Just east of Bend sits a 1970s farmhouse on a 3-acre plot, complete with chickens, horses, goats, dogs, cats, a small garden and the cottage kitchen of Annie Skelton, owner of Farmhouse Pies. You may have noticed her brightly colored teal camper at various farmers markets around Central Oregon, where her homemade pies sell out before the markets end. After stumbling upon Farmhouse Pies at the Downtown Bend Farmers Market, and the third attempt at getting my hands on these popular pies, Skelton invited me to her farm to see where the nostalgic baked goods are made.
Walking up to her wrought iron gate outside of her home, I'm instantly hypnotized by the aroma of freshly baked pies. Skelton's kitchen is small and quaint but full of the charm that accompanies a 40-year-old country kitchen. She shows me around her property, introducing me to her "girls"—the three chickens who provide the home with organic eggs—goats, horses, dogs and children.
The grand finale comes when I'm led to the room where it all happens: the baking area. All of the pies are prepped on her kitchen island, but kept fresh and hot in a room equipped with an industrial oven, adjacent to her cottage kitchen.
"We make family trips out to Kiyokawa Family Orchard in Hood River on the weekends and pick apples together." Annie Skeltontweet this
In accordance with Oregon Cottage Food Laws, the pies can be made from the kitchen in her farmhouse. This allows for easy access to fresh rhubarb grown in the garden outside of her kitchen window and eggs from her chickens. While not all of the produce is grown on Skelton's farm, it's sourced organically and locally.
"We make family trips out to Kiyokawa Family Orchard in Hood River on the weekends and pick apples together," she says. Family is paramount to Skelton, which played a major factor in her decision to start Farmhouse Pies four years ago.
When Skelton's youngest child began to approach school age, she wanted to explore a business that could keep her balanced as both a mother and a wife. Having won her fair share of blue ribbons at the county fair, it only seemed appropriate to pursue a career in baking. "I brought 25 pies to my first market at the Northwest Crossing Saturday Farmers Market. I had to wear sunglasses because I was tearing up each time someone bought a pie," she remembers. "During one of my first weeks, I had an older gentleman tell me he hadn't had a great homemade pie since his mother passed many years ago. He patted his heart as he chose his pie. That's when I knew I was hooked on making something that was bringing joy and nostalgia for my customers." (Go ahead and grab a tissue, we'll wait.)
At each of the markets there are old favorites such as Classic Apple Pie made from Oregon and Washington-grown apples in an all-butter crust, made with Gravenstein, Pippin, Mutsu and Granny Smith variations. Berry lovers can enjoy the triple berry made with Oregon marionberries, raspberries and blueberries. Seasonal favorites include the summer fruit crisp, loaded with stone fruit, berries and apples—an appetizing personal favorite. When the leaves begin to change, specials include the bourbon pear crumble, made with two types of pears, and Buffalo Trace Bourbon. And, of course, the crowd-pleasing pumpkin maple pie, made with fresh pumpkin and swirled with a creamy maple filling.
While the farmers markets are the easiest place to find Skelton's pies, special orders can be made at any time. Connect with Farmhouse Pies on Facebook for up-to-date locations through Thanksgiving, including Fall Fest and the Sisters Harvest Faire.
At most markets, the Skelton family is all hands on deck. "My oldest helps fold boxes each week and rings up customers at the market. Summer is a busy season for us as a family, but they love what I do—or maybe they just love when I make an extra pie for them!" she laughs as she explains, "I love that my kids get to see me working hard and growing a business from scratch."