The Valley Features: Flayvors of Cook Farm

One of the best parts about going to school in the Valley is our access to a tremendous number of amazing local businesses. From coffee shops to jewelry stores, our little part of Massachusetts has everything any college student would need, all while benefiting the same community that we live in. This ongoing segment is intended to go in depth with a few of these places, including how they got started and what students need to know about them.

Kicking off this feature is a popular and extremely successful ice cream and dairy store over in Hadley on South Maple Street, Flayvors of Cook Farm. Located on a third generation working dairy farm, Flayvors was the dream of co-owner Beth Cook, who made it a reality in 1998 when the shop first opened up. From their incredible homemade ice cream, made right from the milk of the cows you see when you pull into their dirt parking lot, to their homemade baked goods, everything is made with the degree of quality and attention that only a family-run business could give. They also support other local businesses in the area by selling their products in their store, like Hadley’s Mapleline Farms milk and South Deerfield’s Warm Colors Apiary honey.

I was able to interview the woman who runs the show over at Flayvors, Debby Cook:

How did Flayvors get started?

Beth always loved the idea of an ice cream shop here on the farm. Financing was an issue, but with the price of milk continuing to decline, the family knew we had to do something else besides strictly dairy farming in order to hold onto the farm for the long haul. Cook Farm sold several cows in order to both help finance the store and to alleviate the workload on the farm since Beth would no longer be farming. Beth did lots and lots of research and found grants and financing to make her “idea” or dream, a reality.

There are 25 flayvors of ice cream, with special flayvors that change monthly, as well as frozen yogurt, sherbet, and sorbet, (no sugar added).                                                                        

Why the name Flayvors?

We struggled with a name for the new store.  We wanted something related to our family but also related to ice cream, of course. So we decided to name the store after one of our favorite cows, Fayvor.  Approximately 80% of our herd traces back to this one cow!

What makes Flayvors unique in comparison to other ice cream places in the area?

You can’t get ice cream that tastes this awesome on another farm in the area! We are one of the ONLY working dairy farms that makes ice cream on our farm. It’s not made two hours away and shipped in. (We do have Garelick pick up our milk and make our ice cream mix because we do not have pasteurization capabilities). It’s all made right here in our kitchen. And we love ice cream, so only the highest quality ingredients will do. Our ice cream is rich and creamy like real ice cream should be. Ice cream shops can be kind of small, but our shop has lots of seating in our large back room as well as lots of outdoor seating…no other ice cream shop around has that! So come for the ice cream and enjoy the peace of the farm too.

What are some of the challenges of operating a family-run business?

Time and energy are the two biggest challenges of a family-run business. Ours is a small family business, so that means one of us is pretty much tied here all the time now. That means vacations can be done, but it puts a bigger burden on other family members and that can be tough.

Knowing each other’s strengths and limitations helps, but emotions are always involved. If the kids have a big soccer game, sometimes that means Gramma can’t go because she’s at the store or if a cousin has a birthday, sometimes that means I can’t go to the party if I’m the one working at the store. Working with family can be great, but it can be a challenge to keep relationships healthy. 

Maintaining the same level of energy can be tough sometimes too, especially when you’ve worked two months straight without a day off…it’s tough.  But then something just clicks and the energy and excitement are back. Sometimes it’s a suggestion from a customer or a quick trip away or even a small child announcing that Flayvors is the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my entire (four year) life.

How has the community helped your business succeed?

Our community has been amazingly helpful!  People really want us to succeed.  When we do receive positive press, people love sharing our story.  So much of our “advertising” is from word of mouth from customers who love our ice cream, raw milk, etc. We’ve worked super hard, putting so much of our heart and soul into our store, but without the support of our community we’d still be struggling.

Flayvors is open all year round - come get December flavors like Snappy Molassas!

Is there anything else that you want college students in the area to know about Flayvors?

Flayvors is the real deal.  We are just a hard working farming family that is grateful for the opportunity to serve you. We’ve got cows right outside our store with picnic tables along the fence line of the pasture for some of the most peaceful seats around. You can walk next door to the farm and pet our calves; they love that! Just watch out—some of our chickens like to follow people around hoping something may drop that they can gobble up.

So come stop by! Flayvors is located at 129 South Maple St. in Hadley and is open year round.

Photos: 1, 2, 3