Orchard donates apples to Sevier Food Ministry

Oct. 26, 2013 @ 11:30 PM

Sevier County Food Ministry Director Jim Davis is always looking for inexpensive ways to supply the county's needy families with fresh fruits and vegetables.

It's always an uphill battle, as those foods, pound for pound, are much more expensive — meaning less bang for the buck for the nonprofit agency that seeks to help Sevier Countians in need.

Enter Jack and Sandi Bailey.

The pair, who moved here from Memphis in the late 1990s, own Sevierville's Mountain View Orchard.

When Jack, a retired dentist, and Sandi relocated here, they wanted to get into some sort of farming, and apples were the way to go.

As a college student at UT-Martin, Jack had rejuvenated an old apple orchard behind the house he was renting.

Nearly 40 years later, when he and Sandi moved to Sevierville, apples were the natural choice.

"I had been a fan of apples, and it was kind of a light-switch moment," Bailey said Friday.

On Thursday, the Baileys donated 20 bushels of their harvest, Arkansas black apples, to the food ministry.

"I'm glad to have enough that I can do that — we both are," Jack said of the couple's donation. "And I'm sure Jim's happy too."

"Helping as many people as we are, it's hard to get any fresh produce," Davis said Friday. "Apples, lemons anything like that. It's so expensive now. To be able to give out something fresh is a huge blessing, a huge blessing for our neighbors."

Sandi Bailey is a regular volunteer at the ministry and serves on its steering committee.

"We'll always be there for the food ministry if we're able to," Jack said.

This year was a particularly good apple harvest, after an off year last season.

"We've had a couple of major losses here in the last couple of years," Bailey said. "It's been really peculiar."

But this year things got back to normal

"We had a wonderful crop this year despite the rain," Bailey said.

Davis welcomes the contribution.

"A lot of times (people using the food ministry) don't go to the produce section because it's so expensive," he said.

This year, because of wet weather, many local donors didn't have as much to give from their own home gardens, so Mountain View's donation is especially appreciated.

"We have four or five community gardens (that donate)," Davis said. "(But) there wasn't a lot this year because the weather was so bad (for growing).

"But it's the thought that counts, and being able to give anything fresh is great."

Davis said the 20-bushel donation means roughly 2,000-2,500 fresh apples for the needy. He said the ministry was distributing eight apples to a bag.