Vision for Generations

gratitudeMONTH_22I recently had my annual eye exam.  Yes, I’m getting older and my vision has continued to change since my first pair of glasses at age 20. Very gradual changes, yet my progressive lens prescription gets tweaked to compensate based upon my eye exam.  Surprise! this time my change was to decrease the strength by .25 Diopters. Despite that, I still need to lower or remove my glasses when I get really close when fixing something on the farm.

That got me pondering when glasses help and when they don’t.   When is it we see more clearly? With or without? Translate that to our family farm business… when is it we need new glasses aka vision?  We established our latest vision statement in 2010, and it has continued to guide our family and staff. Each year how we execute gets tweaked, just like my glasses, but the framework is solid.

Bishop’s Orchards Vision

Preserve and enhance the value of the land for current and future generations and provide exceptional products and services to our customers that emphasize “family, food, and recreation.”

Future generations.  In 2009, the first child of G7 (Generation7 since founding the farm in 1871) arrived, followed by the 2nd and 3rd in 2010 and 2013 respectively. Daughters Sarah and Carrie in G6 (mothers of the aforementioned children) are working full time in the family business. Ideas abound, changes are constantly underfoot and adaptation continues to occur, just as Bishop’s Orchards Vision directs us.

Family, Food and Recreation can be substituted with  Relationships, Nutrition and Fun.  Our goals are to intertwine these in every visit to Bishop’s Orchards. A glimpse thru your eyes and the postings on #pickbishops and our Facebook page reflect this happening.

I’m proud of our work, our staff’s responsiveness to our customers and community, and in turn, of their reciprocal support of our family farm. As G6 continues to be a more integral part of managing our family business, it is also important to thank the 248 individuals who worked on the Bishop’s Team for part or all of 2015 to get our jobs done. My vision upon starting full time work on the farm in 1977 after college was to continue the family farm, but not the scope of what it is today.

Our farm is continuing to deepen our roots, knowing that we must focus on our core, yet be nimble to grow and prune as the world around adapts and challenges each of us.   Helping our customers know more about our food, wellness and food safety is part of our vision. We’re also continuing to adapt and responsibly use our resources.  By mid February, we will invest $100K in energy efficient upgrades to help reduce our carbon footprint in cooperation with the Small Business Energy Advantage Program. New lighting, motors and display case doors will be installed. Stop by or check in on Facebook to see our changes.
I hope you’re thinking about your vision. Our eyes must be open to observe, sometimes needing a new prescription so our minds can focus on what we take for granted.  Let’s use that knowledge to enhance our lives together for our future generations.

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.

Healthy Food for Kids

 

12208606_10156241646340080_9164119039287463132_nBy now the holiday season is behind us and the new year has started.  The holidays were filled with many things; friends and family, giving thanks for all that we have, and FOOD.  About the food, while some side dishes during the holidays are healthy, most of the food that gets consumed is not.  Cookies, candies, appetizers while all delicious did not end the year well in the eating well category.

In the new year for my family we are focusing on trying to make healthy choices (a bit clichy for a new year’s resolution, I know). A big part of that focus is around my 2 year old daughter, Addie.  She is at that point where she is trying to push boundaries and that includes food.  If she could have her way all she eats would consist of cereal, grapes, goldfish, crackers, hot dogs, and chicken noodle soup.  And if it is a green vegetable, forget about it.  We are working hard to expand her horizons with food and try not to go the easy way out and provide her those few favorites.  

With that said there are a few things that we are trying to do to increase the variety of food that she eats this year.  One thing is meal planning at the beginning of the week and doing it so that there isn’t a second option for her for dinner.  On Sunday with that meal plan in mind we went to Bishop’s.  There are two things that get Addie excited about going to Bishop’s: getting an apple from the basket at the entrance and pushing her own cart.  Going around the store with a two year old pushing the kids cart definitely takes some time but the smile on her face makes it worth it.  This is part of the process where I hope it translates to her eating, helping get the food from the store.  I picked out the fruits and vegetables from the shelf, hand it to her and she would put it in the cart.  While doing that we say the name of the food as part of the learning process as well.  Keeping her involved and excited hopefully translates to the same feelings at home when the food is on her plate.  

An additional component of trying to eat better is having Addie be a part of the cooking process.  She does have a play kitchen that she loves to cook in and she also loves cooking with us.  Even at two there are simple tasks that she can do to “help”.  For example, if ingredients need to be mixed together in a bowl, we will measure items out and she will dump each one in the bowl and mix it together.  She also likes to be on a chair at the counter just watching us cook. She loves to be involved in the process.  It also makes us feel good because she is a bit of a cheerleader, she will say “Yay, Mommy did the cooking!” or “Yay, Daddy did the cooking” when we are done and ready to eat.  Who doesn’t like a little motivation?

It is just the beginning of 2016 but I hope to stay on track and get my daugher involved in learning to love various foods that are good for all of us.  

New Year, Farm Fresh Beginning

11114730_10153311998219962_3648035028372669811_nBeginning a new year is a good time to make resolutions and set goals.

In farming we begin each new year with the hope that mother nature will be kind to us in the coming year and resolve to make positive changes, always striving to learn from, grow and improve from our past successes and failures. So many of the factors necessary for a successful year are beyond our control so we set about taking care of what we can to make sure we are ready when the time comes. Most of our time the next few months on the farm will be spent pruning our 17,000 fruit trees, planning our vegetable plantings for the coming year and preparing equipment.

In farming, no matter how bad or good the past year was, the new year is a new beginning and filled with hope. Farmers are optimists. Why else would we will invest so much time and energy planting and caring for crops knowing we could lose them in an instant to a freeze or hail storm, etc… A hurricane or tropical storm can wipe out a whole season’s work. There aren’t many farmers who are recreational gamblers. We get all the excitement we can stand at the “office”.

I would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year and success with your New Year resolutions. We will endeavor to do our best to at least help with the healthy part by providing fresh, nutritious, locally-grown food for you and yours.

FROM THE TRACTOR SEAT… Grateful

By Farmer KeithBee

I love farming, and our family’s passion to growing healthy fruits and vegetables for your table, our neighbors and beyond. I’m grateful that our family continues to be stewards of over 300 acres, to use it for God’s purposes of sustaining health and life. As we plow forward, each day provides opportunities and hardships, rewards and lessons. These hopefully challenge us to grow and sustain us as individuals, families, friends and neighbors, all across our great nation and the world.

This week is one to truly reflect upon, as we all gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving, officially established by President Lincoln in 1863. In 1639, John Bishop, a signer of the Guilford Covenant and who the current Bishop’s Orchards family’s owe their lives to, celebrated the first Guilford Thanksgiving (we Keith-Abbeythank his wife and family too!), long after the Pilgrims did in 1621. My family is so thankful for your support of us and our fantastic team (over 180 staff at our peak week in October!) that allows us to grow and serve our community. Recently, we did our 3rd ‎Random Act of Apples, and paid tribute to our Veterans and the VA Hospital’s staff‬ on November 13th. We are grateful for those who are and have served our nation, and seeing the appreciation on the faces of those we touched that day with our gifts of apples, cider and donuts is a special gift to receive back.

So, as the end of the row approaches, and its decision time, I turn into the short rows, akin to not biting off more then I can chew, thankful for small bites of God’s great earth entrusted in our family’s hands, stretching our bounty to serve others.

Thank you again for your support of our family farm business. God bless.

FROM the TRACTOR SEAT… Loyalty

by Farmer KeithBee

Covenant and Stewardship… 2 key words that drive me each day. Stewardship: using the resources of our family land transferred from generation to generation to do good for others, then pass it on in the same if not better state then when received. Covenant: a deep commitment to do good. So it is with pride to note that in 1639 my many, many ‘greats’ greatgrandfather John Bishop signed the Guilford Covenant and with his family was an original settler of our town. And part of the Stewardship has been public service by every generation since.

Our family continues to add vitality, change and chapters to our 6 generations farming at our current location, growing since 1871 to serve our community. Our community has grown, our reach has stretched, and it is exciting to see just how universal the appeal of visiting our farm is to so many people from far and wide. Spending simple family time together transcends age, culture, ethnicity, religion, gender, and more. We appreciate every family who visits our farm, and delight in return visits season after season, seeing children grow to bring their children, then their children! The posts and pictures on social media are so heartwarming and real.

Our new format Loyalty email represents another growth and outreach to serve you better, and say THANK YOU for your loyalty and support. As a Preferred Customer, you now will enjoy Farm Market e-coupons, tied to your card. No need to print or pull up on your smartphones! Our technology upgrades allow you to redeem them at the registers during checkout by simply scanning your card or entering the phone number tied to your account on the pinpad.

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.

A Letter From The Co-CEO

Technology Upgrades Continue at Bishops Orchards!

We are excited to report that an upgrade in our Bishops Rewards Program has been implemented!

We have completed Phase I of installing new checkout registers, and the supporting infrastructure. As you have shopped, you will have experienced a new cash register that enhances our ability to serve you better by offering quicker lookups and scanning, maintenance of customer lookups to your reward card, plus inventory control, ordering and analysis for our staff. In addition, we can save paper and email your receipt directly to you without printing!

The online login for redeeming point in the Bishop’s Rewards Program was discontinued as of December 6, 2014 and your point balance transferred to our in-market system on that date.

We had to consolidate multiple Rewards Card numbers that were linked to one shared household account down to just one Rewards Card number. To do this, we determined the last Rewards Card used by a household group and assigned all the points to that last-used card. We can easily look up your card at the register by name, phone number or email address. If you wish to have separate points accumulated for different members of your household, please apply for an additional card. We have the ability to reprint your card so multiple family members can each have the same ID.

At the checkout, your Rewards Points will show on your receipt and we now have the ability to directly apply your Rewards points to a future purchase with no online action on your part or use of a Gift Card.

Our Gift Card Program was also upgraded. All previously issued gift cards remain valid for their full amount, and a new style gift card is issued for new purchases.

Our family and staff look forward to continuing to service your needs year round, and appreciates your patronage.

Sincerely,

Keith B. Bishop

Co-CEO