New owners eager to carry on Community Orchard tradition

—Submitted photo
The Stucky family stands outside of the Community Orchard after becoming owners of Fort Dodge landmark. The Stucky’s bought the orchard from Greg and Bev Baedke. Standing in front are Erin, 6, and Jack 10. In back are Denny, Emily and Charlie, 12.

Once Denny and Emily Stucky gained ownership of the Community Orchard, they quickly found out how important it was to the community.

When the Stuckys posted their announcement on Facebook, they were quickly flooded with congratulations and good luck announcements from family, friends and patrons.

“We are extremely proud to be owners of the Community Orchard,” said Emily Stucky, who is a 2005 Fort Dodge Senior High School graduate. “I knew it was a big deal, but after we made our Facebook, I realized how big of a deal it was.

“I read through each and every comment and realized how excited everyone was for us and the community.”

The couple was born and raised in Fort Dodge and knows how important the landmark is to the community.

—Submitted photo
Denny Stucky and his wife Emily, stand outside of the Community Orchard. The Stuckys bought the orchard from Greg and Bev Baedke. The Baedkes have been at the orchard for over 50 years and owners for over 40.

“It didn’t take long to figure out how important the orchard is to the community,” said Denny Stucky, 2000 St. Edmond High School graduate. “As kids, my mom and dad would take us out as a family and we would have apple dumplings and cinnamon ice cream.

“It is a neat place and it means a lot to the community and surrounding communities.”

Greg and Bev Baedke have run the Community Orchard for more than four decades. The Baedkes, who are nearing their 70s, decided it was time to step back.

After a discussion one night on vacation, the idea of the orchard coming up for sale was brought up and after heading home and discussing the possibility, the Stuckys jumped at the chance.

“It came out of nowhere. We were eating dinner on vacation and it came up in conversation that they would think about selling the orchard,” Denny Stucky said. “At the end of the conversation, we got to talking and got excited about the opportunity and the chance to be part of it and continue the way the orchard was.

—Submitted photo
The Stucky children, Jack, 10; Erin, 6; and Charlie, 12, sit on the big chair at the Community Orchard.

“We came home from vacation and made it happen. We were able to work it out.”

The Stuckys took ownership of the Community Orchard on Monday.

For the past 15 years Denny Stucky worked for Dale’s Petroleum Service which built propane and anhydrous plants. Emily Stucky had been a mortgage loan officer for 15 years.

“When my youngest Erin was born, I took a break from work and I was at the Back 40 Playground,” she said. “I was always out here with all of my kids. When I was going through pictures, there were so many photos at the Back 40 — the kids love it.

“I didn’t realize how big a part of our lives that it was. We always go to the pumpkin patch and the Back 40. It’s been a tradition for our kids and I remember going as a kid.”

The Stuckys took ownership of the Community Orchard and the Baedkes have been by their side ever since and plan on being there through the transition.

“Quite honestly, if they hadn’t offered to be here through the transition, I don’t know how we would be able to do this,” Denny Stucky said. “This place has grown so much and there are so many parts of the orchard.

“We are so fortunate and appreciative of them being so willing to work with us as one of their own. It wouldn’t happen and couldn’t happen without them.”

Emily Stucky had the same feelings.

“They want the Community Orchard to succeed,” she said. “We would be completely lost without them.”

The Baedkes, who have been part owners since 1981 and full owners since 1991, were happy to find a family with such passion for the Community Orchard.

“There is a lot of emotion in selling. We’ve been doing it for over 50 years and it’s our baby,” said Bev Baedke. “We have a great family taking over. We are blessed right now that these guys are so excited.

“They are going to rock with it.”

Greg Baedke, who grew up in the pumpkin patch as an eight year old in the 1960s, will be right by the Stuckys side through the process.

“We will be staying on for a year,” he said. “We will be here while they learn and they can see the process through each month.

“They are very personable people and are not afraid to talk. Right now they’re learning the customs, but they will do a great job.”

The Stuckys have a lot of ideas about the orchard, but admit it will be a learning process.

“We have to walk before we run,” Denny Stucky said. “We have a lot of ideas, but the first year is going to be wait and see. It will definitely be a process.

“We are so appreciative of the Baedkes and the community’s support that is pulling for us.”

Denny, 40 years old, and Emily, 35 have three children, Charlie, 12; Jack, 10; and Erin, 6.


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