Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Written and Researched by: Alan Reed Bishop of Hip-Gnosis Seed Development and Bishop's Homegrown
I know a lot of folks are big into keeping most of their winter squashes separate. While I do maintain a great portion of my very rare squash in their originally intended state (and always will as long as they remain rare), the past two years I have been planting mass plantings of various types of winter squashes like Moshata's, Mixta's, Maxima's, and Agrospermia types (no Pepo types, I already have two categories of those grown separately, an acorn/mini pumpkin type which shows great diversity and my separated by variety summer squashes). I'm basically interested in seeing what happens in the coming years with the crossing of these various types in my fields and with picking out and maintaining the ones I find most tasteful as well as beautiful and practical (storage ability, processing). When I find something I like out of the mix then the work begins on "selfing" or "self pollinating" that particular type until I can find a selection similar to what I first took note of and then I'll grow it out for several years until I find the open pollinated equivalent. The other seed from squash that still resembles the original parents or doesn't represent something I am particularly keen on just goes back into the pot for planting the next season (as long as is stores and tastes well), along with newly grown out seed stocks of types that weren't previously in the mix and the whole experiment goes on next year. This also works out well at the farmers market and here on the farm as there is always plenty of winter squash for roadside and farm stand sales in colors, shapes and sizes that are both common and those which no one have ever seen before, this definitely leads to a little bit of monetary gain for the fall as winter squash for Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations have replaced the once ever-popular Jack O' lantern in recent years here in Southern Indiana.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I really enjoy "playing" with the genetics of different plants and attempting my own breeding projects. I've got so many things on my mentally imagined "docket" that I would like to attempt to cross or breed, mostly looking for taste, tolerance to environmental or insect pressures, nutrition, and novelty, that sometimes I'm not sure I could get them all done in a lifetime. A lot of open pollinated seed enthusiast would probably frown upon my ideas and implementation of breeding different heirlooms and Open Pollinated cultivars into new hybrids in mass crosses but I figure as long as the cultivars are being grown out by a good number of individuals and are still available to the gardening public and I keep a small sample pure for future use, well then, why not shake and bake and see what happens.
The Astronomy Domine sweet corn breeding project is on of those such mass crosses. You see, I had about 20 different open pollinated sweet corns in my collection, some where pretty rare and a few were very precious local and regional family heirlooms (I do still keep pure strains of those) and some were more commonly available results of the hard work of seed savers and independent plant breeders the world over. A good percentage of these cultivars were beautiful rainbow type colors such as Rainbow Inca, Triple play, Black Mexican, Festival mix, Double Red, Millersburg red, Hopi Pink sweet, Painted Hills and so forth and I was becoming more and more interested in the work of brave plant breeders like Alan Kapuler and Ken Ettlinger, so I decided that it was time for me to make a donation to the public domain sweet corn breeding sector.
What I decided to go after was the most genetically diverse sweet corn ever bred which would have good cool soil germination, drought tolerance and ear cover (to prevent insect damage) while at the same time providing added nutrition in the form of anti-oxidants like Anthocyanin. So drawing upon the work of Dave Christensen and his Painted Mountain Indian corn which he has crossed numerous times (I believe I read 50 plus somewhere) I set out to do that last year, taking some small samples of multiplied seeds of 20 plus different cultivars as well as Burpee's recent introduction Ruby Queen sweet corn and planted a small plot to do some mass crossing, of course I planted way to early and germination wasn't the best, but that actually turned out in my favor since I was planting at different times and some of these corns had drastically different maturity dates, this also gave me a bit of an automatic head start on selecting for cool soil emergence. When it came harvest time (the shucks had turned brown and started to dry) I was astonished at the beauty of some of the ears of this corn, not only did I end up with colors and shades I expected, but I also got a ton of stuff that I didn't expect. We ended up with solid colors, faded colors, pastel colors, near transparent kernels, striped patterns, some polka dotting and some cobs just had a terrific mixture of everything you could ever imagine.
I saved about 5 or 6 lbs of seed from about 200 cobs and mixed it up well and offered it up for free or for trade as breeding material over at http://alanbishop.proboards60.com/ hoping some others would be interested in getting in on some first generation breeding experiments so we could diversify the original stock into multiple lines adapted to different areas around the country (and now indeed the world) and do some comparing and contrasting back and forth over the next few years. I also made it known that folks should feel free to alter this by adding in new cultivars and seed stocks as they so choose and people have really been receptive to it.
My current seed stock that will go into the ground in spring '08 has already had a number of new cultivars (well, new to me) added into the initial stock already and I am now close to having 30 different cultivars of sweet corn going into next years second mass cross, I really don't know what to expect out of all of it, and at some point I would like to stop crossing it and try to get a nice open pollinated version that would serve a triple purpose in the future, that of a sweet corn in milk stage and a flour and decorative corn when dry (or worm food in my case). I am planning on having multiple plots laid out for this particular experiment, one that will be nothing but seed/breeding stock and home use and another 2 where I will cross it to a large eared, sugar enhanced and detassled White Variety to take to market and offer to the CSA, I will probably save seed of both lines and then make a decision later of which to keep and which to shelf (if I shelf either of them).
I would ultimately like to get this project up to about fifty different diverse sweet corns bred into it and I am always on the lookout for colourful sweet types to add into the mix, so if you know of any let me know. I plan on joining the Seed Savers Exchange next year and I am sure I will find and order all kinds of goodies to add in before planting season starts, so the number of cultivars involved in the crop might even jump up to 40 before planting starts!
As are all of my breeding projects, this too is a public domain project of my Hip-Gnosis seed development project, and once developed I hope to offer it to a wide number of gardeners throughout the world without ever seeing the letters PVP (plant variety protected) next to it or a big seed company hyping it as the next big thing. This corn is just as much yours as it is mine. I didn't create anything, all I did is use what I have and let those things cross through the course of nature and natural selection, the only thing that is different in this corn and it's parents are in it's segregation of genes and re-combination there-in. Sort of like if I wrote a song, I didn't really do anything other than put a puzzle together, all the pieces already existed, I'm just the first one to put them together in that order.
I will keep you updated on this project probably quite often throughout the '08 growing season and I hope one day all of you have the chance to grow this particular corn (named after a Pink Floyd song) in your home gardens or receive it in your CSA boxes or at market.
My cousin Jeff (far right) has been in from Houston Texas the past couple of weeks giving me a hand here at the farm when he has a free day here and there. We always make it a point to try to incorporate Jeff's half brother and my cousin Montana (middle) into things that we do when we have a chance. As long as Montana doesn't have to get dirty and it doesn't involve snakes all is well. Montana has a slight learning disability but he is one of the best guys you could ever know and always good for a laugh, just don't mention snakes, or anything about them, or turtles, frogs, lizards, anything reptilian or amphibian and all is good!
Jeff really does a lot to help me, my family and the business out when he is in town and I am really appreciative of it and that Montana now has a true brother to hang out with and look up to. For reasons I won't list here (other than to say family differences) Montana and I never met Jeff until back in 2006. Montana and Jeff's father, my uncle, passed away in an unfortunate Motorcycle crash when we were both four, Jeff is about 7 years our senior and by the time we were born he was no longer around our area and we unfortunately weren't allowed contact with him by his mother...ever (even though his father also had custody of him). Needless to say, imagine our excitement when one day the phone rings and a long lost cousin is on the other end!
It only makes things that much better that Jeff and I share similar interests in agriculture since he is a landscaper and permaculturist, even on slow days here on the farm we can find something to talk about or do and spend some time with Montana. This pic was important for me to get up on the blog because we need to get a lot more pictures taken to make up for all of those missed in the past, this was also taken on my mothers birthday on the 13'Th of December and having Jeff and Montana around to celebrate with her, my Dad, and Kim really made her day, which in turn made mine.
I guess this is just a tribute of sorts to two of the best guys and two of the best friends I've ever known. Three Imaginary Boys of sorts.....(obscure The Cure reference)
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
I have a bit of a "tic" or "quirk" if you will. If you didn't know what I did for a living you might find me a bit strange, maybe a little off. You see I have a bit of an obsession, put me in a room with someone who has livestock and you can guarantee that at some point in time the words "What do you do with your manure?" will flow from my lips. It's not that I have an intense desire to play with "poo" if you will, it's more a matter of sustaining my business naturally and feeding my plants the way nature intended. To say the least, I spend quite a bit of time digging around in my neighbors cow barns and then helping ferry it around the farm with the aid of their manure spreader, not to mention that this black gold only costs me a bit of back labor (better than the $300-400 a ton P. N. P. and lime stuff and is safer for the environment and consumer). But sometimes that's just not enough, so we supplement some things with well composted, high nitrogen Chicken Manure which is great for leafy crops like lettuce, cabbage, greens, and ex specially corn. But sometime about a year ago, I thought, "It's time to produce my own high quality farm poo" and thus my journey began.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
“Eco-Logical” Produce, Plants, Bait and More!
“Healthy Eco-Systems And Soil Make Healthy Plants and Healthy People, It’s Only Logical.”
Here are a few facts about the products we offer here at Bishop’s Homegrown and a few things to keep in mind elsewhere.
- Up to 50% of our fertilizer is created here on the farm through the use of Vermicomposting systems (worm composting), leaf molds and cover crops, these systems help us re-use and recycle produce and other natural products that would otherwise go to waste in an ordinary farming system, the remaining 50% of fertilizer comes from local cow manure which is steroid free and an occasional bit of composted chicken manure.
- We use “Bio-Logical” methods of pest and disease control first and foremost including beneficial insects, crop rotations, manual labor, and organic plant sprays and foliar feedings.
- 80% of our produce is exclusive to our farm in this region. We have our own plant breeding program concerned highly with beauty, taste, and nutrition that you will not find elsewhere, often with pigmentations higher in free amino acids than other produce vendors can provide we also provide documentation of our experiments and farm practices in our annually published research Journal each and every year.
- We also provide you with your favorite standby, old time, heirloom produce that you remember eating growing up as well as searching the world over for new varieties to bring to your Southern Indiana table.
- Our food miles: We are convinently located in Pekin Indiana and commonly distribute our produce to our customers within a 30-50 mile radius which provides for the freshest, petrol efficient produce possible.
- We absolutely never spray synthetic chemical pesticides or herbicides, instead relying on time tested traditional practices, natural selection, and beneficial insects to do the work for us
5604 S. State Rd. 60
Pekin, IN 47165
A new Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) opportunity for those concerned about the health and quality of in season local produce!
Bishop’s Homegrown is proud to announce a new opportunity for those folks interested in healthy, naturally grown and ecologically sound produce that is local and in season. In 2008 we will be taking subscriptions to our new CSA program which can provide a family of three with a great selection of in season, fresh from the farm, and naturally grown produce of the highest quality!
First a quick explanation of what a CSA is:
A relationship of mutual support and commitment between local farmers and community members who pay the farmer an annual membership fee to cover the production costs of the farm. In turn, members receive a weekly share of the harvest during the local growing season.
Our CSA design:
Bishop’s Homegrown, located in Washington County Indiana, will offer our CSA program from May 1 2008 - October 2008 (22 weeks, dependent of first frost date). Each week our CSA customers will receive the equivalent of a half bushel of mixed produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, eggplant, cabbage, greens, ext. for a fraction of the price that would normally be payed for produce. Each item that is the subscriber’s box will be produced as naturally as possible and will be in season for that time of year, with enough of each item to feed at least a family of three. CSA members will find they can conveniently pick up their boxes each week at either our farm here in Pekin Indiana or at The Washington County Farmers Market at the fairgrounds in Salem Indiana. Members are also welcome at any time to make suggestions on varieties of produce that they would like to see grown and are welcome to visit our farm at any time during the growing season and we love to have visitors, members interested in our farm practices are also welcome to come by and share in the work we do here on the farm at any time during the season. This gives you the opportunity to really see and experience how the food that you buy is grown, the land is cared for, and in turn how much fresher and eco-logically sound the food your are buying is, this is also an excellent opportunity to support a growing family farm which strives to provide the best possible, healthy, chemical free (we don‘t use any sprays or chemicals at all) naturally grown produce to our local community.
As a member you will be notified by e-mail of what is available for your CSA box from week to week and will also have access to exclusive varieties not available at our farm stands!
As with any farm we are sometimes subject to certain crop failures so there are times when we may be short on a particular crop, just the same as if you were to grow a garden during a drought or flood period, so some items may not always be available as is the way of nature. However your contribution to our CSA helps take some of the financial burden and worry of our shoulders and allows us to focus on quality, sustainable produce production in a time when the norm at the local stores is high priced, low quality mass produced and nutritionally deficient produce.
Supposing an average family of three spends $20.00 a week on produce at a farmers market or local grocery your bill for 22 weeks would be $440.00, so you can see below how we have cut the costs to you for higher quality, locally grown, and chemically free produce.
As such our pricing is designed as follows:
A share is about a half bushel a week for 22 weeks. (May - Oct.) Of various mixed produce and herbs in season, naturally grown (chemical free) and locally raised. Cut flowers are also available throughout the summer for inclusion in your box upon request.
One Share- 250.00 or about 11.50 a week
Half shares are also available as half of a full share a week or a whole share every two weeks for 125.00
If you are interested in our new CSA program please feel free to contact us:
If you would like to know more about our farm, feel free to check us out at the following locations:
Our gardening/market farming message board:
Or our farm blog where you can keep up to date on what‘s growing on at the farm and find our latest links to photos, news, and our latest research papers:
Bishops Homegrown produces a wide variety of produce in all colors shapes and sizes as well as flowers and herbs, if you are interested in something in particular or would like to make a suggestion regarding a variety or type you would like us to grow then please feel free to send you suggestions to us and we would love to accomidate. We currently maintain a living seed bank on the farm that houses close to 4, 500 accessions of rare heirloom, open pollinated, or de-hybridized fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and more and are always looking to add to our gene pool for our customers satisfaction. Feel free to e-mail us with any suggestions or comments that you may have.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
As always plant breeding and research papers are at the top of the agenda, we are already making our list of crosses and segregates for next year and we've got some really exciting things on the way, not the least of which is possibly the most genetically diverse sweet corn ever bred, so far we have bred 24 specific inbred heirloom/Open Pollinated and modern SE Hybrids into our Astronomy Domine breeding material and we will have more than enough to market next year....so say goodbye to bi-color, boring sweet corn and hello to multi-color, large eared, old timey Astronomy Domine!
Our plant breeding endeavours turned out rather nicely this year and we have distributed a number of seeds all over the world on our message board at http://alanbishop.proboards60.com/ as well as through http://www.tomatoland.net/ and with he help of http://www.wintersown.org/ a trend which we hope to watch grow over the next few years as home gardeners and market farmers become more open minded and become more interested in doing natural selection from our F1-F4 genetic material.
Currently we have some very nice tomatoes coming on in our greenhouse and not the rubbery, hydroponic supermarket kind, our tomato have been getting a lot of good reviews locally and we are proud to say that the new lost river market and deli in Paoli Indiana http://www.lostrivercoop.com/ as well as our local grocer's are now carrying our premium "Eco-Logically" grown produce! We also have a great selection of leaf lettuce, turnips, raddishes, kale, mustard, and mesclun available which we have been selling on farm and at the co-op as well. Be sure to check out the co-op if you live locally, they have a really nice selection of local and naturally grow/Eco-logically grown produce, meats, dairy and hygiene products.
Keep your eye peeled the next few weeks for our new 2007 research papers and new updates on the farm!
Check out the article in the Salem Leader about the new co-op (provided you live locally).
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Mer De Nomshttp://vegvariety.cce.cornell.edu/mainSearch/detail.php?ID=5919
Both can be requested at:
Or just e-mail me and we can work out a trade or something.
First and foremost, my Name is Alan Reed Bishop and I guess you could say I am a "Truck/Market" farmer by career along with a seeds man, a plants man and a worm rancher, occasionally I like to dabble in plant breeding though too. I'm 23 years old and I live in Southern Indiana, about 30 Miles north of Louisville KY in a small town called Pekin. I've been farming off and on all of my life, starting back with my grandparents and my parents raising white Burley tobacco, some of my fondest memories are from those days, for a while I strayed into the world of music but found my muse calling back to me in the form of the soil and the food-plants which sustain us all so I started a new business called Bishop's Homegrown!
Bishop's Homegrown has been operating now for 3 years, we provide high quality, rare heirloom and exclusively bred seedlings to the community at large every year from our greenhouses and we raise close to 24 acres of produce. I've made it my life's goal to educate and inform market patrons of what truly healthy and nutritious vegetables are and if they are further interested I make it my job to inform them on how to grown a self-sustainable crop of such vegetables.
Many of my offerings at market and here at the farm stand are rare and hard to find and as of recently, due to my new breeding program, some can't be found anywhere else! Many of these offerings contain a greater degree of nutrition than those of "conventional" vegetables. There is very little that I ever do that isn't based on organic methods and nothing that I do that isn't based on completely Natural observation of the world in which my plants live, breed, and re-produce.
If you come to visit one of our farm stands on an average day you will see every color of the rainbow in every type of produce you can think of and that's because we go out of our way to find the rarest and most nutritional foods we can find, just remember sometimes color is more than just novelty, sometimes it's an expression of a particular amino acid or enzyme which can provide you with added nutrition you may not find in conventional types of produce.
Recently I implemented a plant breeding program based on the growing conditions and "organic" culture needs of Southern Indiana, we call the program Hip-Gnosis seed development we also collect and propagate valuable germplasm from time tested local, regional, and heirlooms from all over the world and offer them to gardeners as the Blue River Seed Improvement Project (named after the river which flows through our hometown).
This Page will occasionally be updated with news regarding what is going on at the farm, when you can visit, what we will have available at the farm and at market and for those friends of mine who are interested in The Blue River Seed Improvement Project at the Hip-Gnosis seed development we will be releasing links to our new 2007 Research Journals which are our notes on seed development, plant research, "organic" though not certified research and more, please bear with us as we learn, we don't claim to always be 100% right and we definitely didn't go to college to learn this stuff, just good old passed down knowledge and new development.
Until next time, feel free to check out our pictures at:
There are pics up from early spring 2007 in the fields.
Our "Worm House" where we raise composting/fishing bait red worms.
And our current Fall/Winter greenhouse tomato crops.
Also be sure to check out our Gardening/Farming/Homesteading forums at:
A great, homegrown site with lots of good folks, you can also access the Blue River Seed Improvement Project/Hip-Gnosis Seed Development Research Seed bank Where you can find all of our newest seed introductions.
And if you have any questions you can reach us at:
Or check out our myspace:
Stay tuned, the Research Journal will be coming soon!
Alan Reed Bishop!