Category: Featured Story

Product Care

Product care is very important to retain our valued customers and deliver the high quality products they expect. We do not participate in many of the commonly practiced methods of most conventional grocery stores. We do not have any products on an automatic delivery and we hand check each item that comes in the store before it hits the shelf. Doing this allows us to keep a watchful eye on proper packaging and ensures food safety! Every item is ordered by hand on a daily basis which allows us to manage inventory and always have fresh products available.

One fun fact that you may not know is that we have a very extensive Olive Oil selection. We currently have over 25 different types of Extra Virgin Olive Oil from regions all over the world. We have an extensive variety of Greek, Italian, Spanish, American and Turkish olive oils ranging in flavor from light and fruity to robust and peppery! When choosing your olive oil it’s helpful to know about the different grades so you choose the best product for your meal preparation. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is cold pressed mechanically versus chemically and is also less than 0.08% acidity for maximum flavor and aroma. U.S Virgin Olive Oil has a pretty good flavor and odor with a low level of defects. Rated below U.S Virgin Olive Oil is what’s called: “U.S Lampante Virgin Olive Oil” is virgin olive oil which is lacking in flavor and odor and is usually not fit for human consumption and is usually used for refining and non food uses only.

Product Care is not limited to shelf stable products within our store, in fact the most attention to detail is allocated to our produce items. Starting in May with every spear of asparagus through the Fall with our apples, every item is inspected one by one before it goes to our shelves to ensure maximum color and overall quality. Brad Isnard is our CSA Director and has over 40 years experience with growing and handling all kinds of produce. In the most recent CSA newsletter Brad writes in detail how peaches should be handled and how we structure the timing into picking our peaches to ensure they get to your kitchen when they taste best.

“We pick peaches every two days (the same tree will be picked up to five time), so we try to pick them at the cusp of ripeness when you’ll still be able to handle (not squeeze) them. Peaches go from darker green to lighter green to yellow on the tops. We try for that just-yellowing spot for the proper timing of picking,” says Brad. Even if the picking season is only a couple weeks, growing our produce is a 365 day/year engagement that requires diligence and patience with product care in order to bring you the best quality you will find. Beyond our local Guilford Farm, our careful inspection process doesn’t stop with our own. All produce items here at Bishop’s Orchards are also inspected carefully when they are delivered before they get to your basket. We keep a close and consistent eye on what we receive which helps us to notice any changes that may have occurred in the picking and handling process.

Schools out and summer is here! The Pick-Your-Own season is finally open at Bishop’s Orchards. In the middle of this month we opened our strawberry fields up for Pick-Your-Own. They are delicious and juicy, easily one of our most popular crops. There is nothing more fresh than taking your family and friends out for a day filled with freshly-grown, flavorful fruits! Our strawberries are expected to last approximately through early July, with varieties that we grow carefully selected due to their sustainability. Strawberries are very soft and delicate so Bishop’s Orchards has a few tips for storing. For storing fresh, and lasting up to 1 week, keep your strawberries unwashed with stems still on until ready to eat. You should only wash with cold water when you are ready to consume. If you are looking to freeze your strawberries, place rinsed, dried and stemmed whole berries on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Freeze uncovered for six hours, then transfer berries into freezer bags. Frozen strawberries can store well up to three months.

Usually at the end of strawberry season, there is a brief break before starting Pick-Your-Own blueberries. Just like strawberries, our own blueberries grow in several varieties that continuously ripen throughout the season. Starting around mid-July and continuing through late August, Pick-Your-Own blueberries have a longer availability for picking as we rotate picking areas from start to finish. Blueberries are very versatile and GREAT for eating, cooking and freezing! When you are enjoying fresh, make sure to keep refrigerated until ready to use. You should plan to use them within a few days, washing the berries under cool water beforehand. If you are looking to freeze them, wash them gently and drain on a paper towel. Once dried completely, place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and set in the freezer for a quick freeze. After they are frozen, place them into plastic freezer bags, leaving ½” to ¾” head room in the bags. When you are ready to use, defrost the bags only long enough to thaw. Frozen blueberries can store well up to three months.

Our fresh fruits are always best when enjoyed in our family recipes, available on our website. If you come out for any of our Pick Your Own seasons, make sure to check out our Bishop’s Cookbook online for recipes using our farm fresh produce. In the meantime, here are a few family favorites that can highlight our delicious strawberries and blueberries:

Strawberry Tea Bread/Muffins

Makes 1 Dozen

  • 3 Egg
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Salad Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Oats
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½  teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs and sugar. Add oil and vanilla. Mix in flour, oats, cinnamon, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add strawberries and mix well. Bake for bread and muffins 20-25 minutes. Also freezes well.

Strawberry Cream Spread

Makes 1 Batch

  • 12 ounces Cream Cheese
  • 3 Strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar

Mix 3-4 ounces cream cheese, 3 small strawberries and 1 tsp. lemon juice in blender. Add 1 tsp sugar if desired. Serve with toast or strawberry bread.

Blueberry Picnic Bars

  • ½  cup All Purpose Flour
  • ½  cup Brown Sugar
  • ½  teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon Salt
  • 6 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 ½ cups Blueberries
  • 1 ½ cups Oats
  • 3 tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8”” square baking pan with foil, letting ends extend above pan on two sides. In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Add melted butter and stir with fork until evenly moistened (mixture will be crumbly). Reserve ½ cup crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture evenly and firmly over bottom of ungreased, foil-lined pan. Bake 12 minutes to set crust. Meanwhile, prepare filling. In a small saucepan stir berries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice over medium heat until simmering. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until juices are no longer cloudy, about 2 minutes. Spoon over crust.

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!

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.

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.