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Gardener and baker shares her talents

Tammi Haverly

Tammi Haverly adds another tray of fresh apple cider donuts at Valley Orchard in Cherry Valley, Ill. Earlier this year, she made thousands of donuts in one day to celebrate the farm’s 45th anniversary.

CHERRY VALLEY, Ill. — Tammi Haverly has had a variety of interesting jobs, including being a math and physical education teacher, working in a construction office, working at a home and garden center and being a farm manager at a winery.

Today she is a baker at an orchard.

Most all of her jobs have included food or farming. That interest started as a child on her grandpa’s farm in Davis Junction in north central Illinois.

“When I was a senior in high school, my dad bought an 11-acre farmette in nearby Stillman Valley. It was in a Mayberry community” with a small town feeling, she said.

Her dad was active in FFA and 4-H. Her daughter, Jordan, showed cattle.

Haverly took some horticulture classes in college but pure agriculture classes were mostly the domain of boys then. She chose to become a teacher.

“I guess I wasn’t ready yet,” Haverly said.

When she was ready, she ran her own business designing and maintaining gardens for customers and has remained in food and farm-related careers.

Haverly says her husband, Jim, is a better cook, but she is a better baker.

“Baking is more exact,” she said. “You have to weigh it out.”

It suits her well as she bakes donuts, pies and other treats for visitors at Valley Orchard in Cherry Valley in north central Illinois.

Earlier this year, she made more than 3,200 apple cider donuts in one day to celebrate the orchard’s 45th anniversary in 21 batches using a recipe she came up with after consulting with others and experimenting.

“There’s a secret ingredient,” she said.

Raoul Bergersen, who founded the 35-acre orchard, said the pick-your-own raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apples and pumpkins bring people to the farm in summer and fall. The orchard includes more than 30 varieties of apples.

The orchard is also an educational place as guests learn about how apples are grown. Haverly, still a teacher at heart, enjoys the school kids visiting her kitchen and learning more about farming.

When Haverly is not cooking, she spends a lot of time gardening. She grows her produce in barrels because the soil in Winnebago County is very sandy. Her barrel gardens include white cucumbers, carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, beets, green onions, Swiss chard, tomatoes, peppers, kale and Brussels sprouts.

“I like simple,” she said of recipes. She enjoys baking from recipes that have a short list of ingredients and not many steps.

She likes it that it turns out the same every time.

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Phyllis Coulter is an Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.

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