Coming to us 10 years ago from a local CT Vineyard and Winery, Michaele Williams has become an essential part of the farm staff at Bishop’s Orchards. Currently the Manager of the greenhouses, small fruits and vegetables, and the seasonal and full time farm staff, Michaele has a lot on her plate not just in the spring and summer months, but throughout the entire year – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
A typical day for Michaele involves organizing and prioritizing tasks that need to be done and timing them with unpredictable factors like weather, ground workability and timing based on stage of growth (tree, bush, flower/vegetable transplant). Once the staff are given their assignments, she scouts and manages the care given to the vegetable, flower, small fruit and greenhouse crops.
What some people may not realize is that even though spring has officially begun, field work is an ongoing process. “Work on the farm has been ongoing to get ahead of the spring start,” Michaele explains. From rototilling, plastic laying, blueberry pruning, preparing irrigation lines for warmer days and fertilizing long term crops, these are only a few things Michaele has to do to prepare for the spring start. “Winter time definitely gives you time to breath. However, there’s still a lot to do.” For example, updating and repairing equipment, meetings and seminars to learn and prepare for next year’s crops, pruning (apple, peach and pear trees, blueberries, raspberries), seed ordering and planting calendars. All of these necessary tasks this has to be done before spring arrives.
As for what’s happening on the farm now, we just finished transplanting 329 10-year old blueberry bushes that came from a farm in Kensington, CT. “On Sunday, we just put the last one in the ground. Now we have to backfill with topsoil, add irrigation lines and mulch them.” The addition of these blueberry bushes will not only increase blueberry production and the supply in the store and our CSA program, but also provide more for customers to come out and pick themselves during our Pick-Your-Own season! Currently we are also taking the hay off the tops of strawberries that protected them from the winter cold, grafting apple trees, and getting ready to bring the herbs and Mother’s Day baskets into the store on May 1.
Not only does the local, fresh produce give Michaele something to look forward to each year, but working at Bishop’s Orchards has given her other reasons to love her job as well. “My favorite part about working at Bishop’s is the diversity in my job and the people I get to do it with. Producing quality fruit and vegetables that people are taking home and feeding to their families means a great deal to me. It really impacted me the first time I was thanked for doing what I do. It is hard work but worth it.”