Vanderwendes homemade ice cream & O.A. Newton's latest in irrigation parts, services

April 1, 2014

yle="margin: 0px; text-indent: 12px; font-size: 9px; font-family: Times;">VANDERWENDE'S:

On July 29, 2012, the day after the Delaware State Fair closed, Jimmy and Donna Vanderwende quietly opened an ice cream shop on his parents’ Dutch Ayr Farm near the Delaware-Maryland border on Route 404 (Seashore Highway). They offer homemade ice cream made daily, right on the farm, with the freshest ingredients. This year, with a little more fanfare, the couple will launch the latest phase of that business by putting an ice cream truck on the road. The truck is set up to carry 20 of the 31 flavors the creamery has introduced.

“It’s actually a shop on wheels,” Donna said. “We can do sundaes and our milk shakes, and offer waffle cones.” Add to that banana splits and root beer floats. The truck will literally bring the ice cream store to you.

The ice cream truck won’t have a regular summer route like smaller units that drive through neighborhoods playing familiar tunes which send children scrambling for an ice-cold treat. “We are going to different events,” Donna said, “such as Dover Days in May and perhaps Riverfest in Seaford. We’ve already booked five or six events on weekends, and we’ve even been asked to cater a wedding!”

Weekends are the busiest days at the on-farm shop, as stopping for a cone of homemade ice cream becomes a traditional part of a trip to the beach. On a good Sunday, there might be as many as 350 to 400 cars stopping by. The parking lot is often full, which poses a challenge for Jimmy.

“My next job is to make the parking lot bigger. It’s not safe parking on the road. I want to open up the pasture so people can park there when it’s not wet. We can turn it back to pasture when it’s not the busy season,” Jimmy said.

“The parking situation has cost us business,” he continued. “I’ve seen drivers put their blinker on and slow down, but then they keep going because they think there’s not enough room to park.”

The farm is about the halfway point for many beach-goers from the Western Shore. Folks stop to stretch their legs, see the cows, use the restroom and enjoy the ice cream.  “In hindsight, we should have built the shop bigger and put in another bathroom,” Donna said.

Jimmy added, “We built it and hoped they would come. We just wanted to ease into it. But people started calling, and the next thing we knew, the lot was full. 

Their biggest compliment came a few weeks ago, when a customer with golden retrievers stopped for “doggy sundaes” and asked, “Do you know how big a name you’re getting in Baltimore? That’s all the talk over there.”

Donna explained they sell doggy sundaes — vanilla ice cream with dog treats in it — because so many people travel with pets. The farm shop has become a good place to stop and walk dogs or get water for them. 

“We’ve tried to make it as friendly as we can for people. There’s a fence where cows stand 5 feet on one side and people stand 5 feet away on the other. People from 2-years-old to 80 can stand there for 15 or 20 minutes. Most have never been that close to an animal that big,” Donna continued.

“Usually the people are shy enough and the cows are shy enough that they don’t come in contact. One time, though, a little dog got loose in the pasture. Cows were running everywhere!”

The cows pastured by the shop are all “dry cows,” meaning they’ve finished being milked after the birth of their last calf and are pregnant with another. Sometimes visitors are lucky enough to see a calf being born. “It’s neat to see,” Jimmy said, “especially when that 100-pound calf stands up for the first time.”

The farm itself, purchased in 1954 by William and Ellen Vanderwende, has grown to about 4,000 acres. There are 285 registered Holstein and Jersey cows which are milked daily. The family takes pride in producing great quality milk to sell to Land O’Lakes, but also in being good stewards to the land. The creamery was one more way to combine their love for farming and the land and venture into an additional income-maker, all the while promoting the dairy industry through ice cream and other farm-fresh dairy products.

In addition to ice cream in cones, cups or homemade waffle cones, or pints and quarts frozen solid to “grab and go” from a freezer in the back of the shop, the creamery offers specialty flavored milk, butter and several types of cheese. In fall and winter, there are homemade apple dumplings, with ice cream, of course! Ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cakes are available and the cakes can be personalized with 24 hours notice. 

The Vanderwende’s started with standard recipes, then tweaked them a little. “We like them. We’ve not heard many complaints,” Donna said. 

The top seller is peanut butter fudge crunch. The whole family has been personally involved in working on the flavors. Jimmy said, “It doesn’t take much to do something different and hit it. That’s what you keep,” he added.

Ice cream making isn’t limited to family. Taylor Vanvorst, fiance of the Vanderwendes’ oldest son, Jesse, has been with the shop since the beginning and makes just about all the ice cream. Morgan Messick, girlfriend of their middle son, Cody, is getting involved, too, along with their youngest son, Will.

During the winter, the shop has been open Friday through Monday in the afternoons. The decision to stay open was partly to keep good employees. “We don’t want to lose them, and they have bills to pay, too.” Jimmy said they could afford to be open with less business “for a month or two, as long as we don’t lose a lot. Our money is made from April through August or September.”

The venture has been fun, so far, Jimmy said. “One guy told us, you’re in business to make money, but have fun doing it. Making money made it fun, but it was fun before we knew we were making money. It’s fun meeting people.”

To order an ice cream cake, or a pie, or to arrange for the ice cream truck to be at a special event, call 349-5110. Visit the website at for a list of flavors.





Susan Rider, wife of Robert F. Rider Jr., president and CEO of O. A. Newton in Bridgeville, tells the story of a customer coming to the Irrigation Parts Department with a plastic bag full of “miscellaneous parts.” The customer turned the bag upside down on the counter, but before he could ask, Norman Passwaters, parts manager for 39 years, took a minute and looked over the parts, and said “I know exactly what you need. I’ll be right back.”

“It is people like Norman Passwaters – longtime, knowledgeable, dedicated employees — and relationships that make O. A. Newton a success,” said Rob Rider.

A full service commercial irrigation company, O. A. Newton began serving the agriculture community in 1916 when Oliver Ambrose Newton’s son Warren Newton came home from the University of Delaware to join his father’s farming operation. Warren had an entrepreneurial spirit and a keen interest in poultry, which led him to begin a poultry breeding operation. That operation grew into the equivalent of today’s poultry integrator. 

Along with the poultry business, Warren started an agricultural machinery repair shop in the 1920s. “This is the piece of the business that morphed into the irrigation company we have today,” Rob Rider explained.  Along the way, the repair shop started selling sprayers, International Harvester tractors and other agricultural equipment. In 1969, the company sold the poultry operation to Armor Swift, who later sold it to Perdue.  

The building that currently sits on the corner of Sussex Highway and Newton Road (Rt. 404), was built in 1946 to accommodate selling International Harvester. As farmers came into the parking lot, an array of International Harvester equipment was displayed on the front lawn. Inside the building, large windows spanning the front façade flooded the showroom with light to show off Frigidaire and GE appliances. The building, like the business, has changed over the years. Last year, O. A. Newton’s facility came full circle back to an open floor plan that they had at one time. Prior to the update, customers could only purchase parts through Norman at the parts counter. Today, O. A. Newton still provides their customers with full service where patrons can check out with sales staff or browse through items on display.    

“Over the years, the one constant in the business has been irrigation,” Rob said. “We’ve seen it go from moving aluminum pipe with sprinklers on top, to modern technology of GPS guided corner systems that communicate information to the operator’s cell phone. 

Irrigation has become highly technical along with everything else today. O. A. Newton has embraced all of the newest technologies in irrigation management and works to share with our customers the latest expertise available.” In 2014, O. A. Newton is offering three technical seminars to update customers on the latest equipment available through Valmont Irrigation. The first seminar was in March and the next two coming up are in April and May. Call 337-8211 to attend.  

O. A. Newton sells Valley Pivot Irrigation Systems, Kifco water reels, and John Deere Water drip irrigation products. All three companies are long-standing reputable businesses that offer a unique type of irrigation; whether they need to water acres of crops with Valley Pivot Irrigation, or to water a sports field or a smaller garden area, Kifco’s portable reels transport black plastic hose to both agricultural and sports fields to apply one-pass irrigation. Drip irrigation is laid underneath plastic mulch for watering watermelons or vegetables. For nurseries and greenhouses, O. A. Newton can lay out a drip system with individual emitters for each plant.  “Anything that revolves around getting a crop watered, we can do,” Rob said.

Rob’s father, Bob Rider Sr., spent 54 years in the business before he passed away in 2012. He was married to Jane Newton, one of Warren’s three daughters, and Rob Rider Jr. is one of their five children. Rob and his wife, Susan, run the business along with 28 other dedicated, talented, and loyal employees including Rob’s stepchildren, Lauren and Tyler Mills.  

O. A. Newton is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturdays through summer from 7 a.m. through noon. Call 337-8211 for more information, or for urgent service outside of business hours. For more on O. A. Newton’s irrigation products, visit online at  
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