Apple Picking, Rides to the Pumpkin Patch and Homemade Pies
Stevens Bakery: a Special Destination for Autumn Goodness and Family Fun
By Shelly Calvert
THACKERY - Picking fresh apples—either right off of the tree or choosing from the farm market bin—couldn’t be easier or more fun than it is at Stevens Bakery and Orchard in Champaign County.
The family-run operation has been in business for 23 years, growing a wide variety of apples and pumpkins as well as scratch-baking their own regionally famous homemade pies.
Owned by Chris and Sharon Stevens, the orchard and bakery is located at 7344 Thackeray Rd., just off of State Route 55 near Thackery. Both of their adult children and all six of their grandchildren help out at the family business. In fact, one of them will likely be driving the farm wagon that gives guests a ride back to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch during their busiest months of the year in September and October. It’s a beautiful little ride that not only makes picking the fall crops easy as pie, but also allows visitors to enjoy a nice glimpse of the five acres of fields, orchards and farm outbuildings that create this beautiful setting and support the business.
The orchard was planted at the onset of the pie-baking business with the idea that the Stevens’ would grow the filling for their own fruit pies. According to Sharon, the master pie baker, that plan changed when her pies quickly began outselling the amount of fruit she and her husband could possibly grow. They began sourcing fruit from other growers, so they never use canned fillings or anything with artificial ingredients.
Sharon said they use about 200 pounds of apples per week and that they will make 3,500 pies for Thanksgiving alone. To do this, the family uses a spotless industrial kitchen that they added on to their house. It has the capacity for a three-person staff to make large amounts of pie crusts, process fillings, bake multiple pies at once and store all of the ingredients and finished pies in large cooler units.
The pie business has far exceeded the hopes and dreams of the couple who, in 1998, made a big shift in their livelihood.
After consecutively winning a blue ribbon and grand champion honors at the Champaign County Fair for Sharon’s pecan pie, the Stevenses decided to make pie-baking their family business.
“My husband had to travel for work all the time and he hated it. His last trip was to Argentina, after which he came home and said, ‘I’m not going to do it anymore,’” Sharon recalled, adding that the couple thought of a lot of different ideas to make a living by staying at home, but decided to farm and bake.
Two decades later, Stevens Pies are a favorite in the region, and the delicacies can be found in farm markets and grocery stores from Springfield to Dayton to Columbus and little towns in-between.
“They are all made from scratch and we don’t use any preservatives,” Sharon said, noting that her big baking days
are Wednesday and Thursday.
All pies from the bakery must be ordered in advance and scheduled for pickup. They do not keep extra pies at the bakery. Each day, all the pies are delivered or picked up. They do, however, offer curbside service.
Sharon said the system of running pies out to customers’
vehicles began during the pandemic in 2020. It’s now their standard protocol, which makes customers even happier with their pie pickup, she said.
With more than 1,600 apple trees in their orchard, Sharon said the Honey Crisp variety is the most popular, adding that they also grow Gala, Gingergold, Cortland, Jonathan, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Rome, Granny Smith, Winesap and Melrose, which is the official apple of Ohio.
She said this year’s growing season has been excellent. Both the apple and pumpkin crops are expected to have large yields of high quality produce.
Pumpkins have been a wise complimentary commodity for the family, bringing extra income to the farm while adding another fun fall experience for their guests.
Between apple picking and pumpkin patch excursions, the farm livens up as leaves begin to turn. It is an autumn destination worth the drive for a family adventure and tasty treats, including apple cider.
In the apple shed, guests can purchase pre-picked apples and pumpkins, along with honey from the farm’s own beehives, jams and jellies, pies, local maple syrup and Stevens Farm’s fresh pressed apple cider, which is made fresh on-site.
The farm market is open seven days a week in September and October, with U-pick apples and pumpkins open
on designated weekends. Dates are listed on the business’s Facebook page or residents can call ahead.
Pie flavors include seven different fruit pies, along with specialty pies like chocolate chip cookie, pecan and old-fashioned custard. There are seven different cream pies, including buckeye, and three different “no sugar added” pies.
In all, Sharon has perfected 25 different recipes. A complete listing of all the pies can be found at stevensbakeryandorchard.com.
If you are not able to make it out to the farm, you can get your Stevens Pies fix at Fulton Farms (Troy), Haren’s Market (Troy), Bowman & Landes (New Carlisle), Clark’s Farm Market (Springfield), Brentlinger’s Farm Market (Dayton), Hurley’s Farm Market (Indian Lake), Heart of Ohio Antique Mall (Springfield), The Hill’s Market (Columbus), Weiland’s Market (Clintonville), Schuman’s Meats (Columbus), and Lynd Fruit Farm (Pataskala), to name a few.
“We love them. They are great people and their reputation for their pies is well-known because they have been around for a long time,” said Connor Haren, owner of Haren’s Market, speaking about the Stevens family. “And we love them because they deliver to us. We get pies right out of the oven, so they are crazy fresh.”
Chris Stevens is the “delivery guy,” said Sharon, noting that he has his delivery route down to a science.
“He enjoys delivering the pies and visiting with all our customers,” she said.
Although starting a new business is always risky and a lot of hard work, Sharon said she and Chris are glad they made the choice to start a bakery and farm.
“It has been a great business to share with our children and grandchildren. We did not dream it would turn out like this. We just hoped we would have enough to pay the bills, but God has really blessed us,” she said.
To order pies for pick-up at the bakery, or to inquire about U-pick times, call (937) 788-2873. Order in advance for Thanksgiving and other holidays. Map the location HERE.
Pictured at the top o the page (left to right) Elise Cessna, Sharon Stevens and Olivia Burr, all part of the family operated Stevens Family Bakery & Orchard. Pictured above right is Amy Jentis with Sue Littlejohn in the background. Photos by Matt Bayman.