The New England Fellowship of Agricultural Adventurers presented Albert and Barbara Bishop, of Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford, Connecticut with the 2015 Agricultural Adventurers Award at the Annual Meeting of Eastern States Exposition (ESE) in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Bishops, along with Al’s cousin Gene and other family members, own and manage the popular business, founded in 1871 by Walter Goodrich Bishop who bought the land that is now home to the famous orchard. Al and Gene are the fourth generation to carry on the stewardship, their sons Keith and Jonathan, respectively, are the fifth generation serving as co-CEOs, and the sixth generation joined the business in 2007 when Sarah Bishop Dellaventura became Marketing director and Pick-Your-Own manager. Carrie Bishop Healy, sixth generation, joined the business in 2014 as Accounting manager, after receiving her Master’s degree in Finance from Bentley University and her work at KPMG.
With the support and involvement of multiple generations, Bishop’s Orchards has grown into a farm market selling fruit, vegetables, fresh cut flowers, milk, eggs, jams, honey, cheeses and a variety of meats. Rows of apples, berries, vegetables and flowers can be personally picked by customers. The Bishop’s Farm Bakery turns out fresh pies, breads, muffins and cookies daily and the award-winning Bishop’s Orchard Winery offers dozens of locally made wine, including 12 kinds of wine made at the orchard. They have been awarded more than 271 medals since the Winery started in 2005 including four Double Gold and 15 Gold.
In 1975, the farm and family was awarded the Century Farm Award by then Governor, the late Ella Grasso, and the Connecticut Board of Agriculture, honoring its 104th year of operation under the same family ownership.
The Bishops are involved with a number of philanthropic organizations. Barbara was an International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE) delegate to Northern Ireland during her days in academia and they have hosted more than 60 exchange students from Moldova, Zambia, Uzbekistan and more. They helped to develop the 4-H Farm Resource Center, an educational farm program that helps the public learn how food is produced.
Having met while students at the University of Connecticut, where Al studied agriculture with a special emphasis on olericulture and pomology, the growing of fruits and vegetables, and Barbara studied in what is now the School of Family Studies, the Bishops remain very involved with their Alma Mater. They serve on the UConn College of Agriculture Alumni Board and have endowed a scholarship to support students in their junior year attending the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Al is an accomplished wood turner and has created hundreds of bowls, many of which are donated to charity events as well as the College’s annual fundraising auction.
Al is past chairman of the New Haven County Extension Service and is a member of and active on committees of the First Congregational Church of Guilford, the National Junior Vegetable Growers, the Connecticut Experiment Station Associates, Alderbrook Cemetery Association, Connecticut Wood Turners, the Guilford Community Fund, the CT Farm Bureau and the University of New Haven Center for Family Business. He is also a 20-year volunteer member of the Eagle Hose Fire Company and a past president of the Connecticut Pomological Society. Al and Barbara have also been involved in Cooperative Extension roles.
Believers in the value of hands-on learning, the Bishops spearheaded a FIRST robotics team at Guilford High School, “Apple Pi Robotics Team.” Al was also instrumental in connecting Apple Pi with the 4-H robotics initiative and it became a registered 4-H club. The partnership with 4-H has allowed the Apple Pi to partner with the agriculture community more directly to spread STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) initiatives to a whole new community. These programs introduce different STEM career paths to young people to inspire the innovators of tomorrow.