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May 1, 2023

2023 Family Biz Awards: Keith B. Bishop

Bishop’s Orchards’ multifaceted family farm operation owns 313 acres, on which grow fruits and vegetables. The business includes the operation of a farm market, winery, farm kitchen, community supported agriculture, pick-your-own and Little Red Bar(n) agritainment area.

The business morphed from a general subsistence farm of the late 1800s with cows, vegetables and ice into apples and truck farming in the 1920s; then to retail in the 1970s, with major building expansions in 1978, 1989 and 2005.

CEO Keith B. Bishop’s dedication to agriculture progressed after graduation from Cornell, majoring in agriculture economics. Over four decades, from one of four co-managing family members to co-CEO and then CEO, a love of work, hands-on doing and learning always inspires him.

Keith Bishop has been mentored and grown thanks to many family, friends and associates, including from the University of New Haven Center for Family Business and Farm Bureau.

Tell us about your recent accomplishments.

Raising a wonderful family with my wife Debbie, and working hard with our family to keep Bishop’s Orchards successful, vibrant, growing and a pillar of our town into our seventh generation, is our accomplishment.

Starting the winery in 2005 has allowed more diversity. On the board of education, supporting excellence in our schools and building a new Guilford High School was an accomplishment. In agriculture, being a Farm Bureau leader allowed me to support and promote sustainable local farms, and protect our lands and property rights.

What are your family values and how do they contribute to your business success?

They are commitment and honesty, living up to my word, hard work and respect for each other, maintaining an open and constructive dialogue with family and staff, generosity and compassion by actively supporting others and being a lifelong learner.

One of my favorite quotes: ‘Success comes in cans, not in cannots.’

Where do you see your business in the next five years?

We hope to offer more on farm experiences to families while maintaining our roots. The sixth generation is forging ahead to adapt, expand and attract guests to new agritainment activities centered around our farm products, including food, wine, cider, entertainment and farm events.

Do you have a business succession plan?

Yes! Working with advisors is critical and promotes success. Our formal succession planning started in 1957, when the third generation started.

In 2019, our buy-sell was triggered with fifth-generation cousin Jonathan retiring, with myself and sixth generation children taking on full management and ownership. The transfer to the sixth generation is underway, with my retirement coming in August 2024.

Click here to see the rest of the 2023 Family Business Award Honorees

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