By Jessica Mozo
Where Jack Bailey’s family is concerned, you might say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The Memphis native spent his childhood learning to bake pies and make jams and jellies with his grandmother. Today he does the same thing at Mountain View Orchard, the Sevier County apple farm he owns with his wife, Sandi.
After practicing dentistry for 28 years, Jack and Sandi fulfilled their longtime dream of moving to the Smoky Mountains and starting an apple orchard. They bought property in Sevierville in 1995 and began planting apple trees in 1997.
By the time Jack retired in 2000, the trees were beginning to bear fruit, and the couple started selling produce and other value-added products to the public in 2005.
“We have 1,800 apple trees and 13 varieties of apples, and we’re going to be adding three or four more varieties in the next few years,” Jack says. “We also grow and sell sweet potatoes, butternut and winter squash, and pumpkins.”
The Baileys are also building a bakery they hope to open in time for their 2009 season.
“One of our top sellers is fried apple pies,” Jack explains, “and we want to branch out into making donuts and pastries this year.” He also makes and sells whole apple pies, fresh apple cider, apple butter, crabapple jelly, plum jam, wild blackberry jam and apple blossom honey from recipes he has collected from his grandmother and other sources.
“We’re planning to add picnic tables, and we need to expand our parking because we were so busy last year,” he says. “We’re seeing more locals and tourists buying in bulk to do their own canning – there’s been a big explosion in this area of people wanting to make their own food. The whole scheme of orchards and fresh markets has been helped a lot by the public’s desire to buy locally grown food.”
When people visit Mountain View Orchard, they often ask to make sure the produce they’re buying is really homegrown.
“People want to know where their food is coming from. We’ve even had some local chefs come and buy fruits and vegetables to use in their restaurants,” Sandi says. “They like our products because they’re purer and taste better than ones at the store. Some growers spray their plants a lot, but ours are less exposed to chemicals.”
Mountain View Orchard is open from September through early November, when the Baileys have several varieties of apples ready to buy in the cooler. Because of the farm’s steep slopes and hilly terrain, they don’t offer pick-your-own apples, but visitors are welcome to stroll through a designated area in the orchard where they can see the fruits growing on the trees.
Back at Mountain View, the Baileys say while running the orchard is a ton of work, they’re enjoying every minute of it. Their biggest challenge?
“Weeds,” Sandi says without hesitation. “We have some friends and relatives who help us out during apple season, but we do most of the weeding ourselves.”
But weeds are a small price to pay for a life surrounded by majestic mountains and sweet, juicy apples.
“I love my office – this is much different than the dentist office I had for nearly 30 years,” Jack says. “And I’m having more and more fun, because I feel like I’m starting to run the farm – it’s not running me. I love the weather, and we love being in the Smokies.”
If You Go…
Mountain View Orchard in Sevierville is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., from around mid-September until the beginning of November. Call ahead at (865) 429-8649 or visit their Web site to plan your visit. They currently grow Ginger Gold, Red Delicious and 11 more varieties of apples, with Honeycrisp and others coming soon.
Check out our favorite apple recipes!