Category: Newsletter

Farm Feature: Anderson Farms

You know that delicious farm fresh spinach that comes to Bishop’s Orchards around the beginning of May? It’s a customer favorite, and for good reason. Not only does it come straight from Anderson Farms in Wethersfield, CT, but it is about as farm fresh as it gets. Andersoanderson farms vegetable standn Farms has been a family run business since 1856, and they’re still going strong. With over 156 acres of land, they grow around 30 different fruits and vegetables that they distribute all over the state and sell at the market stand right on the side of the road by their farm in Wethersfield.

From their most popular items like corn (90 acres), spinach, beets and squash. To beans, melons, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and more, neighbors and customers from all around sit on the edge of their seats for the release of their seasonal favorites. Especially when it comes to the spinach from Anderson Farms. Customers can’t wait to get their hands on it because yes, it’s that good.

They begin to plant in April and go through May and June. Once July and August hit, they stop due to the hot temperatures, but once it cools down, they start planting again through October. Anderson Farms grows two different types of spinach – winter over spinach and regular. Winter over spinach goes dormant in the winter while regular spinach can keep in the cooler spring and fall temperatures.fresh spinach from anderson farms

For those of you wondering whether the spinach is organic or not, the good news is they keep the spraying to a minimum, if any at all. “For the most part, the spinach isn’t sprayed at all. If a disease appears then we may spray, but the spinach is pretty much organic,” said family member Craig Anderson. They even pick it by hand and wash it by hand – leaving it clean of dirt and sand.

We are proud to feature Anderson Farms and their produce in our market. It may be a customer favorite, but it’s also one of ours. If you’re interested in purchasing any of these farm fresh items, take a drive up to Wethersfield and stop by their farm stand, open daily with different seasonal items. Or, come in to Bishop’s Orchards and see what’s in season. You can expect beets, radishes, and beet greens, with corn coming late in the Fall!

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!

 

Living a Green Lifestyle

Even though Earth Day has come and gone, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to make a positive impact on the environment. We here at Bishop’s Orchards do our best to live a green lifestyle (all year long no matter what’s in season). From recycling, to clean eating, solar, eating locally grown, and selling chemical free cleaning products, we want to make the world and our community a safer and cleaner place – And you can do the same! From recycling, reducing food waste, saving water, and more, now is a better time than any to switch to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.  If you’re looking for help on how to make your lifestyle a little more green this coming spring and summer, keep on reading because we not only have the tips to help you out, but the products to help you make the transition.

Green Cleaningenvironmentally friendly cleaning

Falling into the trap of the common everyday cleaning brands is easy when you’re busy and stressed. What you may not realize is how harmful not only the chemicals inside the bottle are to the environment, but how the plastic bottle itself is as well. By purchasing brands like Better Life, Ecover, or 7th Generation (all available at Bishop’s Orchards) or even making your own, you won’t think twice about home cleaning. These cleaning products are plant-derived, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly. They’re even derived from solar energy processes and recyclable materials with formulas that are biodegradable and work just as well, if not better than the conventional cleaning products. Plant based cleaning products do an amazing job at keeping your home clean and smelling fresh!

Solarsolar power solar panels

Powering your home or business with clean energy has many environmental benefits. That’s why, if possible and within your budget, switching to solar can have a huge impact. This is a project that Bishop’s Orchards has taken on in the past year, and we’re already starting to see cost savings and environmental gains. From 2009 to 2016 our Energy Efficiency Program helped us to decrease our electrical usage. We were having an impact but needed to do more! Now, we are “growing” kilowatt hours that will displace fossil fuels to power about 80% of our farm’s annual electric usage. This will also help power our Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers that are free for public use! The installation of our solar panels was done on the Farm Market’s roof (381 panels) and across Route 1 on the ground (1108 panels). Based on projections, in 8 years the solar investment will be paid for.

Clean/Green Eatinggreen eating

Environmentally responsible eating is a great way to not only benefit the environment but also you and whomever you’re cooking for! Eating green can be done by using all of your leftover food scraps to create a soup stock, or saving energy doing one weeks worth of meal prep in a day. One trick that helps me to “eat green” is doing exactly that… eating greens. Starting your own outdoor (or indoor) green garden box is fantastic way to reduce carbon footprint from other vegetables brought in via freight. AND growing your greens helps to balance out greenhouse gases, which makes the environment better for everyone. Cultivating your own compost in tandem with a green garden box will help boost soil nutrient content to yield more bountiful growth, while reducing landfill trash. Chances are if you’re eating food that benefits the environment, it will bring the same benefits to you! Check out our abundant display of Hart seeds to start your own green box so you can eat “green” all year long!

Living an eco-friendly life doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as easy as changing your light bulbs to fluorescent ones, or purchasing a reusable water bottle. It’s never too late to make your life a little greener and make a positive impact on the world, environment, and your community. So, get started today and go green – The Earth will thank you!

Featured Personality: Michaele Williams

Coming to us 10 years ago from a local CT Vineyard and Winery, Michaele Williams has become an essential part of the farm staff at Bishop’s Orchards. Currently the Manager of the greenhouses, small fruits and vegetables, and the seasonal and full time farm staff, Michaele has a lot on her plate not just in the spring and summer months, but throughout the entire year – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.michaele williams farm staff

A typical day for Michaele involves organizing and prioritizing tasks that need to be done and timing them with unpredictable factors like weather, ground workability and timing based on stage of growth (tree, bush, flower/vegetable transplant). Once the staff are given their assignments, she scouts and manages the care given to the vegetable, flower, small fruit and greenhouse crops.

What some people may not realize is that even though spring has officially begun, field work is an ongoing process. “Work on the farm has been ongoing to get ahead of the spring start,” Michaele explains. From rototilling, plastic laying, blueberry pruning, preparing irrigation lines for warmer days and fertilizing long term crops, these are only a few things Michaele has to do to prepare for the spring start. “Winter time definitely gives you time to breath. However, there’s still a lot to do.” For example, updating and repairing equipment, meetings and seminars to learn and prepare for next year’s crops, pruning (apple, peach and pear trees, blueberries, raspberries), seed ordering and planting calendars. All of these necessary tasks this has to be done before spring arrives.

As for what’s happening on the farm now, we just finished transplanting 329 10-year old blueberry bushes that came from a farm in Kensington, CT. “On Sunday, we just put the last one in the ground. Now we have to backfill with topsoil, add irrigation lines and mulch them.” The addition of these blueberry bushes will not only increase blueberry production and the supply in the store and our CSA program, but also provide more for customers to come out and pick themselves during our Pick-Your-Own season! Currently we are also taking the hay off the tops of strawberries that protected them from the winter cold, grafting apple trees, and getting ready to bring the herbs and Mother’s Day baskets into the store on May 1.

Not only does the local, fresh produce give Michaele something to look forward to each year, but working at Bishop’s Orchards has given her other reasons to love her job as well. “My favorite part about working at Bishop’s is the diversity in my job and the people I get to do it with. Producing quality fruit and vegetables that people are taking home and feeding to their families means a great deal to me. It really impacted me the first time I was thanked for doing what I do. It is hard work but worth it.”

Going Green in the Greenhouse

Farming at Bishop’s Orchards has truly expanded over the years.  Part of that expansion has been the greenhouses located across the street from the store, behind the barn. In 2006 the first greenhouse was built with the second one following two years later. Originally built to grow the vegetable transplants to be put in our fields, but now they’re being used for several reasons. From April through September, they are used daily to grow not only vegetable transplants, but flower transplants for the fields, and potted herbs for the store.

Now I know what you’re thinking….what is a vegetable transplant? I was wondering the same thing. But thanks to Michaele Williams, the Assistant Farm Manager, she explained the process to me. “A transplant is seeded in our greenhouse 4-6 weeks before the last chance of frost to get a head start. It is then transplanted to our field after the chance of any frost has passed,” Michaele explains. “We have a total of about 90,000 transplants. We germinate approximately 38,000 flower transplants, with the majority being Zinnias (16,000). We also do about 4,000 Sunflowers and a mix of Lisianthus, Delphiniums, Bachelors Buttons, Statice, Snapdragons, Cockcomvs, Queen Anne’slace, and an assortment of others which are for sale in the store and through a CSA share. Every seed is started in the greenhouse and are then brought outside and planted in the fields.”

Michaele added that this year we are also doing more vegetable transplants than we’ve ever done before. And you know what that means? More farm fresh produce to purchase in the store! We will have, Brussel Sprouts, Cucumbers, Cantaloupes, Fennel, Kale, Peas, Peppers, Radicchio, Summer Squash, Winter Squash, and a large quantity of Tomatoes (about 10,000 transplants). New to the crop this year are the Swiss Chard, Pedrone Peppers, and Broccolini transplants.

In addition to vegetables, every year one of our most popular greenhouse items hits the shelf – our Mother’s Day baskets! 75 baskets are made and within two weeks we’re completely sold out. The reason for such high demand is not only because they make the perfect gift, but because of what’s in them and how easy we make it to plant and grow them right at home. The main herbs you could find in them are Basil, Dill, Oregano, Thyme, Chive, Cilantro or Tarragon. They are put into a biodegradable bowl that can either then be put right into a planter, or if you want them to grow larger, you can separate them and plant them individually. We are also adding two new bowls to the shelf – a Lettuce bowl which will contain a combination of both red and green lettuce, and a mixed Kale bowl that can be eaten raw or used for sauteing.

Not only do we sell our herbs and vegetables in the store, but they are also used in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  Local restaurants like to get in on the farm fresh goodness too!  South Lane Bistro in Guilford is one of our largest supporters and uses many of our herbs and vegetables to cook with, as well as garnish dishes, in their restaurant. While there are other restaurants that use our fresh, seasonal produce, we are hoping to partner with more restaurants in the community.  Many chefs want that local farm fresh flavor, and knowing exactly where the food they are cooking with is coming from.

If you’re interested in learning more about our herbs and vegetables or starting a partnership with us, give us a call at 203-453-2338 or visit our website at www.bishopsorchards.com. AND be sure to check back soon for our Mother’s Day baskets (available two weeks before Mother’s Day)!

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.

Integrated Pest Management Process (IPM)

Every year we get asked about how we manage our pest problems, and honestly it’s a difficult question to answer. Not that we have reservations about telling anyone – in fact, we are quite proud of our pest management program.

There are two types of pest (and disease) control programs: Organic, and what people call “conventional”. Organic is fairly simple in that only organic based (derived from natural sources) products are used for disease, insect, and plant nutrition. For some reason many people feel Organic means unsprayed. But, in fact Organic crops frequently are sprayed more than Farms using non organic products.

pest management at bishop's orchardsI put parentheses around “conventional” because that is what not being Organic is referred to in the media. Conventional is a term that goes back to the 60’s and 70’s, when synthetic pesticides were new and used to describe a program of Orchard sanitation (kill everything). Basically, the conventional program evolved around the calendar, “It’s the first week of June so we spray.”

That type of program lost its steam when Orchard sanitation failed and people started to realize you need to work within the ecosystem of the farm to manage pest and disease issues. This was the beginning of a program called Integrated Pest Management or IPM – the type of program we follow today.

An IPM program follows a series of guidelines to help a farmer make sound, science based decisions on the actions taken to control pest or diseases. Any given decision is based on multiple factors, creating a complicated process. Factors include weather/environmental conditions, presence or lack of predator insects, establishment of a threat, and meeting threshold numbers for target insects. If a determination is made, a control is needed. Then we evaluate our control options to target whether or not the pest (or disease) is safe, minimally invasive, but can control the target to maintain numbers below an economic threshold. However, sometimes scouting and analysis might show no need to treat. The threshold numbers for control may not have been met, and the weather may not be advantageous for disease to take hold.

For our IPM program we utilize the University extension service to “scout” the Orchard weekly, helping with on site advice and informative research Emails. In addition, we do our own scouting to stay on top of what is going on in the Orchard. We also tract “degree hours”, insect stages, and tree stages which all give us information we use to make decisions.

For every crop we grow there are different Insects and diseases, and evaluations are different for each. It’s very complicated sometimes, but we have a very experienced staff that wants to preserve the longevity and legacy of Bishops Orchards. We do our best to assure the best and safest fruit we can provide our customers.