The Ilsley family began hand-milking cows in Weare in the 1920s and moved to a new farm a few miles away in 1933 to take advantage of the innovation of electricity. Flash forward almost a century to the current iteration of The Ilsley Farm where Douglas Ilsley, his wife Heidi and their daughter Lisa are innovating in different ways to keep the family dairy tradition going by diversifying into farm-fresh ice cream and grass-fed beef, among other farm products.
Douglas grew up working with his dad, Allen. When Allen retired and sold his herd, he gave the young stock to his son who gradually built the herd up again on a new piece of land across the street from his childhood farm. The love of farming has definitely shown up in the next generation. Douglas’s daughter Lisa returned to the farm with her dairy management degree and is putting her education to work. The family opened a scoop shop which serves up creative flavors like brown sugar oatmeal, peanut butter brownie and strawberry cheesecake made with their own fresh milk and cream.
Selling their own farm products like beef and ice cream is not only a way to diversify the business, but it also helps the Ilsleys connect with their community. “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,” Lisa explains.