Category: What’s going on in the farm

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.

 

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.

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.

Give Gifts From the Farm

This holiday season give a gift from the farm!! Fresh and local gifts from Bishop’s Orchards are the perfect way to show your appreciation towards others! For years our customers have enjoyed special gifts from the Farm Market. Whether it be a small basket for a teacher or hostess, or an apple shipper sent across the country, our products and produce are sure to not disappoint this holiday season.

Apple shippers are our most popular gifts that are available for shipping. Large, crisp, juicy apples are nestled in foam to insure tree perfect apples from our farm. When you purchase a shipper, you will receive eighteen handpicked fancy apples!! If you don’t know what variety to pick, you can get a sampler that will include varieties that are in season. What is great about our apple shippers is that it provides flavor and exclusivity from a different area. Send some apples down south or to the midwest where they can enjoy varieties that are not grown out there. Along with our apple shippers, we also ship our Bishop’s own apples cider, kettle corn popcorn and apple cider donuts!

Handmade fruit baskets are a really nice touch for a centerpiece or as a gift. Our front end staff makes these per request, featuring our freshest and finest of fruits, gourmet specialty cheese, and treats from the bakery! These baskets are gorgeous and are even suitable as corporate gifts. Other gift basket options available are our Grab N’ Go baskets. These smaller scaled baskets are great to give your teacher or a hostess. The baskets feature the following themes: breakfast, chips & salsa, and Italian!  Grab N’ Go gift baskets are available in the farm market, only while supplies last.

If all else fails, gift cards are always a good go-to for any function. Give them as office gifts or in a yankee swap! Gift cards, apples shippers, cider, donuts and other gift items can be ordered online. Fruit baskets must be ordered on the phone or in person at the Customer Service desk. If you have any questions or would like to place an order, call 203-453-2338.

Paint N’ Sip

Back in May, Bishop’s Orchards teamed up with Painted by the Shore to host one-of-a-kind DIY paint classes at the Little Red Barn. Each class features specialty designs with a more unique approach, inviting guests to create usable art like coasters, glassware and serving trays! Art instructors simplify the process by teaching you as you go, inspiring creativity in an environment to socialize with current and new friends. When paired up with local wine and pickings, we have what we call Paint & Sip Classes.

So far we have hosted a few evenings, all receiving fantastic feedback!! We are excited to further this partnership by making these evenings a more frequent occurrence. Come out to the farm for our next Paint & Sip Night with a Snowman Chalkboard on December 6th! We will be launching another event on December 4th for kids called our ‘Lil’ Paint & Sip Night. Kids can come spend an evening painting Christmas Ornaments while enjoying some festival treats like hot apple cider, popcorn & donuts!

Tickets for all events must be purchased ahead of time, with limited space available. Our November class sold out in two weeks, so register now. All supplies and directions come ready for you, all you need to bring are some friends!!! Our December classes will be the last for 2018, with new classes starting in February. To stay up-to-date with Paint & Sip Nights on the farm, check back in on our What’s Happening events page.

Fundraising Opportunities

The fall season brings more to Bishop’s than just apples, pumpkins and cooler temperatures. It brings a time for giving and outreach to the community. Here at Bishop’s Orchards we proudly participate in and support local non-profit charities, schools and other organizations with fundraising needs! Our Pie Fundraiser Program is simple and a great opportunity to come together and raise money.  You can think of this program as if it were a Bake Sale! Purchase your items through us at a discounted price and then sell at a suggested price.

We offer a wide selection of our pies from the farm (baked fresh or frozen), cream pies, tea breads and cookie dough! Apple pie, fruits of the farm, pecan, banana cream… you name it! There is a minimum of 50 pies to participate in this program, an easily met goal by all. For most fundraisers, we suggest doing frozen pies due to freshness factor and having a more flexible pick-up schedule. You are going to want to set-up a cutoff date for incoming orders, so make sure to leave a few extra days to collect and calculate everything. All orders must be placed with Bishop’s Orchards at least 14 days prior to your pick date.

A 50% down payment is due when you place your order, with the remaining balance due upon pick up. Pies are individually packed in pie containers for freshness and protection. Baking instructions are included on each label and pies must be kept frozen until ready to bake. All tea breads are fresh but can be frozen. The cookie dough comes preformed and prepacked with 24 to a container. Nutritional information for our items is available upon request. For more information or to get started, visit us online and download the forms!

A NEW Generation!

As a family owned business, generational growth is a key component to our sustainability. Over the winter, a pivotal transition occurred here at Bishop’s Orchards. 6th generation family members Sarah Bishop DellaVentura and Carrie Bishop Healy were promoted and took over new roles as the Chief Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer.

Sarah has been with the company since 2007, where she started as the company’s Marketing Director and Pick-Your-Own Manager. Her background is in Business and Marketing, having worked for agencies in Boston and Fairfield County! As the new Chief Operations Officer, Sarah will oversee all Operations and Strategic Growth, both on the Retail and Farm side. Carrie moved back from Boston and joined the company in 2014.  She worked for seven years in corporate Accounting and Auditing for two different companies, prior to finally making the move back home. With her new position as the Chief Financial Officer, she will deal with the administrative side of the business, overseeing the Finance, HR and IT Departments.

Sarah and Carrie’s message to the business and community speaks volumes towards their hope for the company’s future:

“As members of the next generation stepping into this next level of leadership, we are excited for the future and what is to come. We have watched this business evolve over the years and we take pride in continuing what generations before us have built. We are committing ourselves to the business as well as each of you. As a family business, six generations in, we want to continue to carry on the business for future generations with the high reputation and regard that we always have both to our employees and community.”

Sarah and Carrie have exhibited dedication, hard work and growth in their time thus far in the family business. Their passion and vision for the farm and business mirror everything the business stands for… all things “family, food and recreation!” Bishop’s Orchards is sure to see exciting new things in the future, all of which will contribute to our growth and success within our community!

Shoreline Wine Festival Coming Soon!!

It’s that time of year again when the wine is pouring, music is playing, and the food trucks are lined up!!! Bishop’s Orchards is less than a month away from hosting their 12th Annual 2018 Shoreline Wine Festival! August 11th and 12th  is your chance to celebrate fine wines from Connecticut Wineries and Vineyards from all over the state. The festival is hosted & sponsored by Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market and Winery in Guilford, CT, bringing close to 3,000 attendees over the weekend. Other wineries participating in this year’s festival include Hopkins Vineyard, Jonathan Edwards Winery, Jones Family Farm Winery, Paradise Hills Vineyard, Sunset Meadow Vineyards, and Taylor Brooke Winery.  Enjoy our featured wineries from around the state, all offering their fine wines that range from grape wines to fruit wines.

This festival has grown triple the size from its first year, now hosting around forty vendors and seven to eight food trucks. One of the many benefits for attendees at the Shoreline Wine Festival is that all wine that is sampled by the vineyards at the Festival are available for sale that weekend to take home with you. This is something that many festivals do not and cannot offer. This two day festival is a ticketed event that affords you the opportunity to taste the wines from all of the wineries, enjoy a tour of the Bishop’s Orchards Winery, live music and entertainment, and a chance to visit with local vendors and artisans.  Food offered at the event is from our eclectic food truck line, at an additional charge. Food trucks will include tacos, steamed burgers, lobster rolls, BBQ, grilled cheese, mac n cheese, fresh squeezed lemonade, Italian cuisine and pizza.

Vendors attending the event range from home remodeling and renovation companies, to olive oil, hand painted wine glasses, clothes and accessories and more!! Pair this with fine food, the backdrop setting of a beautiful farm orchard and background sounds of tasteful music to put you in a relaxing mood. Entertainment is provided by Music in Motion DJ/MC services and renowned local band, “The Ticket.” This year’s festival could not happen if not for the support of our sponsors. Our sponsors brought in over $30K to help fund the event. Sponsorships include Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets, Foxon Soda, Mosaic, Proforma, Miranda Creative, WFSB/CBS, Shore Publishing, Old Amsterdam, Outfront Media, and Becker’s Jewelers.

Tickets for the event may be purchased ahead of time online and at Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market at a discounted rate. Prices for tickets are $30 for Adults, $60 for VIP, and $10 for Designated Driver Tickets. Starting August 4th and at the festival gates, ticket prices will go up for Adult and VIP tickets. Entrance into the festival, as well as a tasting ticket, wine glass and attendee gift bag are all included in an Adult Ticket. In addition to the previously mentioned, the VIP tickets also include two “wine by the glasses” tickets, access into the VIP tent (refreshments and lounge), Clinton Crossing Premium Outlet Gift Bags and a free bottle of wine, pre-determined by the hosting winery. Foxon Soda is our Designated Driver Sponsor, giving soda and water free of charge to all DD ticket holders. The hours of the event are Saturday, Aug. 11th, 12 pm – 7 pm and Sunday, Aug. 12th, 12 pm – 6 pm. For more information visit our website at www.shorelinewinefestival.com.

Farm Feature: Anderson Farms

You know that delicious farm fresh spinach that comes to Bishop’s Orchards around the beginning of May? It’s a customer favorite, and for good reason. Not only does it come straight from Anderson Farms in Wethersfield, CT, but it is about as farm fresh as it gets. Andersoanderson farms vegetable standn Farms has been a family run business since 1856, and they’re still going strong. With over 156 acres of land, they grow around 30 different fruits and vegetables that they distribute all over the state and sell at the market stand right on the side of the road by their farm in Wethersfield.

From their most popular items like corn (90 acres), spinach, beets and squash. To beans, melons, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and more, neighbors and customers from all around sit on the edge of their seats for the release of their seasonal favorites. Especially when it comes to the spinach from Anderson Farms. Customers can’t wait to get their hands on it because yes, it’s that good.

They begin to plant in April and go through May and June. Once July and August hit, they stop due to the hot temperatures, but once it cools down, they start planting again through October. Anderson Farms grows two different types of spinach – winter over spinach and regular. Winter over spinach goes dormant in the winter while regular spinach can keep in the cooler spring and fall temperatures.fresh spinach from anderson farms

For those of you wondering whether the spinach is organic or not, the good news is they keep the spraying to a minimum, if any at all. “For the most part, the spinach isn’t sprayed at all. If a disease appears then we may spray, but the spinach is pretty much organic,” said family member Craig Anderson. They even pick it by hand and wash it by hand – leaving it clean of dirt and sand.

We are proud to feature Anderson Farms and their produce in our market. It may be a customer favorite, but it’s also one of ours. If you’re interested in purchasing any of these farm fresh items, take a drive up to Wethersfield and stop by their farm stand, open daily with different seasonal items. Or, come in to Bishop’s Orchards and see what’s in season. You can expect beets, radishes, and beet greens, with corn coming late in the Fall!

The Beauty of the Apple Blossoms

One of our favorite parts about spring on the farm here at Bishop’s Orchards are the apple blossoms! If you live local, you probably saw them as you drove on Long Hill Road behind our farm market. They’re those pretty pink and white flowers on the trees right along the hillside. They are always a true sight to see and make springtime that much more enjoyable. But what some people might not know is there’s much more to them than their beauty. They serve an important purpose that impacts fruit production on the tree. So, let’s go through everything you need to know about the lifecycle of an apple blossom:

When They Blossom

Apple blossoms typically bloom anywhere from early spring to late summer. The earlier apple varieties like McIntosh, Gala, Honeycrisp and Fuji would be the first ones you see, and the later varieties like Macoun, Mutsu and Pink Lady will blossom later on in the summer. The center blossom, also called the king blossom, opens first and may grow a larger apple than the other blossoms.

Pollination Time

In order for these blossoms to become fruit, they need to cross-pollinate. Some varieties can self-pollinate but when cross-pollinated with other trees and varieties, it’s been shown to produce better fruit. We here at Bishop’s Orchards bring in our own bees to help with the pollination process. Once complete, the blossom falls off and over time, grows into fruit.

Fun Facts

  1. Not only do the blossoms turn into apples, but the blossoms can be eaten themselves! It turns out, they are high in antioxidants and have a sweet flavor to them. When made into a tea you can experience benefits like clear complexion, better digestion and stress relief. In addition, they can make a great whiskey, jelly and are wonderful paired with other edible flowers as a garnish. Like anything, they should be eaten in moderation.
  2. The apple blossom is a member of the rose family.
  3. Most apple blossoms are known for their white and pink color. But how pink they turn actually depends on the apple variety.

Now that you know all this information about apple blossoms, you probably want to go see some. So, if you’re looking for a scenic drive, come by our farm market in the beginning to mid-May every year in Guilford, CT. They can be seen right from the road and the parking lot at our store!