Milking creations and local ice cream delights at Way-Har Farms

Item Photo by Jennifer Hetrick While Way-Har Farms does a lot more than produce ice cream and milk, these items are the bread and butter of the family's efforts.

Since 1970, Way-Har Farms in Bernville has been bringing classic and comforting ice cream flavors to Berks County, with the cows happily grazing just right down the road for the milking.

The Lesher family began their operation in 1952. Today, the storefront sits within Jefferson Township limits, while the farmland behind it is tucked into Upper Tulpehocken Township. A total of 305 acres span the farm.

'There were no grocery stores or convenience stores back then,' Lolly Lesher said, about the early days at the farm when the shop stood as the main milk supplier of those around the area.

Selling mainly to families back then, the Lesher family has transitioned more into selling to places like restaurants and nursing homes today but still has plenty of families coming in for milk to stock away in their refrigerators at home.

For decades, the Leshers sent their milk and flavor recipes to an ice cream manufacturer in Reading, but four years ago, they suddenly heard the news that the business was closing.

Lolly, who is today in charge of making the farm's ice cream, connected with Danny Longacre of Longacre's Modern Dairy in Bally, to learn how to make the sweet treat on her own land following the closing of the Reading manufacturer's business.

Some of the more popularly sought after flavors of ice cream Lesher makes are chocolate almond cluster, strawberry cheesecake, caramel pecan, and black raspberry.

And Lesher keeps it as natural and fresh as possible, which she said is why she believes the ice cream is so well enjoyed by those who visit.

Not resorting to imitation ingredients when real ones are available, Lesher mixes two quarts of crushed raspberries into the recipe for her black raspberry ice cream.

Some flavors she's kept on the board throughout the years-old-time ones that stand out as a nostalgic reminder of days gone by-are teaberry, maple walnut and Bing cherry.

Today, Way-Har Farms offers about 60 different flavors of ice cream, with usually about 30 on the board at any given time. In the beginning, 25 flavors were a part of the lineup.

But all of these summer-swept sweets available one crunchy cone at a time wouldn't be up for grabs without the cows, who offer their milk daily.

Milking is done every nine-and-a-half hours; processing is handled every Monday and Thursday, with 2,500 gallons produced per day.

'William's real love is the farm, but he can fill in for me if I need him to,' Lesher said about her husband's pivotal role at Way-Harm Farms.

Chocolate marshmallow is her own favorite flavor, while her husband's is peach.

Playfully calling the cow lineup the United Nations on the farm, Lesher noted that the farm has Holstein, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Milking Shorthorn and Ayrshire cows, with rotational grazing efforts employed.

'They love to graze,' Lesher said about the herd kindly supplying the milk for the family's farm-fresh ice cream.

With about 17 calves on the farm right now, Maxine is one Lesher gravitates to most; the calf is tiny and has a personality all her own.

Lesher is usually in charge of feeding the calves in the morning, enjoying the gift of early hours spent around young farm animals.

To find out more, visit www.wayharfarms.com.

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