One of our most popular flavors each summer is Backyard Mint. Herbal and refreshing -- this popular flavor is made with fresh, organic peppermint from Jorgensen Farms. A few weeks ago I had the chance to interview Val Jorgensen through e-mail …
Born and raised on a dairy farm in Michigan, Val Jorgensen owns a 65 acre farm just outside of Columbus. Val supplies Jeni’s with all of the peppermint we use in our Backyard Mint ice cream. In fact, Val plants beds of peppermint especially for us! According to Val, “farming is a lifestyle that defines who I am.”
Val acts as a beekeeper, grows culinary herbs and raises Romney sheep. With four grown sons who help out when they can (one works at our Short North shop!), Val manages her farm on her own.
Depending on the season, each day is a little bit different. In the spring, Val’s days are spent checking beehives and planting herb beds. In spring, lambs are born in the pasture as well. Summer days are spent weeding and watering plants. “Part of what I enjoy about farming is the changing seasons and the fact that no day or year is the same.”
Farming organically …
Val farms organically because she “believes the product is healthier for the consumer and safer for me as a farmer.” As a registered nurse, a mother of four sons and a breast cancer survivor, she is “aware of how important it is to make healthy choices about what we eat and the ground and air that is in our care.”
“Because I was raised on a large conventional dairy farm in Michigan, I have experienced both ends of the spectrum. [Through my small, organic farm] I meet the people who will be using my product, and when selling at the farmers' market, I actually meet the people who will be eating the food.”
In her words, Val strives to, “humbly
care for the land that is in my care and provide the highest quality food to
local chefs and consumers in Central Ohio.”
Val and Jeni’s Ice Creams …
The peppermint Val grows for us truly is grown in her backyard. “Each year we start a new bed around the farm house. This year we started about 160 peppermint plants in the field because I never want Jeni's to limit backyard mint ice cream production because of a limited amount of Jorgensen Farms mint.”
“My biggest reward is delivering to Jeni's kitchen or a chef in town who gets excited about the fresh herbs, lamb or honey I have produced. It is so rewarding to see how excited they are to use something I have produced on the farm.”
And, most importantly, Val shared her latest favorite at Jeni’s—Lemon and Blueberries! “The lemon is so refreshing and clean and the blueberries taste like fresh berries.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Which begs the question … what’s your favorite seasonal flavor of the moment? Or, better yet, what flavors go well with Backyard Mint?