SPARTA, Michigan — There is no shortage of incredible apple orchards in West Michigan. But with so many options, how do you choose where to indulge? We — 13 ON YOUR SIDE digital producers Riley and Amy — have set out to find the tastiest spots in the area and are documenting our journey with a new series called 13 Eats.
13 Eats is all about highlighting the best, locally-owned eateries in the Grand Rapids area. And for the month of October, we’re hunting for the best apple orchard donut.
So far on our journey, we have checked out Moelker Orchards & Farm Market and Robinette's Apple Haus & Wineryand. Now, we’re exploring the beauty and goodness of Schwallier’s Country Basket. For all those who love Michigan autumn, you’re in for a treat.
About Schwallier's Country Basket
Located in the heart of Michigan’s apple capital, Schwallier’s Country Basket is a slice of hometown, autumnal paradise. The family-owned farm opened its doors in 1989 and has been a sweet spot for fall fun ever since.
The farm has humble beginnings and started as a roadside produce stand. But since then, the operation has grown exponentially. The place has it all — a farm market, a corn maze, a pumpkin patch, a wagon ride and even a cow train. And it’s all topped off with a bakery chock-full of delicious, beautiful fall donuts.
►Learn more about the farm here.
The Most Important Part... The Donuts
The Country Basket may give you the small-town feel everyone craves from an apple orchard in the fall, but the donuts really drive it home. The desserts taste like homemade, tried-and-tested perfection in every bite. But the best part may be the huge variety of options — each more delicious than the last.
For the taste, we think the donuts were a steal, with one for $1.25, six for $7.50 and a dozen for $14.
Upon the first visit, we opted to each test one classic apple cinnamon and one glazed apple cinnamon (we couldn’t leave without the full experience, right?) And just… wow.
Schwallier's: The Donuts
The classic apple cinnamon was the perfect mix of soft cakeyness and crispy outer layer. The apple flavor was still prominent, despite the strong taste of cinnamon sugar. We even noted little clumps of cinnamon within the dough that placed a bit of crunchiness among the soft inside; if it was an accident, it’s one we hope will be made every time we return.
Still, the glazed cinnamon sugar may be our favorite of all. We figured without the presence of sugar and cinnamon on the outside, the flavors would be less prominent — thankfully, we were wrong. The sugar glaze gave all the crunchiness and fall flavor the donut needed, while the inside remained delightfully the same as the classic apple cinnamon.
When we dream our autumn dreams, it’s this donut that wakes us up, drooling.
►Purchase the donuts online here.
A visit to Schwallier’s is a visit to a perfect little fall getaway. As we walked through the barn doors, we were met with warm lighting, cozy decor and the aroma of sweet, spicy treats. Fall decor and food products line the walls and hang from the ceiling, blanketing visitors in warm colors and handmade, handcrafted goods. We were very impressed by the sheer number of food products that proudly wore a Schwallier’s label. The shop had sauces, jams, mixes and so much more!
On the bakery side of the barn, trays of glistening donuts sat pretty in glass cases, facing a crowd of prepackaged, fresh apples. The sheer number of donuts was astonishing. One could call the group a donut army, as the trays seemed to stretch for miles, each equipped with batches of sugary deliciousness. The overall ambiance of the indoor dwelling was sweet and simple, with pinches of cozy, woodsy vibes.
Schwallier's: The Vibe
While we loved the bakery and farm market, our true love was found outside the barn doors. Schwallier’s is grounded on a beautiful piece of land that is covered in apple trees and pumpkin patches. We loved walking through the rows of sweet, red apples and piles of gourds. The outdoor air felt crisp on our faces and made us feel nice and warm in our flannels. We were lucky to go on a slightly overcast day, which made the fall vibes feel that much more lovely.
But the vibes don’t end there. Personally, we are animal lovers. And this place had just the thing to make us *slightly* freak out from excitement.
Schwallier's: The Land
Just when we thought our visit couldn’t get better, we spotted a tray in the bakery. It was filled with pellets inside Dixie cups and donned a handwritten, cardboard sign that read, “Goat Feed $1.”
Once outside, we were immediately met with the farm scent, and we wandered towards the direction where it grew stronger. Hearing faint baaaahs and clucks, we knew we were in for a treat.
Schwallier's: The Animals
Schwallier’s has multiple enclosures for goats and chickens along the orchard. In these areas, baby goats wander clumsily around their moms and bigger goats climb their enclosure ramps, soaking up the attention from visitors and hoping for a snack. Nearby, chickens gather near the wire fence and peck at one another, while fluffy brown bunnies cuddle up real close.
For us, seeing the animals was the icing on the donut to another perfect orchard visit in the West Michigan autumn.
Schwallier's Country Basket is the perfect blend of down-home farm and big-time operation. To us, it was that sweet spot right between our last two stops — Moelker’s and Robinette’s. The place is cozy and warm. It has a smaller bakery and a cute little shop, but it also has so much more. From wagon rides to corn maze adventures, baked goods to oh SO MUCH honey, the farm has something for every member of the family.
The donuts were delicious and there was a flavor combination for every pallet. The bakery has all the finishes a donut-eater could possibly want, with each flavor coming in multiple combos. The three donut types — Old Fashioned, Apple Cinnamon and Pumpkin Spice — each come in the following topping options: sugared, salted caramel icing, glazed, cream cheese, chocolate icing, chocolate icing with sprinkles, vanilla icing, vanilla icing with sprinkles and plain.
Yep, that’s right. There are SO MANY options. We tried many of them, and let us tell you: They are all delicious. So, donut-wise, this place is a real winner. Add on the fall activities and the whole farm animal, petting zoo situation, and this place is not only a winner; it is a CHAMPION. We loved it, obviously, and would highly recommend a visit for all our fall-loving West Michiganders.
► Schwallier’s Country Basket is located at 1185 9 Mile Rd NW, Sparta, MI 49345
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