Author: Erica Scranton

All Your Questions Answered!

It’s always interesting when we make a change to the orchard by removing some of the trees. We get questions like why, what are you building, or to the extreme… are you going out of business? But the answer is very basic. All moves are part of a long term plan!

Many have noticed the trees we have taken out along Long Hill Road in a block visible from the store parking lot. We took out Jona Mac, Ida Reds, Braeburns and Macouns. The Macouns like to grow more wood than apples so they needed to eventually come out. The Ida Reds and Jona Macs were older strains of apples that have limited market desirability, so it was time for them as well. The Braeburns, although a crowd pleaser, were very weak due to the trees getting old. Think of it like spring cleaning where to make room for new and better “items,” you must weed out the old.

We are always assessing how the orchard is performing and what changes need to be made to keep the farm viable for decades to come. In that block we will be replanting Stayman, Fuji, Braeburn and perhaps some Granny Smith, an apple that will be new for us. We also took about an even bigger block up at our main orchards. This block will be replaced with a new planting of peaches and an early producing block of apples. Apples and peaches take three to four years to produce, so we always have to look ahead and plant varieties our customers want.

 

Pot Pies Galore!

Do those long, cold winter nights leave you craving a hearty, delicious meal? No longer feel like spending lots of time preparing dinner? Have you had enough take out? Are you looking for something new and fresh? Then look no further. Come check out our brand new chicken pot pies!

Sadly, our beloved Aristocrat pot pies were discontinued in 2018. The owner retired and closed down his business. We are sad to see him go, but we wish him well with his future endeavors. Aristocrat pot pies were a household name for many, and sold at multiple locations. They will be missed throughout the community. They were a wonderful company and made a truly amazing product. We know that it will be tough not having them in our market.

Although we won’t be selling Aristocrat pies anymore, we have decided to take on the challenge of making a Bishop’s own version. Our very talented Chef Michael has been working hard on his own recipe, and plans to create a new favorite. He has made revisions along the way, accepting feedback from customers and staff. He continues to work very hard to make sure each pot pie is delicious, full of flavor and made with top quality ingredients.

Each pot pie features a flaky, buttery, irresistible crust, with pieces of chicken and thick, mouthwatering gravy inside. Looking for something other than just chicken? We also offer a pie that includes carrots, peas, onions, and celery in addition to chicken and gravy. We carry three sizes, 4, 6 and 9 inch pies. Pies are handmade fresh, put in our freezer section and wait for you to take them home. All they require is to be cooked in an oven. Cooking instructions are located on the label, making cooking them as easy as pie! We will be adding more varieties to our line, so make sure to check back soon!

 

Featured Personality – Ryan Sylvia

More often than not, our outside employees tend to be behind the scenes, only making appearances when you drive along Long Hill Road and see them pruning. These staff members are the bread and butter to keep this business afloat! Longevity with these positions is a huge bonus, which brings us to a more recent young hire, 32 year old Ryan Sylvia!

Ryan came to Bishop’s in June of 2017, where he started, and continues to be, our Orchard Foreman. He grew up in Uncasville, CT and went to North Western Connecticut Community College. His story is quite unique in that he didn’t always work in the field he now does. Everything changed for him after he met his wife Blair in 2007. After dating and becoming engaged, his wife accepted a position in 2013 at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. The two of them picked up and moved, with Ryan starting a job at New England Village, a day program for adults with intellectual disabilities. You might ask where this story is going, but we promise… it will all tie together!

New England Village leases an 8 acre organic vegetable farm where its residents can work and enjoy aspects of a farm life. Ryan had started working on the farm with his crew, when he met what he calls his two mentors whom took him under their wing. “Beth and Janina showed me the basics of farming and more importantly, why we do things,” says Ryan. “There is a lot more to farming than just putting seeds into the ground, and watching them grow.” He had never thought that it would take him entering his late twenties, for him to realize his desire to be a farmer. “When you see someone take a bit of something you worked hard on, there is no greater love and satisfaction!”

Ryan and Blair got married and a few years later realized they wanted to move back to CT to be close to family. Bishop’s Orchards was his first job back in CT… and he hopes for it to be his last! “I feel like I fit in well at Bishop’s because family is such an important focus here.” Ryan’s responsibilities here change with the season. Winter through the end of March is our off season and when we are able to catch up and calm down a bit before peak season. “During this time we are pruning small fruits and apples. This involves trimming down trees so they do not overproduce,” says Ryan. “By creating space you are allowing more light to come in and hit the fruit in its best way.” Also during winter Ryan and other outside staff will attend conferences on beneficial topics for the upcoming season.

April will begin peak season here for our farmers, lasting through the end of October with them working six days a week, Monday through Saturday.  During this time Ryan assists in getting crews out to their locations and integrating an infrastructure for farm irrigation and Integrated Pest Management. “We will go out and scout crops to see what pests are affecting or could affect crops. After this we determine a course of action. These days are long and hard but I love farming and when you love your job, it doesn’t feel like a job anymore!”  

A typical New Englander, Ryan loves all sports especially his New England Patriots! His simple pleasures in life are really all he needs. Time spent with his nieces and soon to be nephew, craft beer and Boston sports… there isn’t much more than he could ever need!

Winter on the Farm

We get asked all the time, “what do you do on the farm this time of year” , and the answer to that is a lot. The physical work on the farm is pruning the fruit trees. That is the single largest job we do all year, and takes about five months to complete. We use a combination of chainsaws, and battery powered pruners to get this done.

Inside we are planning for the year ahead, making decisions on crops to raise, ordering the seed and greenhouse supplies to get them all started when we open the greenhouse in March. The bulk of the vegetables we raise are for our CSA program, and we always try for some new crops, and add to the diversity of the program. To see more about the program check out the link here.

The Farm managers go through the soil and leaf samples to put together a soil amendment and fertile program for the year. We will discuss the results with specialist to determine the right course as part of the process. We do a lot of equipment work too, repairing, overhauling, and prepping for the coming season. We have two full time mechanics that are kept very busy.

One Stop. Fresh & Festive! – Luck of the Irish

It is that time of the year again, when leprechauns come out to play, and all things St. Patrick’s Day make an appearance in the store! We have something for everyone, and something for every meal of the day. You just may want to try it all!

First, start your breakfast off right with one of our delicious Irish soda breads, and our new pistachio nut tea bread.  Irish soda breads are traditionally known for their use of baking soda (instead of yeast as a leavening agent), simple ingredients, and buttery crust. We offer these breads with or  without caraway seeds. Eat them as is, heat them up and add butter, or dunk them in your favorite coffee! The pistachio nut bread is made in house, boasts delicious pistachio flavor and is topped with walnuts. This bread pairs nicely with tea , coffee or milk.

For lunch, give our new Rueben a try. This sandwich, made on rye bread is comprised of mouth watering slices of top quality pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and chipotle aioli. Then, check out its counterpart, our corned beef sandwich, made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, mustard, and also served on rye bread.

Next, grab one of our holiday themed entrees, or crock pot meal. Our corned beef and cabbage and Irish bangers and mash dinners are great favorites made fresh for you to enjoy. These are created and made by Chef Michael and Chef Karen! Indulge in freshly cooked pieces of corned beef brisket, cooked cabbage, carrots, and potatoes! Or, if you are looking for something a little different, check out our Irish bangers and mash. This dish is composed of delicious sausage, mashed potatoes and peas.  Want to cook, but don’t want to go through the hassle of preparing every ingredient? Our slow cooker corn beef and cabbage recipe contains everything you need to create this popular dish. Just add to your crock pot, cook and enjoy!

Don’t forget to treat yourself to dessert! We have added a new whoopie pie to the family, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. We are now introducing mint chocolate chip whoopie pies! These pies are made from our chocolate batter, filled with a green mint flavored buttercream, and topped with mini chocolate chips. They are available as a single pie, or in a 5 pack.

We definitely have something to please everyone! So dust off your green, bring your luck and come on down to the market and check it out!

FEATURED PERSONALITY – Alicia Metzler

Bishop’s history is who we are and why we are the way we are. We are a family business… strong emphasis on family. We depend strongly on the support of our staff, creating our work family. There is no one else who exemplifies this behavior more than our Front End Team Supervisor. To many of our customers she is known as “the lovely, helpful lady who is behind the customer service desk,” but to us, she is Alicia.

From Killingworth, CT, Alicia left high school and started to work at Cheeseboro Ponds in 1975, the same year she met her husband Al. Al was a Guilford native who fell hard and fell fast! Two years later in 1977 the two married and continued working for Pond’s, transferring to the research and development part of Ponds in Trumbull. Alicia stayed at Pond’s through her first pregnancy with eldest son Jamie in 1981. It wasn’t until after her she had her second son, Kyle, in 1983 when she decided to be a stay at home mom. During this time she had her daughter Kellyn in 1986 and in 1994 when she entered first grade, Alicia came to work for Bishop’s as a part time cashier.

Now going into her 25th anniversary working at Bishop’s, Alicia Metzler is a jack of all trades. Over the years she has moved up in positions from Head Cashier to Assistant Store Manager. She is the go-to employee for all things customer service! From taking care of opening and closing the store, to special orders and fruit baskets, to registering members for our Rewards Program… she does it all! Labeled the “Fruit Basket Lady,” her arrangements for corporate and holiday gift giving are some of the best on the shoreline. Her presence at the Farm Market is widely known due to her dedication over the years. “As someone who is not typically outgoing, I have formed a closeness with the Bishop’s family and the customers. This business and my position here created my voice and confidence,” says Alicia. “Over the years I have developed a rapport within the community and this has become my comfort zone.”

Bishop’s Orchards has and will always carry a special place in Alicia’s heart. Her whole family has worked at the farm market in some capacity or another. “My kids grew up with the 6th generation Bishops’ kids and they have become more than just my work family. Over my 25 years here, the Bishop’s have been very good to me, and myself to them. They are part of my family’s upbringing”

When she is not behind the Customer Service desk, Alicia LOVES to spend time with her family! She has two grandkids, Alaric and Craig, who have just moved to Guilford and are now closer than ever! Her husband is retired so when she takes time off, they like to travel to see their daughter Kellyn who lived in Vermont and now resides in Florida! “We live a simple and quiet life, with everything we could ever need and more! After 42 years of marriage, I say we are doing very well!”

A United Winter Wine Trail

For five years, Bishop’s Orchards spearheaded a winter wine trail program, the CT Coast & Country Winter Wine Trail. Along with our trail was the Litchfield Hills Winter Wine Trail. The overwhelming success of both trails caused for a merger, creating the official CT Winter Wine Trail. The 14 participating wineries include Bishop’s Orchards Winery, Brignole Vineyards, DiGrazia Vineyards, Gouveia Vineyards, Haight-Brown Vineyard, Hopkins Vineyard, Jonathan Edwards Vineyard, Maugle Sierra Vineyards, Miranda Vineyard, Paradise Hills Vineyards, Priam Vineyards, Sharpe Hill Vineyard, Sunset Meadow Vineyards, and Taylor Brooke Winery.

Connecticut agricultural tourism during the winter months tends to slow down. Both Winter Wine Trails were devised to provide people with an incentive to stay local, eat local, and drink local with the passport. How does the passport program work? Simply visit all participating wineries for a wine tasting, and get your passport stamped. Submit your completely stamped passport to one of the wineries by April 7th for a chance to win one of the sponsored prizes! Thanks to our sponsors, we were able to receive over $5K in prizes. Prizes include a two night stay in New York City or Vermont, bed & breakfast packages, overnight packages within CT, spa services, restaurant gift certificates and wine! Passports may be picked up at any of the wineries, but please make sure to check online for each wineries’ hours.  

The CT Winter Wine Trail will be running through April 7th, 2019. All participants must be at least 21 years old. Passports must be submitted with all 14 stamps to one of the participating wineries no later than April 7th. Random prize drawings will happen by April 16th. For details on sponsored prizes and passport regulations, visit www.ctwine.com.

Get Your Ice Cream

It may be winter outside, but it’s never too cold for Bishop’s Own Ice Cream! Haven’t you had enough pies, cakes and cookies during the holiday season? If so, then it’s time for something different! Make it your New Year’s resolution to give our ice cream a try. Just imagine sitting in front of a cozy fire, enjoying a bowl of creamy, delicious, ice cream.

In 2014, the idea to make and sell our own ice cream was born. What started out as a small project with a few flavors, and small amount of freezer space quickly became a successful department. Now our freezer can barely contain all the amazing ice cream that we have produced! With 43 flavors and counting, we have something that is sure to please any palate. In addition to our regular soft serve, we offer low- fat dairy-free vanilla, chocolate and coffee options, as well as a variety of sherbet, and fruit whips. Fruit whips are frozen fruit flavored treats that are both dairy and gluten free. Varieties include strawberry, pineapple, raspberry, pineapple swirl and pineapple strawberry.

Craving ice cream but a quart is too much? Or maybe the family can’t decide on just one flavor? Then it is time to try our ice cream parfaits and sandwiches!  Parfaits are smaller portions sizes (9oz cups) of many of your favorite flavors that are also sold in quarts. We also make delicious ice cream sandwiches. Options include sandwiches made with gluten-free, M&M, Oreo and chocolate chip cookies. Select varieties are sold in 6 and 4 packs, and individually.

Every container of ice cream is hand made by our talented ice cream specialist, Teresa. She is the mastermind behind all of our creative flavors, and names such as Resolution Breaker (Chocolate ice cream with fudge, caramel and Snickers) and Trickster Twist (vanilla and chocolate ice cream with peanut butter, fudge and crunch). She spends hours working hard experimenting with different combinations of flavors and toppings, to ensure that we have the tastiest treats available.

New this year, each month we will be highlighting a different flavor. This month we have selected our newest ice cream, Raspberry Crisp! Treat your taste buds to vanilla ice cream with raspberry flavoring, raspberries, and a crispy mix of oats, cinnamon, brown sugar and butter. So make sure to come down this month and check it out!

FEATURED PERSONALITY – PAUL GENOVESE

Technology can have a mind of its own and it tends to stir the pot at the most inconvenient time!! Enhancing customers’ experience in the Farm Market, transactions at Pick Your Own, online pie orders… you name it! Most of the time these variables cannot be controlled, but we do stand a chance thanks to our IT guru, Paul!! Sometimes it can just be his mere presence standing over your computer. More often than not, it is his experience, patience and problem solving ways that help us 24/7 at Bishop’s Orchards!

Paul started working at Bishop’s Orchards in 2015 with over 20 years of experience as an IT Professional. Previous to Bishop’s, he founded JP-JetNet (later merging to ITG), a computer networking support company. With a degree in computer science from Quinnipiac University, Paul has always continued his education by researching and reviewing the latest technology. Throughout the year, he continues to enroll in programs and conferences to stay current and aid in his self-taught ways.

At Bishop’s his primary focus is growing the IT infrastructure, aiming to provide employees with as many IT services deemed necessary for security and fluidity. “The business is constantly evolving and it is my goal to continue to support the visions of Bishop’s management, and forecasting trends,” says Paul Genovese. “This pertains to all aspects of the business, from Pick Your Own to farm market transactions. One of the biggest priorities was to provide a reliable point of sale environment to a remote locations like our Pick Your Own fields.” Outside of work Paul enjoys brew hopping and heading up to Vermont to see his son for a many ski runs down the mountains.

One Stop For Fresh News

One goal of our business is to keep our everyday customers updated on what is going on with the Farm. And always a frequent question is what goes on in the winter. A Bahamian vacation perhaps? No such luck, winter is a very busy time for all of us on the farm. “Boy I wish we had more snow this year” said no one who works on this farm. Pruning is the biggest single job we do on the farm, with apples, pears and peaches taking four to five months. Regardless of the weather we are out everyday pruning with very few exceptions. We have had some nice weather this year and pruning is moving along nicely. We use either pole chainsaws or battery powered loppers to get the bulk of the work done.

Many ask what we do with the hay from the fall hay pyramid. We use that hay to cover our Strawberries for the winter. Strawberries are very shallow rooted and the freezing and thawing of winter can cause the plants to work themselves out of the ground. The hay allows for a more consistent environment. To do this we use a “bale mulcher” which is actually a hay processor to feed cattle. It’s a beast. A video can be seen here.

The most critical job we have on the farm, and the one that no one sees, is planning and organizing for the next season. We need to decide what crops (non orchard) we will be planting, how much, and where they will go. From there, seed is ordered as well as anything else we will need for the coming year. The bulk of this is done for our Community Supported Agriculture program, or CSA. We have had a CSA program at the farm for eight years now. CSA is a partnership between members and the farm. By purchasing a share in the late winter and spring, the member help offset the expenses of growing crops months before harvest, and in return, members get 20 weeks of super fresh vegetables and fruit.

In today’s world we can get any crop at any time. By joining CSA, you learn the true season of those crops and how much better they are fresh and in season. It’s a great way to get exposed to produce you may not be aware of and certainly a great way to eat healthy. Registration for Bishops CSA Program will begin February 2nd. Space is limited so if you are interested in participating, please click here to register today!