“To Make the Best Better” is the 4-H motto, with the 4-H Club pledge describing the action steps: “I pledge … My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to larger service and My Health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.” Albert Bishop would have turned 90 this week, on the Ides of March, the 15th, a day after Pi Day. He lived 87 years, fulfilling the motto and pledge as an FFA and 4-H Club member and 4-H adult leader, serving and bettering our world.
One of his legacies is forming the Apple Pi Robotics Team at Guilford High School in 2006. (the name symbolizing the farm, its bakery and math pi=3.14159167) This STEM program enriches many facets of life, giving students new insights into the multifaceted world of robotics. As the only FIRST robotics team founded and continually sponsored by a farm, Al Bishop always described himself as the team’s catalyst; he was inspired to found Team 2067 after watching his grandson Seth’s participation in the Manchester NH Robotics program. Like many student team members, Seth formed a love of STEM that inspired his college choices and career, leading him to his work as an imagery analyst. Read more on robotics in this previous post. My parents Al and Barb Bishop executed and delivered the 4-H pledge. Thanks to their hard work alongside other family members, our farm has made great strides to grow, survive and prosper in Guilford, adapting to the demands of the marketplace, size of the family and the crops we grow.
Gone are the cows of the ‘30s. Vision and fortitude to take on new risks associated with farming were passed on from my Grandfather Arthur and Great Uncle Charles as they bought more land and adapted the partnership in 1957 to include the 4th Generation. Shifts occurred from “Truck Gardening” vegetable production, sales to wholesalers and direct store deliveries of apples to Stop & Shop into direct retail at the ‘farm stand’ on Route 1. Strawberries, blueberries, then raspberries were added to the mix replacing larger acreage of vegetables, morphing into retail and PYO sales under Dad’s direction, complementing his cousin Gene’s production of apples, peaches and pears. In 1973, a plunge was taken to open the ‘farm stand’ into a year round retail farm market. 50 years later, the 600 sq ft. ‘market’ in the landmark hip-roof barn is now 8500 sq ft with diversity that extends beyond the walls into the fields with agri-tourism events, PYO and our CSA.
Frugal choices and sweat equity took Mom and Dad from UCONN grads to experiences in Ireland and Germany, back to Guilford where they designed and built their first and lifetime home adjacent to the farm. Improvements to the home came room by room as they initially used savings from college jobs, Dad’s ROTC and USAF service and farm projects to fund their home. Dad worked alongside contractors they hired to keep it affordable as they raised 4 children and borrowed additional funds in small increments rather than a larger traditional mortgage.
Finally, just as I opened this post, I now circle back to my Eulogy to Dad on April 2, 2017 with over 300 people gathered at the First Congregational Church, whose lives he touched. I closed that Eulogy with the 4-H pledge, which he actively lived and passed on in diverse ways.