Category: Featured Personality

Featured Personality – Russ Geary

Who isn’t a sucker for love stories?!! At Bishop’s we don’t prohibit dating amongst co-workers because we are a family run business. You never know when cupid might strike you! Yes, it maybe just be a bee sting in the orchard, but sometimes employees find love in the simplest of environments! Let us tell you about a love story from back in the day at Bishop’s Orchards. It all started in 1984…

As a young college student, he was doing what most kids his age were doing that summer, looking for a summer job! Between his kind heart and charm, he managed to land a position as a stock clerk for that summer. At first, Russ didn’t think he would be here long, but low and behold a beautiful young lady came walking in! Lisa was her name and boy was Russ smitten! Employee relationships have never been prohibited at Bishop’s, being a family owned business and all. So after 4 years of being at Bishop’s Orchards, Russ began dating Lisa! Hands down this has been his proudest moment at Bishop’s, now having been married to Lisa for ## years!! It all started with two employees in love and now many many years later, they are both STILL valued employees. They have two beautiful children, Rusty a certified accountant and Linnea a college student studying Pathology at UCONN.

Falling for Lisa wasn’t the only love Russ found. He fell in love with our family company, and seeing its growth throughout the years. Since then, Russ has been the Produce Team Manager here at Bishop’s, now going on 30 years! Russ enjoys engaging with the customers when he is on the floor. “One of the best parts of my job is interacting with the customers on the floor,” says Russ. “I sometimes see familiar faces that have been shopping at Bishop’s since I first started in 1984! Engaging with them makes me feel like our department is holding up to our company’s mission statement and making the customer’s happiness our number one priority.”

Russ’ day to day responsibilities are divided up into two sections; purchased produce and Bishop’s own produce. January through May is mainly focused on outsourced purchased produce. Then, once June hits, Bishop’s own produce, as well as other local farms’ produce, starts coming in. “This starts to be a very exciting time on the farm,” says Russ. “Some things you will see are berries and squash from our own farm field, as well as tomatoes, lettuce, corn and more from local farms like Anderson Farm, March Farms, and Cecarelli Farms.”

Multiple times a week, Russ is responsible for researching prices, placing all orders and checking inventory upon arrival in the Produce Department (bulk items included). “To help ensure our customers are getting the best and most fresh produce, we do an extensive quality control check. We have exceptional staff who goes through every pea pod, green bean, brussels sprouts… you name it! There is no “bad egg” to be found when you have this hands-on technique.” Russ expresses the importance of this process so the customers are getting the most for their money, with the quality they deserve.

As the business continues to grow, Russ hopes to see the Produce Department expand in many different ways. He sees the potential for our farm to increase available land made for produce that we currently grow. “At times some of our produce, such as our strawberries and blueberries, is limited during the early parts of their season. We then have to resort to purchasing from other farms to keep up with demand. It would be great to find more space for growing more, therefore increasing our on-hand supply for customers.”

FEATURED PERSONALITY: ERICA DENUZZO

Erica DeNuzzo has been a fundamental addition to the team and marketing department here at Bishop’s Orchards. Coming from a Graphic Design company 5 years ago, Erica has taken on a role as the Marketing Coordinator. She assists in handling aspects of marketing and public relations including the development and implementation of  marketing campaigns, tracking analytics, planning meetings and media purchases, budgeting, preparing reports, knowledge of social media platforms, creating visual & verbal content, and organizing the company’s promotional outreach efforts. Her creative background has also made her the in-house graphic designer and event coordinator.

“I know my strong suites are my organization, communication and ability to multitask. Being a Type A personality has definitely been helpful in my professional life with pushing deadlines and strategically planning,” says Erica. “There is however a huge creative side to me. I try to create a healthy balance of building structure while also being able to step outside the lines and push the boundaries. The best part of my job is visualizing an idea and seeing it run through to execution.

Since joining the business, Erica has become more aware of the constant changes within the food industry. Bishop’s Orchards and the food industry is constantly keeping the marketing team on their toes. “Demands, trends and demographics are constantly changing, keeping the marketing team on our toes. It is up to us to determine how to approach each segment effectively,” explains Erica. On top of market segmentation changes, the marketing department is also tasked with staying up-to-date with media outlets and new resources for advertising. In the past year, Erica has been a part of the incorporation of Digital Advertising. Digital is only one aspect of Bishop’s advertising, but handled so differently than other mediums. “It was an expensive addition, but one needed to keep our brand visible, in the eyes of those searching for us.”

This time of year for the Marketing Department is filled with preparation for the Pick-Your-Own season, booking small scale events, staying on top of changing content for advertisers, and planning for the 2018 Shoreline Wine Festival on August 11th & 12th. “The Shoreline Wine Festival is a great event! Attendees can enjoy CT Wines from all over the state as well as live music, wide stream food trucks, local artisans and so much more! A lot of time, planning and organization goes into this event and it shows in how well it runs and both customers and vendors enjoyment.”  

As for future growth for Bishop’s Orchards, Erica hopes to see the addition of more events, specifically becoming a venue in the wedding industry. “Bishop’s would be a beautiful and unique location to add to wedding venues on the shoreline. People are always getting married so jumping into this industry would definitely be a smart investment on our part, as well as an enjoyable avenue to explore.”

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.”

 

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.”

Featured Personality: Carrie Bishop Healy

Carrie Healy, part of the Bishop family’s sixth generation, always knew she wanted to come back into the family business, it was just a matter of time. Carrie started working at Bishop’s Orchards in high school doing various jobs – from cashier to managing the concessions trailer, she got an overall understanding of the family business at a young age. However, it is a family rule that in order for a family member to come back into the business, they have to do at least two years of business somewhere else, in a related field, to gain “real world” experience.

So, off Carrie went. First stop was college in the Boston area where she studied Accounting. She then worked for seven years in corporate Accounting and Auditing for two different companies. “I always wanted to come back into the business. Even in high school I knew someday I wanted to come back. After being in Boston and working those jobs, my husband and I wanted to start our family. Once we had our first daughter we decided it was a good time to move back to Guilford and join the family business.”

All her hard work in, and outside of the company paid off. Carrie was recently promoted from Accounting Manager to Chief Financial Officer. “With this new promotion I now deal with the administrative side of the business. Everything from financial information, books, HR, IT and the other administrative work we have – I oversee the strategic growth in all these areas.”

Working at Bishop’s is definitely more unique than being anywhere else, Carrie explains. “Going from Corporate America to this is definitely different, but it’s a nice family knit organization where you know everybody. You don’t have to have Bishop in your name to be treated like family and I think that’s a very important aspect of our business. We strive to treat everyone like our own and take care of each other – it’s a big piece of that for me, and that’s why I love it.”

As for the future of the company, Carrie says the biggest thing they strive for is that the business continues in the ever changing economy and food trend industry and they meet the wants and needs of the customers. “We always have to be on top of our game when it comes to what we offer to customers. We need to make sure we’re offering what our customers and community want in addition to figuring out what the niche markets enjoy so we can add experiences that aren’t already in the area. Our biggest thing is talking to our customers and seeing what they want and providing that to them through our business. We employ a lot of people in town which is important to us, and we want to make our employees and customers happy.”

Featured Personality: Brad Isnard

Brad Isnard expected to spend his life out in California. But, when he moved to Connecticut in 1990, he took a job as an Orchard Foreman at Bishop’s Orchards, and over 20 years later he has a lot to show for his time here. He’s learned the ins and outs of the business and has become an expert on the production and caretaking of the land and crops grown on the farm. His time, experience, and expertise of the farm is what led to his recent promotion as the new Orchard Manager.

His role at the company allows him to oversee cider production and all packing and sales of Bishop’s items, in addition to activity and labor on the farm. When you think about winter on the farm, it’s easy to assume there’s nothing to do because it’s cold and there’s snow. But in actuality, winter is when all the pruning happens. “It’s the single biggest job we have on the farm,” says Brad. “But, in addition to pruning, we’re also buying seeds and are in the process of figuring out exactly what we’re going to grow for the coming year. From the squash you see growing out on the side of Long Hill Road, to tomatoes, asparagus and more. It takes a lot of time to get the seeds and plan for the season ahead, so the earlier we start the better.”

Brad also started the CSA Program (Community Shared Agriculture) here at Bishop’s Orchards. “I wanted to start the CSA Program because frequently the farm gets overshadowed by the store since it’s become such a substantial farm market. I thought the farm didn’t get the credit that it’s due. So, I wanted to create a program that showcased the farm and the products we grow while also allowing people to learn more about the farm since not many people know about agriculture. We also had a lot more land to utilize to grow more crops, so I wanted to find a way to bring people back to the farm so they could have a unique and exclusive experience.”

Working at Bishop’s has not only given Brad the flexibility he likes, but the atmosphere and the people give him a reason to appreciate coming to work every day. “The seasonal aspect of the job makes it all the more enjoyable. If there’s a job you don’t like, you don’t do it for long because there’s so many to do. And what makes working here unique is the fact that the owner’s are just as willing to “get in the ditch” as you are – I like the shared labor from top to bottom.”

Winter On The Farm

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 11.08.38 AM“So, what do you do in the winter?” is a question I often get asked. Quite a lot, actually. Winter is the time when we prep and repair equipment for the coming spring. We still have apples and pears in the cold storage to pack and sell.  We also try to save a few “inside” jobs for when it is actually raining or snowing, but mostly we are pruning our apple, pear and peach trees. As I mentioned in my last posting, we have 17,000 trees that must be pruned before April, so anytime it isn’t snowing or raining, we are outside pruning.

I have also had folks ask me why we prune if the trees aren’t very big yet. We actually start pruning or training the tree as soon as we plant it. It is important to get the tree started off right and the first several years in the life of a fruit tree is the time we build the framework or structure of the tree. Once the structure of the tree is established, the pruning process is mostly thinning, renewing and cutting back branches to maintain the tree. Over the years I have had friends, customers and neighbors with fruit trees who call several years after they have planted the tree in their yard and they figure it is time to think about pruning it. Usually in these cases the trees are too far gone to ever have a chance of establishing a proper structure.

There are lots of resources on the internet. Here is an example of one that covers the basics.

http://content.ces.ncsu.edu/training-and-pruning-fruit-trees-in-north-carolina

There are articles and even YouTube videos on the subject.

Pruning and training fruit trees are equal parts science and art (Some aspects of farming require equal parts science, art and luck.) Every tree is a little different, but once you understand enough about what the goals are, you can “see” the cuts you need to make. You will be pruning for the current crop, as well as leaving some branches that will be the renewal wood to take the place of the current framework and fruiting wood in the tree.

One of the things I love about farming is that you have a very tangible measure of what you have accomplished. At the end of a day, you can look back down a row or across a field and see what you have accomplished. There is beauty in a well-pruned tree and you can see you made a difference and imagine how that tree will look in the spring with blossoms or in fall, full of fruit.