Farmers Market Vendor Profile #8: Earnest Ice Cream

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Vancouver Framers Markets Vancouver Farmers Markets is about people who love fresh food at festive gatherings. With the initial goal in 1995 to create the fun and value of weekly Farmers Markets in urban settings, the Society and the Markets have become Vancouver plazas of fun, discovery, and connecting. Each month V.I.A. introduces you to one of the fabulous Market vendors!

Vendor Profile #8: Earnest Ice Cream
By Kim Peterson

Rain or shine, Earnest Ice Cream, is unofficially (but literally) the season’s coolest stand at the Vancouver Farmers’ Market. Take for example the second last Sunday in July at the Kits Market, which wasn’t exactly a bluebird summer day. It was cloudy, and a little cool, not raining, but not really what you might consider “ice cream weather.” To think that this would be a quiet day for an ice cream man/lady is an underestimation of how much people really do like frozen milk and sugar. It was brisk business on the grey day, with shoppers eagerly snapping up frosted glass jars of vanilla, chocolate and whisky butter salted hazelnut ice cream on their way out of the market.

“It’s beyond our wildest expectations,” says Ben Ernst, who, along with his partner Erica Bernardi, started Earnest Ice Cream just over two months ago. “This city has been ready and waiting for something like this.”

“This” is a deliciously simple summer treat, sold in reusable glass jars or as ice cream sandwiches. The product itself is top-notch; I tried the salted caramel, which managed to maintain the velvety texture of fresh toffee and its mellow salty-sweetness.

Ben is from Seattle and has a background working with small businesses; Erica is from Toronto and has a culinary degree. Making a locally sourced, small batch ice cream “struck a chord with us,” says Ben.

“It’s a celebratory thing, associated with leisure and summer time,” says Erica, (though even through “June-uary” demand was high). “It’s a comfort food so people are still able to enjoy it either way.”

The partners had no doubt that Vancouver’s farmers markets would be a great place to set up shop.
“We’re both gardeners, and love the Farmers Market and wanted to incorporate its emphasis on locally produced products,” says Erica.

Seasonal flavours include roasted rhubarb crumble, and a whisky with butter salted hazelnuts from Aggasiz.

“Ice cream is a blank slate, the sky is the limit when it comes to flavour ideas,” says Ben. He adds that the advantage of producing through small batches is that they can be both creative and discerning when it comes to picking out ingredients.

Ben and Erica produce Earnest Ice Cream at the commercial kitchen at the Woodland Smokehouse and Commissary, a new hub of artisanal food production in East Vancouver. They’re working full-time-plus right now to keep up with demand, but it doesn’t take a born-and-bred Vancouverite to know that these sunny days are fleeting. What about the winter?

“Everyone eats ice cream year round, they just tend not to go out of their way to pick up a cone,” says Ben.

Solution? Earnest Ice Cream will come to you. Plans for a “community shared creamery” are in the works, and customers will so be able to sign up for bi-weekly or monthly deliveries of ice cream throughout the winter months.

“There will be special perks that come with that,” promises Ben (as if ice cream delivery wasn’t a perk enough), and premium winter flavours like pumpkin pie, chai spice and cognac.

But let’s not think about winter just yet! Earnest Ice Cream will be keeping customers cool at Farmers Markets throughout the summer.