Nestled under the awning of a certain boot store in town is a snack stand with faux flamingos perched in front. Flamingo Shaved Ice is at a casual glance just a snow cone stand. But there is more to Charles May's business than that.
May is an organic farmer and uses this venue to sell his produce as well. And he plans to branch out within the narrow confines of the trailer to offer other healthful treats as the season segues into cooler temperatures.
Question: You seem to have put a healthier twist on a summertime favorite. What makes your snow cones different?
Answer: “I'm the only one making a real watermelon snow cone. I put slices of organic melon in it. Then I top it with the watermelon flavoring.
“I use 20% less sugar in the syrup. And I haven’t had one person complain the snow cone wasn’t sweet enough. In fact one little child said, ‘Wow, this is really sweet.’ And I thought if it was sweet enough for him, it must be very sweet.
“And I only use pure cane sugar and purified water to make the ice. That makes it a little different.”
Question: You are also an organic farmer and have recently started the Stephenville Organic Garden Club. How do you couple that with a snow cone stand?
Answer: “I had a big year growing tomatoes. I thought, 'What if I had a little produce stand?' And I thought about selling snow cones at the same time. I want to take it to the next level and get my food management certificate and cook also. So I hope to add some food items later.”
Question: Fall is just around the corner, and snow cone stands typically shut down for the cooler months. What are your plans for that?
Answer: “I intend to continue with the snow cone business. And next year my organic farm will be in full blossoming with people knowing I am here. I want to sell my produce here. As things progress with the business, I will add healthy foods like gumbo and soups.
“My wife and I are going to take the business into the late fall and see how it progresses. Since we are going to do a bit of food this fall, we are going to keep the snow cone business going and see how the people like it. We can add hot teas or apple ciders.
“I plan on having a fall garden, and I want to see how it does because there is a market out there for real, home grown produce that is organic with no pesticides. People are more health conscious now. What people used to think of as something for a bunch of ‘hippies’ are saying, ‘That makes good sense.’”