By DANIELLE S. TEPPER
When you pick up a pint of ice cream at the store, you don’t know much about it besides the brand and flavor. But at Crystal Spring, you can practically see the cows from your seat on the deck as you sit outside in the summer breeze enjoying your cone of some of the freshest ice cream in the Valley.
Crystal Spring Farm is the winner of our 2014 Coolest Treat award and it’s not hard to see why. According to Audrey Marsteller, CSF snatched all the votes because customers “know exactly what they’re getting here. We’re all about knowing where your food comes from and I think more people are becoming aware of that.”
Marsteller is a fourth generation farm girl; her great-grandparents Irwin and Katie Piefly purchased the land back in 1903. Her father, Hubert Sell, turned it from a potato farm to a dairy farm in the 1960s. He had always wanted his own dairy store, said Marsteller, and while there used to be a handful across the area, now “there’s only us,” she said.
“The secret is, we all stuck together as a family and made it work,” she continued. “It’s a lot of hours of work in the week.”
Her two brothers, Scott and Gary, work approximately 80 to 100 hours a week tending the farm; they do everything themselves. One specializes in their crops, the other in their cows. They have nearly 300 cows on the land, nearly half of which contribute approximately eight gallons of milk per day. That’s over 1,000 gallons!
“They [Scott and Gary] are both hoping to work as long as physically possible,” said Marsteller. “We grew up in it and we loved it. The boys, all they thought about in school was the farm. We wanted to stay in it.”Marsteller helped out her whole life, but she was 18 when she started helping in the retail part of the business. “I always wanted to be a teacher or to work in retail. I love people, so I went with retail. Really all of us had the same idea; we’ve all been lifelong workers and we all specialize in our own areas here. We don’t butt heads, because we all do our own thing, yet work together.”
Her third brother runs Crystal Spring Electric and their parents still have a heavy hand in the day-to-day operations. “They’re still very active,” said Marsteller. “Dad is 80, but he’s still here every day. Mom comes in around three days a week to bake and make the soups and pie filling. She’s a real Betty Crocker, she’s done that since Day 1.”
Crystal Spring has received other awards throughout the years, and Marsteller said they appreciate the recognition and the appreciation of the hard work that goes into keeping the farm running smoothly and churning out a quality product.
“The quality is unsurpassed; we use a lot of cream, fresh from our dairy herd, and a lot of other places can’t afford to do that,” she said. “What we’re doing this time a year is fighting for cream. It’s a challenge, meeting that need.”
In other words, if you don’t see as much milk or butter on their shelves, blame their delicious ice cream. Marsteller’s personal fave? Coconut Almond Joy, just one of almost 30 flavors total. Marsteller said the line of people is often out the door during the summer. A weeknight may see around 100 people stop by, while the weekend can see up to five to seven times that many. Lucky they have indoor and outdoor seating, not to mention the picturesque fountain area and gazebo.
So next time you stop by Crystal Spring Farm for a sundae, smoothie, shake, or split, be sure to thank the cows lowing right around the corner for the fresh creamy taste. Even though they aren’t allowed to get public visitors, they’re still part of the Crystal Spring family.
“Our cows are a mess,” laughed Marsteller. “They have personalities; they stand and lick you. They’re like pets.”
Visit Crystal Spring Farm on Facebook.