down the road. “The core of this family business is to provide a gathering place for families young and old to enjoy life’s simple pleasures,” says Susan Johnson. In 2012, driven by Beck’s interest, the family installed a solar panel system that provides sustainable energy to the entire operation. For this, among other accomplishments, Sanctuary Farm was named New Hampshire Dairy Farm of the Year in 2016.
Sanctuary Dairy Farm | Cabot Creamery
Along with their dairy farm and year-round ice cream stand, the Johnsons run a veterinarian practice next door to the family’s home. The Johnson’s son Jared and nephew, Ethan Johnson, manage the farm on a daily basis, while Dr. Jolyon Johnson and his wife, Susan, run the veterinary clinic and help out on the farm as needed. The family is also trained in wildlife rehabilitation and, over the years, Dr. Johnson says, they have helped animals ranging from turtles and blue herons to foxes and orphaned fawns.
Sanctuary Dairy Farm | Cabot Creamery
Recently, Jared shared via Facebook that he was on the way to the hayfield and found a long-lived survivor of the family’s work. The turtle’s shell still showed the fiberglass seam where the Johnsons had repaired it after an unfortunate encounter with a car. “It’s still alive and kicking!” wrote Jared happily.
Sanctuary Dairy Farm | Cabot Creamery

More about Sanctuary Farm’s delicious, freshly churned ice cream here and on Facebook.

We all scream for…
If you’re not in the Sunapee area and are craving freshly churned ice cream, here are a few recipes you can try at home. (You don’t even need an ice cream machine for the first one!)

This quick strawberry froyo can be made in a food processor!
Strawberry "Ice Cream"
Unusual and surprisingly delicious: Caramel Apple & Cheddar Ice Cream.
Caramel Apple & Cheddar Ice Cream
A chocolate-lover’s delight: Greek Yogurt Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate & Ginger
Greek Yogurt Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate & Ginger

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.


Melissa Pasanen is an award-winning Vermont-based journalist and cookbook author with a focus on food, farming, and sustainability. She was the writer for The Cabot Creamery Cookbook (Oxmoor House, 2015).

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