Fresh & Local
Moo Thru & The Ice Cream Dream
Column #22, Published Feb 17th, 2012

There is currently a food revolution going on, and locally grown food is making permanent inroads into the food we eat.

I was in Croftburn Market, and I happened to see milk in glass bottles in one of the refrigerated cases. I grew up in upstate New York and I can remember not only milk in bottles, but I can remember when dairies delivered milk right to your door. That was a long time ago.

I asked Andrew Campbell where he was getting the milk. “It’s from the Moo Thru dairy,” he replied. “Ken Smith in Remington.”

“Ken Smith? Don’t you mean Ashland Farms out on Rt. 3 here in Culpeper?” I asked.

“This is a different Ken Smith. This is the one who has the Moo Thru ice cream store at the intersection of Rt. 29 and Rt. 28 in Remington.”

Imagine that. Two unrelated dairy farmers named Ken Smith within 15 miles of each other. And one of them also owns an ice cream store.

Po Bronson in his book “What Should I Do with My Life?” wrote, “[People] want to find work they’re passionate about. Educating people is important but not enough - far too many of our most educated people are operating at quarter speed, unsure of their place in the world, contributing too little . . . We need to encourage people to find their sweet spot. Productivity explodes when people love what they do.”

I read an interview that the Moo Thru Ken Smith gave to the Piedmont Business Journal. Talking about the store, he said, “I always had this dream, kind of like the bucket list that people say they want to accomplish. This was one of those things I dreamed about. I had been talking about it for twenty years, the idea of a drive-through dairy store of some kind.”

This is an interesting locally grown food story, and I had some questions for Ken. It took some doing, but I eventually caught up with him.

“Dairying is a tough business,” I began. “It’s hard work, and it is 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can’t ever get away from it for long.”

“True. Very True.”

“So in addition, you dreamed about starting another 7 day a week, 365 day a year business?”

Ken has a good laugh. “It does make for a long day, particularly in the summer when we’re open until 9 or 10 at night. But, I don’t have trouble falling asleep at night.” We both have a good laugh at that. This is definitely not someone who is operating at quarter speed. Ken then quickly adds, “I don’t mind the work. I love what I’m doing.” That shows.

“You said that you have been dreaming about the store for 20 years,” I continue. “Why now?”

“Several years ago, this would not have worked – the fresh milk in bottles, making our own ice cream,” he replies. “There is definitely an increased interest now in where food comes from. We believe our milk has better flavor. It’s fresher, taking often only 36 hours from cow to bottle. It’s how we handle it. It’s the feed we use. It’s how we graze the cows. People can taste the difference, and people now appreciate the difference.”

I have used up my allotment of words for this week. I will continue my conversation with Ken Smith next week.


Bryant Osborn and his wife Terry own Corvallis Farms in Culpeper County. His column on fresh and locally grown food runs every Friday. He can be reached at bryant@corvallisfarms.com