When life gave Bob Nutter extra cream, he made dessert.
The 83-year-old co-owner of Maple View Farm began making and selling homemade ice cream as a way to use his dairy’s cream surplus.
Today the treat has become a signature of the Hillsborough farm that the Nutters have developed for 48 years, bringing them recent success.
Maple View won this year’s Farm of the Year award from the North Carolina State Grange, a nonprofit organization promoting the agricultural community, earlier this month.
“Some customers travel two hours because of word-of-mouth recommendations and our great porch,” said Carrie Hopkins, who serves ice cream at the farm’s Country Store.
Nutter said he is always looking for ways to improve the farm.
“If something isn’t working out, then make a change to be successful,” he said.
Jimmy Gentry, the president of North Carolina State Grange, said he commends the farm’s efforts toward agriculture.
“This farm is a fabulous operation,” he said.
Gentry said he believes Maple View won the state award because of their integrated production process — the Nutters are in charge of each step, from cow udders to store freezers.
Nutter, who is semi-retired, said that holistic approach took time to develop.
Nutter said after he sold his farm and livestock in Maine in 1963, he began looking for land in the warmer South.
“I wanted a hill with a view,” Nutter said.
The 400-acre piece of farmland he stumbled upon in Hillsborough has just that.
“We bought all the machinery and the cows, and they have been used here on the farm ever since that first day,” Nutter said.
When milk prices began to slump, Nutter said he had to find a way to market his product and save the farm — so he chose to bottle the milk on-site.
“We had a choice — sell the land or bottle our own milk,” he said.
And in 1996, Maple View milk was first processed and bottled in a new farm facility.
Nutter’s son returned to the farm upon his father’s request to run the bottling operation.
Nutter said the way the milk is packaged matters to the family.
“We think milk is fresher from glass than from plastic,” he said.
Maple View farmers also prefer glass because of the material it’s made from.
“Glass is made from sand, and plastic is made from petroleum,” Nutter said. “Which would you rather drink from?”
He said support from the surrounding community has brought Maple View Farm its milk-selling success.
“Local people have been good to us,” Nutter said.
And residents said they enjoy supporting Maple View, especially when it means eating ice cream.
Lisa and Craig Vuxton said they bring their two children to visit the Maple View Farm Country Store each month.
“They ask to come here,” said Lisa Vuxton. “We know where the ice cream comes from, and we get a family atmosphere.”
Craig Vuxton said the Pittsboro family has traveled to the store for vanilla and “Carolina Crunch” ice cream regularly since moving from Boston a year ago. Their favorite is one of 12 regular flavors that join the farm’s seasonal menu.
“This place is charming, and you feel at home,” he said.
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