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!