Singing Poplars Ice Cream was started three years ago in Thunder Bay, Ont. by mother-daughter duo Mary and Ayla Ludwig. Their coconut-based non-dairy ice cream has now become a popular frozen alternative in the city.
“I was a little unsure of how it would be received in the community,” said Ayla, who’s been “getting the ball rolling” before her mother moves to the city in June.
“There seems to be a lot of people who are excited to have an alternative product.”
Ludwig has been at the weekend market in Thunder Bay for a month now, and works with Espresso Joya, a local coffee shop. All of the ice cream and products are made and packaged out of her home kitchen.
To get her kitchen certified to make ice cream for sale, Ludwig “went through the process with our local health unit, you just have to meet certain requirements they laid out… the space is clean, you can’t store food on the floor and stuff like that,” she said. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
The honey Ludwig uses comes from her sister in Southern Ontario, and once she runs out she said she’s going to turn to local farmers. “I really want to support my local community,” she said. “That’s how our local economy works, we all work together to support one another.” (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
On an old freezer in Ludwig’s ‘Ice Cream Parlour’, she has a sign made for her by an 8-year old friend. “She wanted to come and make ice cream with me,” she said. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
Each ice cream maker will produce 1.5 litres of ice cream, enough for three pints. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes for the cooled ice cream mix to freeze and be ready for packaging. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
“My mom got into ice cream, and was really enjoying making it, and started buying equipment,” Ludwig said. “So I said okay, well I guess I’ll start making ice cream too!” Her mother’s retirement dream is to run a small business, “I’ve just been getting the ball rolling,” says Ludwig. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
In the room where Ludwig makes and packages the ice cream a picture of her mother sits on the shelf. “We’ve been working on this together over the phone and the internet, but we haven’t actually physically worked together yet,” says Ludwig. “I’m super excited, my mom is a very passionate, zany woman. She’ll be fun to work with.” (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
Each week Ludwig brings plenty of options to the Country Market in Thunder Bay, offering vanilla bean, chocolate, raspberry, vanilla strawberry, and toasted coconut ice cream flavours. They also sell Ice cream bars dipped in dark chocolate, two kinds of ice cream sandwiches, and “Yummy-Nummy” bites, small pieces of ice cream frozen and dipped in chocolate. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
Each pint is packed and labelled by Ludwig herself. “When we make our ice cream, we’re using really good ingredients. Every batch is hand crafted,” she said. “We’re used to going to the grocery store and paying X-amount for something, but it’s a very different product.” (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
“It feels good when people who haven’t had ice cream in a very long time because they haven’t found an alternative they enjoy, and then they like our product, that sort of pushes you to keep going,” Ludwig said. “It’s really encouraging.” (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
Ludwig is excited to share her products with her mother this summer. “Getting to share the product is exciting, but I also get a high off of getting to meet new people, and hearing stories, and getting to act silly with some of my customers,” Ludwig said. “I’m really looking forward to this season.” (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
And the final product is something Ludwig can really get behind. “It tastes amazing,” she said. “Orange is my favourite flavour.” (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)
The majority of customers they get at the market are people who are looking for a dairy alternative for their dietary requirements. But Ludwig said others show interest as well. “Once I lure them in with a sample and get them to try it, they enjoy it and can have dairy, but opt to get the non-dairy.”
Running a small business has been her mother’s retirement dream, and Ludwig is excited to start working with her in the kitchen, but also nervous.
She said, “I will report back and let you know how it is in a month.”