Alder Tree, Suffolk
Stephany Hardingham and the team at Alder Tree have been creating cream ice from Alder Carr Farm in Creeting St Mary for East of England Co-op stores across Suffolk since 2014.
“At Alder Tree our aim is to make the very best tasting cream ice in the world, whilst minimising our impact on the planet,” said Stephany.
“In 1987 my parents, Nick and Joan Hardingham who founded Alder Carr Farm, couldn’t bear to see a bumper crops of raspberries go to waste. They tried out an old family recipe for ice cream with extra high fruit content and we’ve continued to produce Cream Ice on the farm ever since.”
In 2007 Stephany returned to the family business following time spent as an environmental consultant. She saw great potential in the Cream Ice, set-up Alder Tree Ltd as a new company and has worked continuously ever since to develop the business.
“We now have over a dozen core flavours available in five pack sizes, and regularly introduce limited edition flavours depending on what’s growing on the farm. We’ve also worked in partnership with other local businesses, such as Adnams whom with we produced a Gooseberry and Limoncello flavour Cream Ice for 2016.”
Their ices use 100% British, fruit, cream and sugar. Much of their fruit is grown on the family fruit farm, with the rest coming from other local growers near Bury St Edmunds and Manningtree. Alder Trees work to be ethical and sustainable has also been recognised, being awarded a Gold in the Suffolk Carbon Charter in 2016 and named Winner of Greenest Micro Business in 2015 in the Creating the Greenest County Awards.
In 2012 Alder Tree converted an old Morris Ambulance into an ice cream van to take to fetes, fairs and charity events to enable ever-more people the opportunity to try their award-winning ices. In fact, they’ve won 50 Great Taste Awards and was voted one of the Top 50 Foods in the country two years running by the Guild of Fine Foods.
Stephany is actively involved with the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, and is a founding member of the Suffolk Young Producers who seek to collectively advance the profile of Suffolk Food from field to fork through events such as running a pop-up restaurant in London.
Stephany believes more young people should consider a career in food production. She explained: “Farming and food production allows you great freedom and variability. One day I’m in the kitchen, another in the office, another in the great outdoors picking elderflowers, and then out at events meeting customers. I love inventing new flavours and picking elderflowers in the hedgerows on a sunny day. I never get bored!”