Ice cream season has arrived. And we’re excited to spotlight one of our newest local producers in the WFM freezer!
Sisters of Anarchy Ice Cream produces over two dozen flavors of ice cream and sorbet on their farm in Shelburne, Vermont, where they grow most of the flavor elements themselves. Thank you to the two women at the helm—Founder Becky Castle and Chief Operations Manager Rachel Ciancola—for taking the time to share with us a little about their family-owned and operated business and what makes their ice cream unique.
Q. What are your roles at Sisters of Anarchy ice cream?
A. Becky’s role is external relations, events and outreach. Rachel makes the trains run on time. She oversees all ice-cream production, fulfillment for both our wholesale partners and also our online orders, which are shipped nationwide (basically she is a total badass!) and pretty much every other special project we throw at her. We are women-owned and -managed!
Q. How did you get started in the ice-cream business?
A. Becky: My husband and I started our farm with the intent of growing the flavor elements for our ice cream. We are huge ice-cream fans and have made a tremendous amount of hand-cranked ice cream in our day. Our cream comes from our dairy partner in the NE Kingdom and honey, our primary sweetener, comes from Champlain Valley Apiaries, which maintains 40-70 hives at our farm.
Rachel: I was working in a leadership role at Vermont Bicycle Tours managing their European tours. When COVID shut down bike touring, I came across the position at Sisters of Anarchy. I loved the messaging and also love the challenges of being part of growing a business.
Q. This is obviously a family affair. What roles do your various family members play in the company?
A. From the beginning, Bob’s and my three daughters (a.k.a., the Sisters of Anarchy, now ages 17, 15 and 13, but ages 9, 5 and 7 when we started) have participated in every aspect of our farm—planting and weeding, helping produce the ice cream, serving ice cream at events, doing social media, helping with mail order, etc. Bob heads up the farming team and also contributes a lot to the creative. For example, he wrote and produced our theme song (our kids served as the talent…it is on our website, check it out!). We also think that it is really important for our kids to see what it takes to run a farm and a business. Although they have a love/hate relationship with it, they acknowledge that the experience is providing them with a unique opportunity to understand farming and business.
Q. What makes your product unique?
A. We use fresh (not cooked) berries and have developed a special process for safely doing so. We also keep our flavors simple. The Raspberry Beret tastes like raspberries. The Cyrstal Blue Persuasion tastes like fresh blueberries. You get the gist!!
Q. You make your ice-cream on-site at Fischer Brothers Farm. What other ingredients are sourced from the farm?
A. We grow nearly all of the flavor elements (except chocolate, coffee and vanilla). We cultivate over 35,000 row feet of six types of berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, elderberries and aronia berries) and Marquette grapes. In addition to ice cream, we also make a line of wellness syrups—elderberry and aronia berry—under the name Sisters of Anarchy SyrupWorks made 100 percent with items produced at the farm.
Q. You have some really unique ice-cream names. Who names your ice-creams?
A. We all contribute, but our general principle is that ice cream and the names should be fun. You’ll notice some names have a double meaning, which is intentional. An adult should be able to get a chuckle out of the name while the name is still “safe” for a kid to order without understanding the inside joke.
Q. What’s your most popular flavor of ice-cream?
A. Tough question! We make 22 flavors and are about to add another 5 sorbet flavors. The best sellers are Chocolate Anarchy, Crystal Blue Persuasion, I Want Candy with Chocolate, and Dirty Ann.
Q. Your most unusual flavor?
A. The Experience or Respect Your Elders. The Experience is an aronia berry base ice-cream with aronia berry brownie chunks blended in and Respect Your Elders is an elderberry ice-cream.
Q. What’s your personal favorite?
A. Becky: Crystal Blue Persuasion (blueberries blended in vanilla ice cream)
Rachel: Nine to Five (coffee ice cream)