Life’s a ‘peach’ at The Orchard Stephenville. (And delicious too!)
Updated: Jul 26, 2020
Nestled on 25 acres down a gravel road just off U.S. Hwy. 281 sits a sweet slice of heaven: The Orchard Stephenville.
The sprawling Texas land is dotted with 1,000 peach trees that are churning out the best fruit you will ever sink your teeth into.
I traveled to the orchard on Tuesday morning, just after a nice rain.
The ground was damp and the air was filled with the smells of summer – fresh air, green grass and, yes, peaches.
Owners Graham and Tiffany Slaughter met me on the side of the road where I stood near the trees bustling with fresh fruit.
They shared the story about how their hobby has transformed into a year-round business they juggle while raising four daughters.
“Several years ago I asked Graham to plant a couple of peach trees at our house,” Tiffany said. “He told me he didn’t like peaches, but he planted them anyway.”
She laughed as she told the story because the irony was coming.
After tasting the first peaches pulled from those trees, Graham changed his mind.
“I discovered that peaches taste good,” he said.
So he began researching ways to grow more of them.
“He read books and talked to peach farmers and then we started planting,” Tiffany said.
It was really that simple. Sort of.
GROWING THE PERFECT PEACH
Tiffany grew up in Erath County and graduated from Stephenville High School in 2001. Her love for Erath County runs deep.
The couple purchased the land where the orchard is now located about five years ago and started planting peach trees four years ago.
Last year’s crop was destroyed by hail so this is the first summer they have officially been in business.
And it’s been brisk.
“We sell out as quickly as we pick them,” Tiffany said.
The peaches become available for sale about once a week on the orchard’s website.
“We get up early in the morning and pick, wash and sort the peaches,” she said. “Then we grade them.”
When that’s complete, an announcement is made that the next round of peaches is for sale and the race to purchase begins.
(They cost $2.50 per pound.)
The Slaughters have such a loyal following that they sell out in hours, sometimes quicker than that.
The peaches are incredibly fresh with just the right color, softness and smell.
“A peach will stop ripening as soon as you pick it,” Graham told me. “It will get less acidic and grow softer, but the sugar stops developing.
“Our peaches are not like the ones in the store which are picked for firmness and appearance rather than taste.”
I also learned that a green hue near the stem is an indicator that a peach is not ready to be picked.
HERE’S ANOTHER SECRET
If you want to get your hands on a few of these peaches, here is what you have to do.
The couple has set up a way for customers to get text alerts as soon as a new batch of peaches becomes available.
To get on the list, send the message @peachme to the number 81010, then follow the prompts.
The text alerts are from Remind (used for schools) so you will be asked if you are a student, teacher or parent.
“We tell our customers to answer that question how they want,” Tiffany said with a laugh.
I signed up as a student – and now I wait.
I wait for that little ding on my phone that will tell me The Orchard Stephenville has peaches ready for purchase and that it’s time to buy.
The Husband is looking forward to that cobbler I plan to make.
Visit my food page, The Crumb, on Beneath the Surface News to get a recipe for peach salsa!