BEAVERDAM — An inherent desire to be his own boss and return to the field of agriculture led Gary Bassett to leave the corporate world to develop his own apple orchard.
Sugar Creek Orchard, located at 5395 Sugar Creek Road in Beaverdam, is the result of five years of planning, planting and harvesting, as well as a leap up faith for the former business intelligence software developer.
“I found that I really don’t fit well in the corporate world where I’m not in charge,” said Bassett, owner of Sugar Creek Orchard. “Now that I’m out of the corporate world, I’m all in on this.”
The road to the apple orchard wasn’t easy, however. Up until the fall, Bassett maintained his position as a business intelligence software developer as he was trying to get his business off the ground. He didn’t even start harvesting apples until last year when the trees began to bear fruit.
Even then, Bassett didn’t sell a single apple. Instead, he gave away thousands of pounds of apples to family, friends and members of the community who heard about his endeavor through word of mouth.
“Last year I just wasn’t ready to sell anything,” he said. “I didn’t have business insurance, or a lot of other things you have to have to face the public. I just ended up giving everything away.”
Now, Bassett’s company is fully certified as an LLC, and he has begun selling the apples he’s spent half a decade cultivating. He said he and his wife have planted close to 1,000 apple trees on 10 acres of land.
Bassett, who has a degree in agronomy from The Ohio State University, sells more than 30 varieties of apples, including gala, fuji, honeycrisp, braester and more. He grows the apples in two separate fields on his father’s property in Beaverdam, where he also sells them.
In addition to apples, Bassett sells candles — mostly apple-scented — and plans to start producing apple jam, cider and sauce. Before he ventures out, Bassett wants to establish a strorefront on the property. Currently, he sells his products out of a fruit stand.
In the future, Bassett’s ultimate goal is to develop a “full orchard experience.”
“I’d like to have a place where families can come out and not just buy apples, but also enjoy hayrides through the field, a corn maze and that sort of thing,” he said. “I’d love to have a shop with every conceivable type of apple product.
“I envision a joyful place to visit in the fall that is welcoming and accepting.”
When asked why people should buy his apples instead of from a grocery store, Bassett noted that his products are fresher and are locally grown.
“They’re going to be fresher than any apple you can buy anywhere because our time to market is shorter than anywhere,” he said. “They’re absolutely fresh, and you can definitely tell the difference.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima