Cow's Brow is udder success

| 25 Oct 2017 | 11:52

— Upon arrival at Windy Brow Farms, named for it's location on a blustery bluff in Newton, the first thing you'll notice when you open your car door is the alluring scent of freshly baked apple cider doughnuts. The farm is famous for them along with it's numerous varieties of apples and as of 2013: ice cream.
The farm is owned by Jim and Linda Hunt and in 2013, their son, Jake Hunt-- now the farm's Managing Partner--did his senior hypothetical business at college on adding ice cream to the family business. His parents took a chance on his idea and The Cow's Brow Creamery was added. Turns out this was one hypothesis that really worked. Located within Windy Brow's store, the creamery is a huge draw featuring both seasonal and “staple” flavors of ice cream and serving it by the cone, cup or in larger containers to take home.
“Since we established in the Summer of 2013 we’ve gone through the typical growing pains that any new business experiences,” Hunt said. “We try to balance our existing farm/pick your own/bakery business and grow as smartly as possible. I’ve never wanted to get too big too fast, or grow beyond what I thought the business could handle.”
Hunt added, “Because we are producing what we think is a extremely high quality, locally sourced ice cream, demand grew pretty quickly, and we got to the point that we were in wholesale markets in Chester, and Morristown, and a significant number of local purveyors—we stretched ourselves pretty thin. This summer we decided to significantly scale back wholesale, and refocus on our operations on the farm. We’re looking into growing the home business more at this point, and researching the possibility of an ice cream truck to expand our event capacity, before we venture back out into the beast that is wholesale.”
Since The Cow's Brow's inception, there has been one flavor--Salty Caramel--that, although it has gone through a few recipe changes, has been the most popular flavor across the board.
“Otherwise, every summer and fall we have seasonal flavors that are always popular like Peaches & Cream, Roasted Strawberry, Caramel Apple Crunch and Pumpkin Pie, all made from locally sourced fruit,” Hunt said.
“Aside from the usual balancing of life and running a small business, we haven't had too many hiccups or challenges,” Hunt said. “It's mostly just determining where to take the business and where to focus our growth investment. Over the past four years, it’s been extremely exciting to watch it grow and gain a following to the level we’re at now. Something else that I’m extremely proud of, and excited to see grow are the new vegan recipes that I’ve developed from scratch. It’s really satisfying to be able to provide dairy free options to vegans or individuals with allergies that otherwise are unable to find vegan ice cream, that’s actually creamy and actually tastes good, in our area.”
For fall, The Cow's Brow's most popular flavors are Maple Bacon, Caramel Apple Crunch and Pumpkin Pie.
“These are our fall staples, they always have been, and all have their own unique following of people. The Maple Bacon draws people in, and they either love it or hate it; the Caramel Apple Crunch has actually changed the most since we started making it, and I think I’ve finally come up with the perfect combination (cinnamon apple ice cream, creamy homemade caramel, cider syrup, and brown sugar oat crumble...hungry yet?”
In addition to The Cow's Brow, at Windy Brow Farm, Hunt runs the “non-pie side” of the bakery business; so, all the artisan breads, and majority of the pastries that they produce are primarily made by Hunt.
“Otherwise, it’s truly a team effort—we’ve been blessed with great senior staff, an Orchard Manager that’s been on the farm for 30 plus years, and a really excellent employee base overall,” Hunt said.
Of this year, Hunt said, “We’ve had a nearly perfect growing season for fruit this year, and are still open for pick your own apples and will be through the beginning of November, as long as the whether holds. In the store we have over 15 varieties of apples, winter squash and vegetables, a wide selection of jams, jellies, and dressings, local honey, and other great local products, not to mention a variety of artisan breads on weekends, and cases full of delicious pastries.” He added, “And don’t forget, it’s never too cold for ice cream—and our Seasonal Limited Edition flavors will stick around through Christmas this year."
People come from far and wide to experience Windy Brow and its goodies, and the farm offers wagon rides on the weekends.
“I would say we’ve really expanded our reach in recent years, primarily through social media,” Hunt said. While the majority of our year round repeat customers are local, we’ve definitely seen an uptick in customers coming from the city suburbs that are looking to us for a day in the country, surrounded by nature, and without the frills and amusements that you may find on other farms. We pride ourselves on offering people one of the best pick your own experiences, surrounded by the beauty of Sussex County, and give people the chance to get away from their hectic day to day lives and just breath in some country air.”
Windy Brow also does custom orders for weddings, and other events, and expanding the catering/event aspect of the business is something they're looking to do in the next year or so.
Windy Brow is located at 359 Ridge Road in Newton. Fall hours are 9am-5pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-6pm Friday-Sunday. Call (973) 579-9657, visit www.windybrowfarms or find Windy Brow on Facebook for further information.