Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"The Real" A lowdown upon my whereabouts in the summer of the year of our lord, 2012.

Anyone who knows me well knows I like to be cryptic and sometimes morose, allow me to be both for a moment if you will.

The internet is no longer (and hasn't been for a while) a safe place to be for those who are aware like us.

For that matter neither is the above ground economy, workplace, public, or schools but you work with what you have.

Right now extreme drought is laying a heavy weight upon an unstable US economy and more than ever those previous asleep to their plight are being awakened to a startling reality, one we have been aware of and preparing for for sometime, for those people let my phone number and e-mail provide access to the questions you need answered, perhaps ocassionally also the uber dark void that is facebook might be just as efficient a tool.

Currently I am in the midst of helping build a local food and trade shed in my community which takes up most of my time, what is left is filled with farm work and the learning of and then perfection of other survival skills and building infrastructure.  I will be back here sometime soon to share photos, seed, and ideas with all, at least so long as the framework still exists.

Until then I will mostly be in the "stix" studying Bachannalia and other forms of herasy which will hopefully insure the survival of my friends and family in the coming years.  Between all of that I'll be working to build my community into something respectable and regenerative.

I can't be sure of the return of the public seed list to those who aren't CSA members but I can assure the return of a trade list to those experimenting with plant breeding (though it's getting late in the game for that) and specifically to those in the regional area who may be able to fill spots in my seed list, this is of high importance to me, moreso than monetary gain in fact.

Please take the time to leave the internet as you have the chance and learn something of value, while doing so take a moment to look around and thank whatever god or chain of consequences you believe in for the very breath you draw.  Don't forget that no one makes it alone and most certainly no one ever gets out alive as Jim Morrison once stated.

For those who wish to speak of seed, trades, poultry, pigs, rgenerative growth, and in general preparing for shit to hit the fan please feel free to call me: 812-967-2073 or e-mail

As well allow to forever be a resource to all.  You may find me there more often.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The "White Blackberry" rabbit hole goes deeper still!

Hey guys, back after a break due to the tornado which ravaged my small town and a week of upper respiratory sickness. I'll be making frequent updates to the blog in coming weeks regarding farm work, animals, fruit stock, and distilling as time allows.

Anyhow, recently my good friend Mark Walmsey who I've been doing a bit of trading with passed some new White Blackberry information my way which completely opened up a whole new field of research for me. As he says in the e-mail; Viva Orange!

I've recently done some reading on white blackberries. Regarding 'Nettletons'/'Iceberg', let me propose another theory:
From what I have read, the 'Nettletons' white blackberry was collected in Albion, IL. This is the same location that John Orange - one of the early collector/breeders of white blackberries - lived and sold his plants. Albion is 30 miles from where one of the Nettletons lived/lives, so I would take a guess that they went down to Orange's or someones old homestead and found some crazy-old clones. Chances are that this is Orange's 'Orange's Crystal' aka 'Crystal White', 'Colonel Wilder' or a seedling of one of them. I know Burbank's photo of 'Crystal White' shows it to be a muddy color, but I really question his photos and chain of events regarding his work with white blackberries. Burbank states "that the berry with the aid of which I developed the new fruit was called a white blackberry. It was a berry found growing wild in New Jersey, and introduced as a garden novelty, with no pretense to value as a table fruit, by Mr. T. J. Lovett. He called the berry "Crystal White...". Is this the same as 'Orange's Crystal'? Orange's 'Crystal White' came out in the 1850's. More than likely Burbank got most of his white blackberry breeding material from the chain of plants John B. Orange collected and distributed. Burbank was twelve when Orange was advertising his "choice blackberry plants" that included white blackberries in the 1861 version of American Agriculturist. Regardless, I believe very strongly that 'Nettletons' owes it's genes to John B. Orange. Viva Orange! To me, this find is extremely rare. How could they have survived 160 years? These are John B. Orange's releases per The Small Fruits of New York: Albion [flesh color]-Rural N. Y. 11: in. i860. 2. Downing Fr. Trees Am. 443. 1869.A white sort found in the wild prior to 1860 by John B. Orange, Albion, Illinois.Although introduced as having productive plants and large fruit, Downing found the plantsunproductive, the fruit only fair in size, imperfect and without flavor. Colonel Wilder [white]-Mag. 30:360. 1864.Originated prior to 1864 by John B. Orange, Albion, Illinois. Fruit of medium size,oblong, slightly pointed, light cream color, moderately firm, does not develop well ; very good. Crystal White [white]-Elliott Fr. Book. ig6. 1859.Orange's Crystal. 2. Mag. Hort. 30:359. 1864.Raised from seed by John B. Orange, Albion, Illinois, prior to 1859. Plants vigorous,not hardy, suckering freely, very productive when grown with other sorts; prickles few,weak; fruit of medium size, oblong-oval, light creamy white, translucent, sweet; good. Dr. Warder [pink]-Mag. Hort. 30:360. 1864.Raised by John B. Orange, Albion, Illinois, prior to 1864. Fruit large, dark rosyred; good.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Even Great markets have slow days....

Even great markets have slow days.....
This past Saturday Washington County Artisans and Farmers once again set up shop at the Pierce Polk Vol. Fire Dept in Pekin Indiana for our Valentines weekend offering of local handmade goods and homegrown products. The day started off with a low temperature of 19 degrees F. and a bit of snow but the hot breakfast, good coffe, and friendship amongst vendors and customers definitely made the event worthwhile!
Given the weather we figured the crowd would be quite slow and that we may indeed have a few vendors cancel their appearance at the market and certainly that was the case but it didn't seem to dampen the mood too awful much as it provided the opporotunity to see the market at the opposite extreme of the spectrum compared to the success that we have had at our previous three events. Even with a small crowd and a shortened vendor list I believe all managed to have a good time and some commerce was completed on behalf of market vendors and the fire dept. As well we welcomed with open arms our new dual market masters Anne and Kevin Mutschler who brought along plenty of sunshine on a cold/gray day in the form of their ever optimistic daughter Bonnie.

We even had some fresh produce from our newest vendors R and D Aquaphonics!
As always there was a sense of comraderie and a feeling that we are building towards truly great things for our market and the wider community both within and outside of Washington County. Around 9:00 we were entertained by the strains of music coming from a music circle that we hope to see at market for the forseable future. The nice thing about a slow day at market as well is that the few customers who do come through take a bit more time to peruse items and get to know their vendors and for the vendors who attended this will pay off in spades in coming months as those customers will recall that even during the slow times we are there to provide our goods and services.

All in all a slow market day is just a small piece of the larger puzzle that makes up a successful market and is a growing experience which we can learn from. Sometimes weather and sickness will hinder our market days a bit but brings us closer to the realization that we are a family working to better not just our own business but the market as a whole. This my friends is the "value" in the experience.

We look forward greatly to our two upcoming winter market events in March. The first will once again be at The Pierce, Polk, Vol. Fire Dept with a benefit breakfast on St. Patricks Day (March 17'th) and looks to be a crowd pleaser with a longer vendor list and music circle while the second will be at The American Legion Bingo Hall in Salem Indiana on March 31'st (look forward to more info on special events for this market in the coming weeks).
-Alan Reed Bishop

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Great Glass Elevator

"....a reminder that I am not alone here..." Nothing better than that beautiful blue Febuary sky and daytime moon to remind us just how close to spring we are.
Worm Compost!

So, I teased you guys with my Great Glass Elevator plans the other day and thought I'd take a moment to snap a couple pics and share with you. One of the things that has always stuck out as a possible problem in my sustainability plan for the farm should shit ever get "that bad" was that my greenhouse set up's rely on a petroleum based economy to remain viable due to the plastic covering that needs to be replaced every four or so years. Sure it's nice having a greenhouse, but let's face it, if things are that bad and that plastic goes there's not a lot those frames are potentially good for unless you can find some sheet metal and self taping screws somewhere.

I've been contemplating building a glass house for some time but never had the materials until this past season when I helped a neighbor repair a fence in exchange for some really nice sliding glass storm doors which I put to use for this project. I've still got quite a few out in the supply pile that I'm holding onto in anticipation of Kim and I moving to the backside of the property and building a passive solar greenhouse on our home.

Until then though I've been in need of a bit more space and some higher humidity conditions to help in propigating/rooting small nursery stock so I set out to find a small area of ground to house my new "Elevator" The berry patch just so happened to be just about right.

All that was needed were a few cedar posts and some nails. I recently cut some cedar posts for a friend as a custom order and went ahead and droped the needed posts for this project at the same time, so technically I actually got paid to cut my own posts...... :) I love it when plans work out like that.

Anyhow, one of the other varied needs on the farm was that of a solar dehydrator, I can, in a pinch dry things on racks in the greenhouse and cure turkish tobacco on a specially made tobacco lath rack out there but air control and humidity control are a real pain even with electricity in what amounts to a glorified cold tunnel and without electricity (SHTF) how can I be expected to dry bulk amounts of food?

This project has completely solved that issue. As you can see from the photos below the new greenhouse is in no way air tight, in fact theres lots of fairly large sized cracks and crevices currently filled in with old greenhouse plastic and feed sacks as well the backside of the greenhouse has one window on the outside bottom and one on the inside top leaving a six inch gap with a 12-14 inch differential, the door is also removable on the front and the house is positioned in a north east/south west direction for air flow! This should make for a nice, naturally regulated dehydration house!

While building the house I knew that it wouldn't be heated and that I would need to make up for the lack of heat early in the year with heat sinks if possible thusly the tables you see (soon there will be a set of three shelves around the two side walls and back wall) are set atop of 50 gallon blue poly barrels filled with water (3 to be exact) this is probably actually a bit overkill in a house this small but time and experience will be the true judge.

Also included below are some pics of the nursery stock I started propigating today. Anyhow, enjoy.

Propigation materials from left to right: Blackberry rootstock, Bishop's Dewberry cuttings, Jewel Black Raspberry cuttings, Burbank "Snowbank" blackberry root cuttings.
And thusly spring 2012 begins!
The Great Glass Elevator (or variously The Cosmic Cube!)

Monday, January 30, 2012

An idea to bring something special back to pekin....

Some of you may not know but my hometown Pekin Indiana is well known for one thing; hosting the longest consecutive running 4'th of July celebration! It's something I am immensley proud of (along with much of the other local history of the area) and something that anyone else in Pekin or Washington County should be proud of. Unfortunately for the entirity of my lifetime the celebration has been on a downhill slide (minus the awesome Guiness world record breaking spoon playing of Pekin native Steve Tankersly at this past years celebration) and has moved away from anything which for the most part represents the town, the culture and least of all the history.

In the past several years short of a prince and princess and king and queen contest the celebration has failed to celebrate what makes this town unique, sinking down to having a small midway, cheap Chineese made crap trinkets, and a flea market. To me this is unacceptable. As well far too much money has been spent on far little.

Fortunately this year I decided to get involved and contribute some ideas. I don't expect all of my ideas to necessarily be well accepted and nor do I believe my ideas will change the festival in a single year, but you have to start somewhere. The biggest hurdle likely will be getting others in my age group involved in the festival (well that and the fact that the deed to the park includes a covenant against alcohol on the premises).

Ultimately, it all seems to be working out for the better as the Pekin Betterment (this is the organization, independent of the town, responsible for the festival) welcomed me in with open arms and they seem to be aware that new blood is needed and things need to change. Part of this is likely due to the deep deficit they have ran in recent years hiring in outside musical acts and over priced midway equipment.

Some of the valid points I have tried to bring to the table include:
-Why do we pay musicians and entertainment from out of town that are not related to our culture or history in any way and serve only to cheapen the event. Moreover, why do we pay at all, if this festival was where it needed to be it would be a privelage for these folks to play at the event.
-Why do we not have historical re-enactments including demonstrators as well as revolutionary and union and confederate troops on hand
-Why do we need a midway when we could instead bring the community together and make it a more memorable event for all involved by having childrens games such as sack races, cornhole, watermelon eating contests, exct as well as sports based contests with community teams.
-Why do we have a flea market that is litterally on the leading edge of the festival where it can be seen by all who pull up. It looks bad on the town and the culture.
-Why is it reffered to as "Pekin Park" when it was deeded as "Gills Grove" to the betterment/town and should be billed as such in honor of the family who donated it.

Luckily, for the most part these folks have been highly receptive to my thoughts and ideas. Part of this I believe is due to the fact that I am part of the new Washington County Artisans and Farmers project that is bringing a new market and commerce into the town and particularly the park. In fact, they have gone way out of their way to offer the new market a spot on the Saturday of the celebration for a way discounted price in order to allow the market to set up during the busiest time in the town. This is something that prior to my joining we were told was off limits and I've been told that we are given this chance so that eventually with can replace the flea market with something totally new, unique, and authentic! I am beyond excited about this

When I brought up the games, they were very interested in my ideas as well. I will follow up on that soon enough.

But most excitingly of all, when I pointed out to them how far the festival had fallen in terms of most of the town avoiding it up until last year when the local spoon player broke a world record and brought the community together again, they agreed and realize they need that "feeling" consistently from year to year and gave me permission to move forward with an idea for the mainstage for this year, so here I present it to you, my faithfull blogger and homegrown audience for review and commentary.

Before reading, here is a bit of history about a subject mentioned. The Pekin Panther is a local legend that has been bandied about for well over 100 years. Cougars are native to Indiana and were once common here although common knowledge dictates that they are all gone from the area (despite constant sightings in neighboring Illinois and recently Indiana). From time to time you will hear folks bring up this living legend as well as sightings therof. Buster Crockett was the town barber at one point, this automatically makes him the center of many past "liars circles" likely many that included Panther stories. Think of him as a modern day Floyd the Barber.

At the moment this is simply a rough concept of an event that will be held at the 2012 Pekin Indiana 4'th of July Celebration. To better cater the event to the town and community at large this page will stand as a way to solicit ideas for this contest as well as to form ...a committee who will help see this event to fruition. If you would like to serve on the committe which will entail helping work out details as well as judging and signing up participants or if you would be interested in participating please e-mail Alan Bishop at or call 812-967-2073.

The Ol' Liars Club
2012 Pekin Indiana 4'th Of July Celebration
A celebration of the long held small town tradition of stretching the truth to it's breaking point without cracking a smile!
By : Alan Reed Bishop

Every small town business establishment has one. It's not even discrete, in fact, if you walk into a locally owned resteraunt, caffee, gas station, barber shop, local tavern, or any other institution which actively fosters socialization, you are likely to wonder what all that ruckus over in the corner is about. It's the local Liars club, usually a group of older fellows sharing stories of bygone eras and conquests which may or may not be grounded in some amount of truth.

Often these clubs turn into events of their own, a reminder of our culture, a reminder of what having "character" is all about. Local legends are born this way. Pekin Panthers, 500 lb watermelons and fourty foot Tall mushrooms notwithstanding, it is through these stories that any local "everyman" can become something of a local institution. The best examples are the stories from which you can't seperate the milk from the cream or the lie from the truth, even better are those instances where one mans bending of the truth becomes a full on group effort with each of the participants taking their turn greasing the axels of what constitutes "truth".

We would like to see this local institution celebrated. Particularly in the year when Buster Crockett is being celebrated. Mr. Crockett surely participated and or overheard more than his far share of these circles in his days cutting the hair of some of the best lia...storytellers in the town.

Some may wonder why one would want to celebrate something as devious as a lie, it's quite simple really, it's entertaining and it keeps one on their toes, oftent the lie is told in front of a newcomer to see just how quick on his toes he/she truly is, this is often a sign of being invited into the community and an assurance that next time the joke won't be on you.

The idea:

Part one:

Do you have a story to tell, can you stretch the truth in a believable way? Can you do so without cracking a smile? If you can and you can do so in 15 minuites or less come and visit us at the festival. Tell the town your story and make whatever embelishments (family friendly) you can. The more mundane the story begins and the more exuberently it is skewed the better. At the end of the day we will pick ten "storytellers" to put on stage the next day. Props and audience participation will be encouraged!

Part two:
The next day we will put the ten winners on stage in a circle with Buster Crockett presiding as he would have in the days of his barber shop. The ten contestants will be encouraged to begin a dialoge, based on the local legend of the Pekin Panther, from there they will collaboratively craft a story for the audience based on local townsfolk and should be encouraged to use the names of townsfolk as they craft the story. Our special invited guest on stage at this time will be Steve Tankersly, in honor of his gift to our town via his world record breaking spoon playing at last years celebration.

The Rest:

We will actively seek the help of Traditional Arts Indiana or any other interested parties in recording the event for posterity.


I'm still not sure how to handle this part, perhaps a "key that opens any door in the town" would be a nice sybolic prize as it could be used in future contests as part of a story. I could possibly also work with Washington County Artisans and Farmers on a gift certificate.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New tobacco lath display racks available.

Soap Drying Dish of Tobacco Lath. 4.50 each.

Soap Racks 25.00 each

Chapstick Rack 40.00 Each

We've been making a lot of new tobacco lath items lately, mostly in the form of various display racks including seed racks, soap racks, and chapstick display racks. I thought I would include a few photos here. If your interested in purchasing some let us know.

As well, we also have some new Face Of The Earth 9 Variety seed racks (five packs each) avalable for sale for 150.00. Seed rack included (you can see one of these on the very end of the market table below)

Above you can see our table from our recent farmers market event. Upfront is the four rail chapstick rack. It's made completely of tobacco lath and has a full back. There is also an area that's empty in the front for displaying either salves/creams/soap exct. These are 40.00 each. Directly behind this and to each side are our soap racks, these are 15 inches by 15 inches and fold down flat, they also have legs bolted on with wingnuts to tighten down. 25.00 each.

Another picture of the previously mentioned. ON the far end of the table you can (barely) see the seed rack. The seed rack is 10 x 10 inches with 9 seed compartments. 100% made of tobacco lath and all seeds are Face Of The Earth produced and grown. Seed includes: Paradigm Red Tomato Landrace, Prometheus Yellow Tomato Landrace, Phoenix Pink Tomato Landrace, Landrace Cucumber, Landrace Moschata Squash, El Diablo Tobacco, Aunt Nellies Mushroom Bean, Rattlesnake Bean, Astronomy Domine Sweet Corn, GNR Okra Grex.

We can and do also make other custom display Racks, just let us know what you want and we will quote you a price. E-mail: or call 812-967-2073

Your Friendly Neighborhood Artisans and Farmers Market.......

A couple pictures of the Bishop's Homegrown/Uncle Penn's/Face Of The Earth Seed Co stand prior to opening of the market!

This past Saturday our new Washington County and Artisans Market had the privelage of hosting our third ever winter market (with the much appreciated assistance of The Salem Indiana American Legion) in Salem Indiana at the American Legion Bingo Hall in Salem Indiana. This was a big, actually huge, step for our organization as it was the largest event we have yet put together as well as our first independent event and the first yet in neighboring Salem Indiana.

We had about 21 vendors turn out for the event which was held in what had previously been a town grocery store. Everyone was in good spirits and there was a general feeling of excitement in the air as what is slowly becoming a community event unfolded in front of everyone . The melding of music with the exchange of money for locally produced and grown goods and the smell and taste of soup and sandwhiches (provided as a benefit to the market by board members) created a wonderful atmosphere which really brought forth what a market is all about.

Despite the event being held in late January there was some produce at this market as our new vendors R and D Aquaphonics were kind enough to bring along some hydrophonically grown greens and Joanne Jackson reminded us spring was around the corner with her beuatiful and flowering perrinial plants. .

If this is anything representative of what this new market is capable of I would say Washington County is in for a big treat this coming summer at our main market location at the Pekin Park in Pekin Indiana (also known as Gill's Grove). Big things are on the horizon and I for one am beyond proud to have been a part of it both as a board member and as a vendor!