Author: Erica Scranton

The Beauty of the Apple Blossoms

One of our favorite parts about spring on the farm here at Bishop’s Orchards are the apple blossoms! If you live local, you probably saw them as you drove on Long Hill Road behind our farm market. They’re those pretty pink and white flowers on the trees right along the hillside. They are always a true sight to see and make springtime that much more enjoyable. But what some people might not know is there’s much more to them than their beauty. They serve an important purpose that impacts fruit production on the tree. So, let’s go through everything you need to know about the lifecycle of an apple blossom:

When They Blossom

Apple blossoms typically bloom anywhere from early spring to late summer. The earlier apple varieties like McIntosh, Gala, Honeycrisp and Fuji would be the first ones you see, and the later varieties like Macoun, Mutsu and Pink Lady will blossom later on in the summer. The center blossom, also called the king blossom, opens first and may grow a larger apple than the other blossoms.

Pollination Time

In order for these blossoms to become fruit, they need to cross-pollinate. Some varieties can self-pollinate but when cross-pollinated with other trees and varieties, it’s been shown to produce better fruit. We here at Bishop’s Orchards bring in our own bees to help with the pollination process. Once complete, the blossom falls off and over time, grows into fruit.

Fun Facts

  1. Not only do the blossoms turn into apples, but the blossoms can be eaten themselves! It turns out, they are high in antioxidants and have a sweet flavor to them. When made into a tea you can experience benefits like clear complexion, better digestion and stress relief. In addition, they can make a great whiskey, jelly and are wonderful paired with other edible flowers as a garnish. Like anything, they should be eaten in moderation.
  2. The apple blossom is a member of the rose family.
  3. Most apple blossoms are known for their white and pink color. But how pink they turn actually depends on the apple variety.

Now that you know all this information about apple blossoms, you probably want to go see some. So, if you’re looking for a scenic drive, come by our farm market in the beginning to mid-May every year in Guilford, CT. They can be seen right from the road and the parking lot at our store!

 

FEATURED PERSONALITY: Carly Pastore

Carly Pastore is one of the most recent members of the Bishop’s Orchards team. Coming to us with a background in sales and marketing for several different natural food brands, Carly’s experience made her a great fit for the team and as our Retail Marketing Specialist position here at Bishop’s.

Carly does anything from setting up samples for customers to taste, watching and studying different food categories and trends, restocking any displays as needed, to conversing with any customer who wants to chat. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to be downstairs interacting with customers while also contributing to plans on marketing strategy, product acquisition, category management and our Loyalty Rewards Program,” said Carly.

Not having experienced our busy season in the fall yet, Carly is anxious but excited to learn where exactly everyone is traveling from. “My goals are to bring new and innovative methods to the table, increasing product awareness and product use, and to build our Loyalty Rewards Program so customers can take advantage of what we have to offer and reap benefits by doing so.” That includes people that are traveling from right down the road, to customers that are coming from out of state.

In the meantime, we recently added a new loose bulk set to our bulk foods department. Carly explains, “there are four new items that include: Rolled Oats, Quick Oats, Brown Basmati Rice and Quinoa. They’re all USDA organic items at very competitive prices. We want to give our loyal customers another reason to choose us over our neighboring large chain grocery stores.”

As for what’s to come, you can expect to see some new looks and displays coming to Bishop’s that will be filled with new items. This is so we can offer customers a more broad selection of grocery staples and specialty products, tailored specifically to serve all that populate the community.

Carly’s favorite part about working at Bishop’s in the people. “It’s a community of people who have been loyal to the company for decades which makes it a very desirable place to work and grow. It seems like everyone gets an opportunity to spend time outside at some point during the day, or during the year which is great for overall wellness and understanding of what we are…a Farm Market.”

 

New Chef, New Meals

Lately, exciting things have been happening at Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market. Going into 2018 we wanted to communicate with our customers a little more, discovering what they were and were not coming in for. We have heard our customers and acknowledge the need for a strong, versatile, Prepared Food Department. In sprucing up the department, we hired a NEW, local chef, bringing his flavors back into the community. Chef Michael Aragon is most known for his eclectic menu from Whitfield’s On The Green. His contributions to our team have been mind blowing, both in taste and team morale!

Michael brings with him his very own recipes, made with clean, all natural ingredients. Some of his newest dishes include a Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with a Mustard Seed Glaze, Beef and Vegetable Lasagna, Meatloaf, Chicken Pad Thai, Crusted Pork Chops and plenty of side dishes like Roasted Potatoes, Roasted Cauliflower, Spaghetti Squash and our Bishop’s Own Asparagus Medley, just to name a few. The feedback has been incredible, with the price and ingredients being just right! The best part, whenever possible, Chef Michael features Bishop’s ingredients or items in his dishes, like our seasonal asparagus or our heirloom tomato marinara.

Roasted, Free Range Whole Chickens are coming out of our kitchen. A dry rub is used for seasoning these 2.5lb chickens. They are the perfect size for a family of four, providing leftovers for lunch the next day. Our Roasted Chickens are also used in a NEW Chicken Curry Salad. It is great when served over a bed of greens, or simply by itself, with seasoning just right so as to not overwhelm. Along with our complete meal line-up, our Grab & Grill Meals have been remade with new recipes, different cuts of meat, and fresh made sauces on the side. Featured meals have included Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes, Ahi Tuna with Squash and Peppers, Chicken and Asparagus, Sausage & Peppers, Peppered Salmon with Mushrooms, and Flank Steaks with Potatoes. Everything you need, still in one bag, with a sealed separation from the meat and vegetables.

Everyday we are amazed to see the continued efforts from this department in creating new dishes. You will start to see even more growth in our desserts, including our NEW Edible Cookie Dough flavors!! The direction we are headed in is more fresh and trendy than ever!! Jump on board this shopping experience!!

 

Picking Fresh with Bishop’s

Tis’ the season when an abundance of locally grown produce starts making its way into our Farm Market. We LOVE this time of year when picking fresh is easier than ever. Whether it be Bishop’s Own produce, or from other local farms, this time of year is only the beginning of what’s to come.

Right now we have a limited supply of our popular Bishop’s Asparagus. This hot commodity hits the farm market anywhere from late April to early May. This year we were on the late side since cooler temperatures lasted into spring. Now with temperatures almost consistently in the 70’s, our asparagus is at its peak season, coming in hot! We expect to have our asparagus for another three weeks, taking us hopefully right into strawberry season, which starts early to mid June for market and end of June for PYO. We still have our Bishop’s Potted Herbs available in the Farm Market. Soft grounds make this the perfect time for planting these plants in your own garden!

Dave Anderson Farms’ Spinach is also available in the Farm Market. Their large leaf spinach came in early May and will be in the Farm Market for some of June. Not only is this spinach a huge hit with our customers, but our staff as well!! When word gets out, you can guarantee that multiple employees are taking some home with them! Anderson Farms is located in Wethersfield, CT and has been a family farm since 1856. They grow around thirty different fruits and vegetables that they distribute all over the state. If you are a registered CSA Shareholder, you will probably see some of their items in your CSA share this summer. For more information on Anderson Farms, check out their featured blog!

A week ago local tomatoes were brought into the Farm Market from March Farms, located in Bethlehem, CT. The color and flavor of these native tomatoes is amazing, with soft skin and a juicy sweet inside. Customers love these tomatoes, usually enjoying them in a salad. March Farms has been around since 1915 with about 130 acres and dozens of greenhouses. Other produce that is their specialty include sweet corn, squash, blueberries and lettuce!

Keep an eye out for more locally grown produce coming into the Farm Market. You will see local squash, lettuce, strawberries and much more!

 

Convenience Eating Made Nutritious

Convenience more than ever plays a prominent role in food choices of today’s consumers. It determines where, when, why, what, and how you eat and prepare your meals, with two perceptions of convenience being related to both time and effort. The demand for convenience foods is at an all time high, especially with home delivery for groceries, meal kits and internet shopping. Here at Bishop’s Orchards we have added convenient traits to certain products marked healthy/beneficial, to compete with this demand, while staying fresh, local and true to our name.

Convenience foods don’t always have to mean take-out and prepared foods in the form of canned soups or quick-cook pasta and rice. Here at the farm market, we limit the amount of processed foods due to the amount of added artificial ingredients. Our Prepared Meals are made with fewer ingredients, with “real foods” on the list. These meals can be heated in the microwave or oven, with side dishes to accompany. Try our Grab N’ Go Crock Pot or Grill Meals, made with fresh ingredients here with everything you need in one bag! They feed a family of 4-5, with no gluten, vegan & vegetarian options available! In the near future, you will even have the option to order online. We will be offering a Webcart option, for ordering all your Bishop’s groceries, for pick-up right at the farm market, taking Grab N’ Go to a whole new level.

Despite the time and effort required for meal prepping, there still comes a sense of gratification when you “prepare” a meal. For this purpose, “Meal Prep Mondays,” or any day of the week, have become a huge success by providing a designated & convenient time set aside. Bishop’s can be your one-stop-shop for enough vegetables, fruit, meats & healthy carbs to plan individual meals or family servings. Everything from salad mixes and marinated, diced & potatoes, to stuffed chicken breast and side dishes. Plan ahead with batch cooking – making a meal in a large quantity that you can freeze in small portions. While you are portioning off, plan healthy snacks to have on hand at all times! Include no-sugar added yogurts, whole fruit, hummus packs with pretzels or veggies, etc. Store them in the fridge or pantry, creating a strategy with minimal time but long run success.

Remember, when thinking of convenience, always be conscious of keeping “healthy” a main factor, with Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market & Winery in mind as your sole provider.

True Meaning of Comfort Foods

We all at some point have heard a reference to “comfort foods.” To everyone specific comfort foods can be different, but more often than not, these items tend to land on the “non-healthful” side. At Bishop’s Orchards our definition of comfort food is valued differently. We challenge our customers to find comfort in where their food comes from. Though often a personal decision, we urge all our customers to care about where your food comes from. Hesitation with this comes from worry of disrupting your lifestyle. However with Farm Markets like us, our goal and mission is to provide a comfortable shopping environment, with all the information you need to know where your food comes from.

Comfort in Farm to Table:

Improve your family’s relationship with food by educating and appreciating where your food comes from. Help yours kids understand how vegetables are grown, how cheese is made, how cows and chickens are raised and emphasize that eating is an experience, which also nurtures your body. Inside Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market, not only will you find our own, locally grown produce and signature items, but you will also see a strong partnership with other local farms in our Cheese Department, Produce Department and our Specialty Fresh Meat Department. Our Fresh Meat Department, though small, stands out, featuring meat that is naturally raised, free range, grass fed, organic, natural and without use of antibiotics or growth hormones.

Comfort in What You Put Into Your Body:

Ever wonder why a bag of pre-cut & washed greens, is less expensive than unpackaged romaine hearts with dirt residue? How about a can of green beans verse the ones fresh from the produce department? When you bring home shelf stable and processed foods, this generally means you are buying a bunch of ‘add-ons’ that you may not want to be consuming. If you take a look at the ingredient list, you will see preservatives, hazardous trans fats, tons of sodium and sugars. Bishop’s Orchards carries a minimal amount of these foods for this particular reason. You can find comfort in what you are taking home from our market with fresh, made from scratch, and whole foods that depict clean eating.

Comfort in Supporting Local Economy:

What makes you feel most comfortable when feeding your family; knowing your fruit came from 5 miles down the road, or buying vibrant, perfect looking fruit from some farm in California? The true meaning of eating local is having a smaller carbon footprint. When your food doesn’t travel as far to get to your plate, it translates to less carbon emissions, which negatively impact the environment. Conventionally sourced produce can travel up to 1500 miles to get to your kitchen! Eating local also means your money stays in your local economy. Create a feeling of contentment when you purchase from local farms and markets because with your patronage, you are providing them with more opportunity to thrive and offer even more services and products to fit to your community’s needs and wants.

Pick-Your-Own Apples Discount

Bishop’s Orchards is happy to report that the cooler temperatures we have been experiencing, have NOT effected our apple orchards in a large scale. Our fields are still very plentiful and picking could last through to November 1st. We want you to pick until we are picked out! With that being said, starting TODAY, we are offering an End of the Season Pick Your Own Apple Discount!!

PYO 20% Apples

ENJOY 20% OFF 

WHEN YOU PICK 40lbs OF APPLES OR MORE (approx. 2 half bushel bags)

Bring everyone; your friends, family, children, ANYONE, and head over to stock up on locally grown Apples. Hours will remain 10am-5pm at all locations, until the end of the season. We are currently picking our later varieties, which are more versatile for eating, cooking, baking, etc. Check out our Pinterest Page for amazing seasonal recipes for all produce, including Bishop’s Own Apples. Stayman Apples are great for apple pies, even when freezing pre-made pie filling. Mutsu apples make a fantastic apple sauce or apple butter. All varieties are delicious as is but some favorites for eating are Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Braeburn. Varieties vary at all Pick-Your-Own locations and are subject to availability, so please call 203-458-PICK before heading out. Orchard locations may be found here. Listed below are varieties available:

Main Orchard in Guilford (Weekends only): Stayman, Fuji, Ida Red, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, and Braeburn.

Small Orchard in Guilford (Weekdays only): Mutsu, Jonagold, Fuji, Braeburn, Empire, Golden Delicious, Ida Red, and Stayman.

Orchard in Northford (Weekends only):Stayman, Rome, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Mutsu, Empire, and Braeburn.

Thank you all for another amazing PYO Season! For more information, visit our Pick Your Own Page.