Driving down Route 9 just west of Five Points, near Lewes, it’s hard to miss the big silo with the cream cones on it. It’s enough to spark ice cream dreams — especially for its owners. For Christine Hopkins and her family, Hopkins Family Creamery was a five-year dream come true when they opened this June. All of the recent development in the area forced them to think about the direction the farm business was going, and they decided that agri-tourism was the way to go.
“It was a way for us to invite people on the farm,” she said, labeling the option an alternative to thinking about selling their land to a developer — a decision many farmers find themselves wrangling with — as well as allowing them to do something different.
“And we did it for our kids, for fun,” she added.
And once people were invited, boy, did they come.
“We opened June 20 of this year, and we have been busy ever since,” explained Hopkins.
She said radio advertising has brought in a lot of customers, as has the big ice cream-decorated silo visible from the road.
“At first, I thought we wouldn’t get anyone west of Route 1, but we do. And we get people leaving the beaches, and, believe it or not, lots of traffic from nearby Sports at the Beach, because that’s where all the sports teams go, and what do you want after a baseball game? Ice cream!”
In addition to paying customers, Hopkins said her children like to fill up, too – so much so that she had to limit them to one serving a day, because they liked to come down two or three times a day.
The nearly 950-acre farm houses about 1,000 cows and is the largest dairy farm in the state. Much of their milk and milk products are produced for Land O’Lakes.
The original plan was to buy their own pasteurizing equipment, but, for now, the ice cream they use is a super-premium mix from Cloverland Green Spring out of Baltimore, Md. They used local peaches and blueberries from Pfifer Orchards while they were in-season, which was “huge” and loved by the customers, according to Hopkins.
They can make about four batches of ice cream an hour, and they make and sell about 160 tubs per week. Popular flavors are Pistachio, Butter Pecan and Black Raspberry. All of the ice cream is sold by the ounce, at 55 cents per ounce.
“It might be a little confusing at first,” said Hopkins. “But it works. The average serving is 4 to 5 ounces, and we like to keep that at between $2.20 and $2.50. So you can get your child ice cream and it costs $1. I fed a family of four for $8.67, and they were like, ‘That’s it?’” Hopkins said the pricing also helps with portion control for little ones and makes the sweet treat cheaper and less wasteful. Besides children, she said they get a lot of canine customers, too.
“People come and get an ounce for their dogs,” she said. “But only vanilla,” she said laughing. “Hey, dogs are welcome, too.”
In addition to ice cream, they also sell sundaes, banana splits, rootbeer floats and will feature a pumpkin ice cream pie in a graham cracker crust this fall. They also sell ice cream to go in pints ($4.50) and quarts ($8).
First-time customers Sue and Mel B. from Washington, D.C., stopped by after a day of shopping at the nearby outlets.
“It was great,” said Sue, of their first taste of the treat. And even though the farm and silo are off of Route 9 a bit, she saw it and wanted to try it. “We were driving, and I saw that silo with the cones on it, but I’ve got a good eye for ice cream,” she shared, laughing.
Hopkins Family Creamery is located off of Route 9 on Dairy Farm Road, about 2 miles west of Route 1 at Five Points. They are open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. They will stay open through the holidays, most likely closing for January and February. For more information, call (302) 645-7163.