Ash Farm is best known as the home of Dunham Massey Farm Ice Cream, but there’s so much more to do there this Christmas.
We speak with fourth-generation farmer Rick Pennington.
ALTRINCHAM TODAY: Can you give us a brief history of Ash Farm? Has it been in the family for a few years?
RICK PENNINGTON: Yes, I am the fourth generation at Ash Farm. It was originally a dairy farm and is now a mixed herd of crop and suckler cattle. When my grandfather and dad farmed here, the ice cream parlor is where the cows used to be milked.
AT: You are well known locally as the home of Dunham Massey Farm Ice Cream. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
RP: It was originally created in 1996 when my sister left Muller Yoghurt to create the best artisan ice cream ever! It is still made by hand in small batches. The flavors have slowly grown and we now have a range of 40 flavors that rotate in the freezer.
Until four years ago, the ice cream was sold in a small building where it was only served for takeout with no seating. With the current ice cream parlor redundant, we made the decision to create what you see today, allowing us to expand into the cafeteria and a wider range of ice cream products.
AT: Looking around, there are a wide variety of other attractions and reasons to visit, from pygmy goats to a coffee shop. Can you explain to people what they can expect if they visit?
RP: Since we opened the cafe, it has given us the opportunity to grow, introducing hot drinks and a variety of hot food offerings.
As you walk through the building it opens up to the teepee and goat shed. The teepee was originally purchased during Covid to provide covered, well-ventilated seating. Now it is part of our seasonal events.
In the summer we have a sunflower and wildflower trail, and then in October we have a pumpkin picking event. We decorate the hall and the teepee for each season; It is currently a winter wonderland.
The pygmy goats are a big hit! Everyone loves them, they are so mischievous. Also, the cows will be back in the stables shortly and we expect them to give birth in mid to late December. Visitors will be able to see around the teepee areas. We also have the rabbit garden, where you can see the rabbits in their fantastic runs.
AT: We’re coming up to Christmas now and the farm is looking incredibly festive. Tell us a bit about your Christmas sale this year.
RP: So this year we’ve transformed the lounge and teepee into a magical winter wonderland. Santa Claus will visit us in his grotto, and we also have a treasure hunt for naughty elves.
We also have a great selection of freshly cut British Christmas trees and wreaths. It might even be snowing as you look around the Christmas trees, thanks to our snow machine! There’s so much more: we’ll have some special holiday ice cream flavors in the lounge, and a variety of festive food and drinks including mulled wine and cider, and daring hot chocolates.
‘Moving here has inspired me’
Pamela Macauley, owner of the Vintage Angel gift shop at Ash Farm, has no regrets moving her shop from Altrincham town centre.
I love living in the town and now having my store here. Instead of a busy street in front, I have fields and hedges. It is now a destination store and customers can shop and then have homemade ice cream or tea and cake. It is perfect.
If anyone remembers my shop at Christmas in Altrincham you won’t be disappointed as it still has beautiful displays full of magic and sparkle. The change of location to the field also inspired me to add more products with a field theme to reflect our location, but the overall look is still nice and old.
We now sell more cards and small gifts and the focus post-pandemic has been to find independent UK designers and makers to support small businesses like me and the cafe.
We are also official distributors of Frenchic Paint, which is very easy to use and can transform kitchens, entrance doors and old furniture.
For more information visit dunhammasseyicecream.com or follow @dunhammasseyicecream on Facebook and Instagram.
Photography: Laura Marie Linck