An area icon, Richardson’s Ice Cream sets the bar high when it comes to family outings in New England.
In an age when startup companies come and go faster than a pint of mint chocolate chip, it’s comforting to know that when you order a cone at Richardson’s, you’re supporting a 300-year-old family business with nine generations of farming expertise at its back.
In 1952, the Richardson family decided to take advantage of their growing number of cows and began making and selling ice cream. Dave Daniels, son of Paul Richardson’s sister, took over as president of the company in 2009. Daniels grew up working on the farm and learned how to make ice cream at an early age, so the company’s continued success comes as no surprise.
Sprawled over 800 acres, Richardson’s rolling green pastures dominate a good-sized portion of Middleton’s countryside. Voluminous acreage has allowed them to expand (Richardson’s Ice Cream is found in shops all over New England), while remaining a locally focused business.
Golfers at the driving range.
In the event that you’d prefer to do something more than practice your ice cream cone-licking techniques, Richardson’s offers its own kind of entertainment. The entire facility is a combination working farm, retail store, and playground. Families can play a round of mini golf, take a few swings in the batting cages, and practice shots on a driving range. While no tours are offered (plans are in the works for a more interactive visitor experience), anyone is welcome to walk into the barn where cows, goats, chickens, and a turkey named “Jive” offer greetings.
“Happy cows make great milk,” says employee Ned Bolth. “Cow comfort and nutrition are the leading factors in obtaining optimum herd health and milk production.” It makes sense then, that everything the cows eat is top quality and locally grown. That, combined with daily strolls around the pasture, is why the Holstein cows produce ideal ice cream milk at a rate of 8.5 gallons a day. It may also be why Richardson’s cows seem to be smiling.
That free-range environment has led to a few unexpected adventures over the years, too. Bolth recalls a recent episode when one of their “clever cows” learned to lick the pin out of the barn’s gate latch. All the cows wandered out of the barn in the middle of the night. “They were everywhere,” he says. “In front of the ice cream stand, along Rt. 114, in the golf range, eating the flowers out of the beds, and trampling the lawn.” The cleanup took days!