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By Paul Lonardo
Moo Moo Ice Cream officially opened for business on Friday June 22, just in time for summer. But this is no ordinary ice cream stand, as it is being operated out of a converted horse trailer, and was launched by Smithfield’s own Blackbird Farm and the Bouthillette family.
When Ann Marie Bouthillette, one of the owners of the family-operated farm, was shown a photograph by her daughter-in-law of a horse trailer that had been converted into an ice cream truck, she saw a unique opportunity and passed the idea by her husband, Kevin, who was sufficiently interested to look into it further.
Rhode Island produces 1% of the food its citizens consume, according to Ann Marie, and that is something that can be improved upon.
“What we strive to do at Blackbird Farm is make people aware when they shop here they are getting the real deal,” she says. “And that’s what the Farmer’s Market is all about. It’s about meeting the farmer who grows the food, or the food artisan who prepares the food, puts it out for sale, and makes a living doing it. But we wanted to expand what we do at our farm stand, and we decided that ice cream was the best way to do this.”
The ice cream trailer was opened not only to provide the community with a delicious treat that always seems to taste best on a warm New England day, but to lend support to a cause that she is deeply passionate about. With local farmers everywhere falling under hard times and faced with dwindling profits, Ann Marie is an ardent advocate of buying fresh and buying local.
“We’re all about supporting local businesses and knowing where your food comes from,” Ann Marie says. “At Blackbird Farm, we’re not only a beef and pork farm, we also promote and support our local dairy farms. The Moo Moo Ice Cream trailer is a way to raise awareness and encourage people to consume Rhody Fresh milk.”
Rhody Fresh is a co-op consisting of eight Rhode Island dairy farms that came together to leverage the demand for local agricultural products by developing their own line of quality milk, as well as cheese and sour cream, which is sold under the name, Cabot. These Rhody Fresh products can be found in major supermarkets and community markets throughout Rhode Island.
“The milk that is used to make our ice cream comes from Rhody Fresh farms,” Ann Marie says, “but also the soda used to make the root beer floats and the ice cream sodas is from Yacht Club, a family-owned and operated manufacturer in North Providence that began in 1915. And the syrups and the chocolates are all from a local company, Rhode Island Fruit and Syrup, in Smithfield.”
For Ann Marie, the main concern is the local dairy farms, which are in danger of going out of business if local consumers do not support them. She personally knows many of these farmers. They are her friends, and she wants to do all she can to help. By choosing to buy milk from Rhody Fresh, customers are choosing the freshest product possible that is totally free from of artificial growth hormone. The taste alone will keep people coming back for Rhody Fresh milk, but at the same time the repeat business and new customers help support our dairy farmers and the local economy. It’s a win-win for everyone.
The Moo Moo ice cream trailer will remain a permanent part of Blackbird Farm, Ann Marie says. You will see it at the Blackbird farm stand any time you come to the farm stand to buy products, including the popular Farmer’s Market on Friday nights and now Sunday afternoons, whether you eat it there or take it home to enjoy.
“The Moo Moo ice cream trailer features twelve different flavors of ice cream, ice cream sundaes and ice cream sodas, and more” Ann Marie says. “It will be open seven days from noon to 9 p.m. every day, and we want to keep the farm stand open as much as possible during that time, as well.”
Ann Marie says they are also going to start hosting birthday parties sometime in the near future.
The man who delivered the ice cream to the farm two days before the new business opened was amazed to find a horse trailer equipped with freezers, and you will be amazed by the quality and taste of Moo Moo Ice Cream at Blackbird Farm.
Come by and visit Blackbird Farm anytime for the beef, pork, ice cream, or to meet Grampa Ted and his two Brown Swiss oxen, Sugar and Maple. The kids will love them. Grampa Ted refers to the animals, who live on the farm stand, as Blackbird Farm’s Goodwill Ambassadors. Grandpa Ted often talks to farm stand patrons about what it was like own animals like Sugar and Maple back in the day, and how they were used on a working farm. He often gives people rides on his wagon, as well.
Blackbird farm is located at 660 Douglas Pike (across from Limerock Road). For more information call the farm stand at 401-232-2495 or Ann Marie directly at 401-578-3959 or go to