Ice Cream Saved the Farm
Sweet success in rural Wisconsin
The Sebion farm in Wisconsin produces Sibby's Homestead Organic Ice Cream.
Suzanne Sebion is passionate about organic, farm-fresh food and living a natural, simple lifestyle. She’s also passionate about revitalizing her community and saving the family farm. This southwestern Wisconsin woman found the perfect outlet for her passion – ice cream.
In 2001, Sebion began producing Sibby’s Homestead Organic Ice Cream. It’s free of preservatives, chemical additives and genetically engineered ingredients, and it is soooo good! Today she makes her custard-like organic ice cream daily at the 3,500-square-foot homestead creamery she built on the farm that has been in her family for 150 years.
A parcel delivery truck driver for 19 years, Sebion saw firsthand the growing organic movement in Wisconsin’s Kickapoo Valley, and she wanted to be a part of it. With roots in dairy farming, her thoughts turned to ice cream, and, with some help from University of Wisconsin-Madison dairy science professor Dr. Robert Bradley, she created the perfect recipe. Certified 100 percent organic, Sibby’s uses fresh organic cream from local farmers, organic cocoa, organic egg yolks and pure organic vanilla extract.
The perfect recipe
With the perfect recipe and a few pints of her handmade ice cream, she hit the road to market her product.
"I bought a deep freeze and would go to Madison and Milwaukee once a month and deliver to food co-ops in La Crosse and Winona," Sebion says. She continued that practice until she had enough customers to attract a distributor.
Sibby’s has come a long way since that first trek to Madison. Though she oversees everything, Sebion has a manager to handle much of the production and make ice cream five days a week.
Sibby’s Homestead Organic Ice Cream can be found in food co-ops and natural food stores in 16 states and is now distributed throughout the Midwest by organic distributor United Natural Foods.
"We are in all the Whole Foods Markets now in the Midwest, and I’m meeting with Costco next month," Sebion says. "We will take it national next summer."
This sweet Wisconsin treat has even drawn international interest.
"Last week, I was contacted by someone in Shanghai, wondering if I’m ready to move into the major cities in China," Sebion says. "I would supply the five-star hotels as a boutique ice cream."
Sebion attributes her international fame to her new packaging and redesigned Web site – released in 2007.