As I look at my drone photo of our new ground solar array, the shape like an arm, it reminds me of my wife lovingly teasing me about my farmer’s tan, my arms darkened by hard work under the sun, yet my shirt blocking the rays completely, like the panels shading the grass. Our new solar array is engineered to maximize (hence the shape) the harvest of the sun’s rays on our New England hillside that was formed by glaciers, only letting reflected light get to the grass below. With shallow soils and exposed ledge, it was a wonderful sledding hill for me and generations of Bishop children, even when Christmas trees grew there! But now we’re growing kWh – kilowatt hours- that will displace fossil fuels to power about 80% of our farm’s annual electric usage, and power our Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers that are free for public use via our installation agreement with CT DEEP.
I 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.
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 thank 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.
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.
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.
Keith B. Bishop