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Snoqualmie Ice Cream: Mini-farm fresh

Aug 1st, 2012 | By | Category: Community, Food

by Samantha Schuller

If there’s one lesson to be learned from the demo gardens at the Snoqualmie Ice Cream mini-farm, it’s that an acre and a half can do a lot.

The ice cream plant's mini farm includes raised beds, fruit trees and chickens, all providing ingredients. COURTESY PHOTO

Completed this year, the mini-farm is full of raised beds, fruit trees, and a chicken coop that will house up to 300 birds. The beds will grow the ice cream’s fresh ingredients like lavender, sour cherries, and huckleberries. The chickens, in addition to eating kitchen scraps and food waste, will provide the eggs needed for custard and baked goods.

While the mini-farm is new this year, a low-impact mindset is par for the course at Snoqualmie Ice Cream. Owners Barry and Shanhaz Bettinger, who bought the company in 1997, have spent the last 15 years making strides toward sustainability, starting with local sourcing and going as far as the solar panels they affixed to their new plant in 2005.

Barry grew up on New York farmland in the pre-organic certification days, when his farmer dad did things the old-fashioned way and was known simply as a conservationist. That mindset comes naturally to Barry, who said Snoqualmie Ice Cream would be taking low-impact steps whether consumer demand for products was high or not. Still, the Bettingers are pleased that their core values resonate with so many consumers these days, and point to keeping up with growth as their biggest challenge.

The original ice cream plant was in a standard industrial building in Lynwood. When the Bettingers began to grow out of that building, they decided to start from scratch, building the low-impact operation of their dreams. They bought a single-family home in Maltby with enough land to accommodate a café, ice cream plant, and  small farm. The existing home was converted into the café with an emphasis on using as much of the original structure as possible. The Bettingers developed the plans for the new plant by working closely with the Snohomish County Sustainable Task Force (www.sustainablesnohomishcounty.net), assisted by the Snohomish County PUD. The final result includes pervious concrete, solar panels, green roof, rain gardens, a bio-filtration swale, and energy efficient windows and lighting. The functional layout of the plant’s machinery minimizes energy needs for compressors and pasteurizers, an effort Barry brought his years of expertise in the dairy industry to.

Pints of ice cream.

The Bettingers see much of the work they’ve put into pursuing a sustainable enterprise as a win-win. The air-cooler they designed as a part of their low-impact Maltby building is not only environmentally responsible, but its 200-gallon-a-day water savings makes financial sense as well. Local sourcing serves important functions also including resource conservation in minimizing transportation and the superior flavor of just-harvested, fresh ingredients.

In 2013, they plan to add beehives to pollinate their orchard trees and provide honey for the ice cream. Barry added that sustainability has to be a daily mindset, not an obligation to fulfill. “We have always done business this way, not just because it’s getting popular, but because it’s just the right way to manage resources.”

Snoqualmie Ice Cream is located at 21106 86th Ave SE in Maltby, or visit www.snoqualmieicecream.com for more information. On Aug. 11, the 2nd annual Snoqualmie Ice Cream-O-Rama will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and includes free ice cream and hot dogs, music and dancing, face painting, drinks and donuts from Top Pot Doughnuts, and a tour of the facility and farm.

This article was published in the August 2012 issue of Grow Northwest magazine.

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