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Ice cream dream

Dairy family serves up scoops of pure fun
By Allison Farley, Photos by Hannah Nave 5/26/2020

 

Jeffrey and Elizabeth Turner, pictured in inset with daughter, Evelyn, are the owners and operators of Shop Springs Creamery in Wilson County. The couple began planning for the creamery in the fall of 2017 and opened their doors to the public for the first time in November 2019, and their grand opening is planned for this month.
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What’s better than a big scoop of ice cream? How about supporting local farmers while you eat it! That’s exactly what you can do at Shop Springs Creamery, a recent addition to the Turner Dairy.


Located in the tiny community of Shop Springs in rural Wilson County, the third-generation dairy is operated by Jeffrey and Elizabeth Turner, and Jeffrey’s brother, Justin, and his wife, Terra. The boys’ dad, Tommy, who ran the family dairy from 1975 to 1998, still plays a major role on the dairy, too, and can be found milking the family’s herd of 110 Holsteins almost every morning.


Since childhood, Jeffrey had dreamed of taking over his family’s dairy operation and adding a creamery and farm store. 


“It was always something in the back of my mind,” says Jeffrey. “I thought [the idea] was a little too far-fetched, but the more Elizabeth and I researched it, the more we thought we could handle it.”


The couple began planning and took the first steps toward opening their creamery in the fall of 2017. They took a brief break in April as they welcomed their first child.


“I’m excited to raise our daughter, Evelyn, on our family dairy,” says Elizabeth. “It’s the way Jeffrey and I were both raised, and I think it’s a good way to grow up.”


After two years of hard work and dedication, their dream became a reality in November 2019 when they staged a spontaneous soft opening that was “unplanned, unpromoted, and took place almost on a whim.”


“We posted on Facebook: ‘We’ve got ice cream’ and turned the ‘open’ sign on,” Elizabeth recalls with a laugh. “We had no idea that people would be lined up out the door for the whole day. We ran out of all the ice cream flavors, and our arms were sore from scooping.”


Following the successful soft opening, the Turners are even more excited to stage the formal grand opening of their creamery during June Dairy Month, to celebrate their business and the industry they cherish. 


The Turners are long-time members of Wilson Farmers Cooperative, where Jeffrey worked during his freshman year of college. The family also does business with Rutherford Farmers Cooperative for many of their

agronomic and row-crop needs. 


Jeffrey is not the only member of the household to have a passion for the dairy industry and agriculture. Elizabeth, a fourth-generation dairy farmer, was raised in Corunna, Mich., on her family’s registered Holstein farm. 


“I never really imagined myself continuing to be a dairy farmer,” says Elizabeth. “I always wanted to be connected to agriculture, which is why I went to college to be an agriculture teacher. I had no intention of continuing to be a dairy farmer, but then I met Jeffrey.”


One of the major reasons the couple decided to make their dream a reality now was in response recent moves by processors to stop buying milk from smaller dairy operations. 


“We wanted to be more in control of our product,” says Elizabeth. “By opening our own place, we get to take it to the end-user and have the satisfaction of seeing that customer enjoy our product.”


The Turners credit the Agriculture Enterprise Grant they received from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture in the fall of 2018 as one of the factors that helped get their business going. This incentive grant program is awarded to for projects that demonstrate a strong potential for impact on local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity, or agricultural innovation. Thanks to this grant, the Turners say they were able to purchase the cream separator that they use to make many of their products. 


Creamery visitors will be able to sample and purchase delicious homemade ice cream in a variety of flavors. In addition to favorites like vanilla, chocolate, mint chocolate chip, dark chocolate, strawberry, banana, peach, and salted caramel, two to three specialty flavors are offered and change each month. Gourmet offerings include maple bacon, the cookie monster, and candy cane, among others.


In addition to the wide selection of ice cream, the Turners’ farm store is fully stocked with locally grown products like Wilson County produced beef, pork, lamb, and farm-fresh eggs. 


“We felt like we have an outstanding location for the farm store,” says Jeffrey. “We have lifelong friends who farm, and we wanted to see them succeed, too. We want everyone to succeed in adding value to their product, and that’s why we wanted to include other folks from the county in our store.”


The ultimate goal for the creamery is to produce more than just ice cream.


“Our goal is to eventually offer butter, cream, whole milk, and chocolate milk,” says Elizabeth. “We’re also creating a couple of specialty flavors of milk that we hope to offer down the road.” 


Planning a trip to Shop Springs Creamery? You can visit them at 2816 Sparta Pike in Lebanon during their summer hours: Monday-Friday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from noon to 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.


“Since our dream has become reality, we are proud to serve local products to a community  that wants to support local farmers,” says

Elizabeth. “And we cannot wait to see where their support will take us.”


 
 
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