29 Mar 2024

From cow to cone - a big scoop from Nelson

From Country Life, 7:40 pm on 29 March 2024
Appleby Farms

Murray King, Kristy Giles and Peter Findlay from Appleby Farms with some tubs of ice cream Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Milk from Murray King's farm on the lower Waimea River flats is crafted into award-winning ice cream.

"We had to find a way of generating better income than we would by producing whole milk powder with the major dairy companies," he said.

The third-generation farmer wanted his small dairy farm, which is surrounded by horticulture and lifestyle blocks, to remain economically viable, so he co-founded Appleby Farms with his neighbour, Julian Raine.

Appleby Farms

Murray King and Aileigh Gray who milks the cows Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Appleby Farms

Aileigh put cups on the cows udders Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Appleby Farms

The A2 cows head back to the paddock after being milked Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

The challenge was coming up with a unique milk product that they could build a story around.

After a lot of research, including taking part in Te Hono Ideas Bootcamp, they settled on ice cream.

"Because we thought it would be relatively easy, and most importantly, we knew somebody who could make ice cream, which is Kristy Giles!"

Kristy came on board as a co-founder. She is a food technologist and ice cream maker extraordinaire.

That was seven years ago and, initially, Murray said it was a rocky road.

"These things always take longer than you hope and cost more than you expect."

"We built a factory and, you know, steel and concrete isn't the cheapest thing to build, plus all the machinery and the plant that's required to churn ice cream."

Appleby Farms

Collecting the milk from the Murray's farm Photo: Supplied

Appleby Farms

The milk is taken to the ice cream factory in Stoke Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

The factory in Stoke is only eight kilometres from the milking shed on Murray's farm.

"We moved onto site at the beginning of July 2017 and we were making ice cream by December of that year, so it was quite a project!" Kristy said.

She drives production and development and wants Appleby Farms to be the cream of the crop.

"So I designed how I wanted the factory to be laid out, I formulated the ice cream and now I look after the operations, which is essentially from the farm to the customer."

Appleby Farms

Kristy checks the ice cream making machinery Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

The business now employs about 10 full-time staff and makes more than a dozen flavours of ice cream. Vanilla and chocolate are the perennial favourites.

So what makes a great ice cream?

"Mostly it's fresh whole milk and lovely cream," Kristy said.

"The quality of your dairy material is critical and because we source our milk from just down the road, that's an excellent starting point."

Appleby Farms

Appleby Farms vanilla ice cream Photo: Supplied

Appleby Farms

Waiting to be milked Photo: Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Appleby Farms

Murray checks on the cows Photo: Supplied