Category: What’s going on in the farm

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!

 

Going Green in the Greenhouse

Farming at Bishop’s Orchards has truly expanded over the years.  Part of that expansion has been the greenhouses located across the street from the store, behind the barn. In 2006 the first greenhouse was built with the second one following two years later. Originally built to grow the vegetable transplants to be put in our fields, but now they’re being used for several reasons. From April through September, they are used daily to grow not only vegetable transplants, but flower transplants for the fields, and potted herbs for the store.

Now I know what you’re thinking….what is a vegetable transplant? I was wondering the same thing. But thanks to Michaele Williams, the Assistant Farm Manager, she explained the process to me. “A transplant is seeded in our greenhouse 4-6 weeks before the last chance of frost to get a head start. It is then transplanted to our field after the chance of any frost has passed,” Michaele explains. “We have a total of about 90,000 transplants. We germinate approximately 38,000 flower transplants, with the majority being Zinnias (16,000). We also do about 4,000 Sunflowers and a mix of Lisianthus, Delphiniums, Bachelors Buttons, Statice, Snapdragons, Cockcomvs, Queen Anne’slace, and an assortment of others which are for sale in the store and through a CSA share. Every seed is started in the greenhouse and are then brought outside and planted in the fields.”

Michaele added that this year we are also doing more vegetable transplants than we’ve ever done before. And you know what that means? More farm fresh produce to purchase in the store! We will have, Brussel Sprouts, Cucumbers, Cantaloupes, Fennel, Kale, Peas, Peppers, Radicchio, Summer Squash, Winter Squash, and a large quantity of Tomatoes (about 10,000 transplants). New to the crop this year are the Swiss Chard, Pedrone Peppers, and Broccolini transplants.

In addition to vegetables, every year one of our most popular greenhouse items hits the shelf – our Mother’s Day baskets! 75 baskets are made and within two weeks we’re completely sold out. The reason for such high demand is not only because they make the perfect gift, but because of what’s in them and how easy we make it to plant and grow them right at home. The main herbs you could find in them are Basil, Dill, Oregano, Thyme, Chive, Cilantro or Tarragon. They are put into a biodegradable bowl that can either then be put right into a planter, or if you want them to grow larger, you can separate them and plant them individually. We are also adding two new bowls to the shelf – a Lettuce bowl which will contain a combination of both red and green lettuce, and a mixed Kale bowl that can be eaten raw or used for sauteing.

Not only do we sell our herbs and vegetables in the store, but they are also used in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  Local restaurants like to get in on the farm fresh goodness too!  South Lane Bistro in Guilford is one of our largest supporters and uses many of our herbs and vegetables to cook with, as well as garnish dishes, in their restaurant. While there are other restaurants that use our fresh, seasonal produce, we are hoping to partner with more restaurants in the community.  Many chefs want that local farm fresh flavor, and knowing exactly where the food they are cooking with is coming from.

If you’re interested in learning more about our herbs and vegetables or starting a partnership with us, give us a call at 203-453-2338 or visit our website at www.bishopsorchards.com. AND be sure to check back soon for our Mother’s Day baskets (available two weeks before Mother’s Day)!

Integrated Pest Management Process (IPM)

Every year we get asked about how we manage our pest problems, and honestly it’s a difficult question to answer. Not that we have reservations about telling anyone – in fact, we are quite proud of our pest management program.

There are two types of pest (and disease) control programs: Organic, and what people call “conventional”. Organic is fairly simple in that only organic based (derived from natural sources) products are used for disease, insect, and plant nutrition. For some reason many people feel Organic means unsprayed. But, in fact Organic crops frequently are sprayed more than Farms using non organic products.

pest management at bishop's orchardsI put parentheses around “conventional” because that is what not being Organic is referred to in the media. Conventional is a term that goes back to the 60’s and 70’s, when synthetic pesticides were new and used to describe a program of Orchard sanitation (kill everything). Basically, the conventional program evolved around the calendar, “It’s the first week of June so we spray.”

That type of program lost its steam when Orchard sanitation failed and people started to realize you need to work within the ecosystem of the farm to manage pest and disease issues. This was the beginning of a program called Integrated Pest Management or IPM – the type of program we follow today.

An IPM program follows a series of guidelines to help a farmer make sound, science based decisions on the actions taken to control pest or diseases. Any given decision is based on multiple factors, creating a complicated process. Factors include weather/environmental conditions, presence or lack of predator insects, establishment of a threat, and meeting threshold numbers for target insects. If a determination is made, a control is needed. Then we evaluate our control options to target whether or not the pest (or disease) is safe, minimally invasive, but can control the target to maintain numbers below an economic threshold. However, sometimes scouting and analysis might show no need to treat. The threshold numbers for control may not have been met, and the weather may not be advantageous for disease to take hold.

For our IPM program we utilize the University extension service to “scout” the Orchard weekly, helping with on site advice and informative research Emails. In addition, we do our own scouting to stay on top of what is going on in the Orchard. We also tract “degree hours”, insect stages, and tree stages which all give us information we use to make decisions.

For every crop we grow there are different Insects and diseases, and evaluations are different for each. It’s very complicated sometimes, but we have a very experienced staff that wants to preserve the longevity and legacy of Bishops Orchards. We do our best to assure the best and safest fruit we can provide our customers.

Back to Our Roots with Bishop’s CSA Program

Registration for the 2018 CSA Program at Bishop’s Orchards is officially open! For some, you might already know the benefits of being a part of this exclusive program. But for those of you who might not, here is a little background on what the CSA Program is and why you should join.

Our CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) program is designed to give customers an exclusive look into the farm side of Bishop’s Orchards by providing them with farm fresh products, information and news. It’s a way to show our customers what picking local and fresh truly means while exposing people to a side of the business that they haven’t seen before, and providing them with quality products throughout the harvest season.

In order to fit the needs of our customers, we have several different share sizes and options. From vegetables to fruits, cheeses and more, what you receive in your basket each week is always fresh, and locally grown from farms nearby. We also look for small farms that have unique products that add something to our CSA that’s different from any other. For example, garlic, ginger, and mushrooms – there’s a lot of unique products out there and we seek to expose people to not just the products but the farms that are growing them.

This year, we will have our full share (good for a family of 4) and medium share (good for 2-3 people) – both containing fruits and vegetables. We also have our Specialty Share (containing 2-3 Connecticut produced items), a Cheese Share, Egg Share, a Flower Share, and NEW this year, a Mushroom Share that will run for 10 weeks beginning in July. The mushrooms will be provided by Chatfield Hollow Farms in Killingworth, CT and includes varieties such as Maitake, Beech and Royal Trumpet.

Every shareholder will be given a weekly pick-up day and time of the week, where you will pick up your basket, take it home, enjoy what’s in it, and return it to be refilled the following week. AND, in addition to all these farm fresh items, you gain access to a community board. That way, if you don’t know what to make with the items in your share or proper storing, the community board allows you to chat with other local members, swap recipe ideas, and keep up to date on what to expect in your share each week.

Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Whether you want flowers, mushrooms, fruits or vegetables, there’s sure to be a share option designed for your family and you. Space is limited, so if you’re interested in participating in our 2018 CSA Program, please visit http://csa.bishopsorchards.com/members/types to register today!