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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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Kiva Turkey: Priori Proof of my intent to create a new (old) domesticate turkey

Here! Is a fantastic article on the domestication of turkeys! One which really got me thinking about a very distinct breeding possibility/opporotunity, one which like many other of my projects, will likely take a lifetime of work but which is one (of many) projects I feel not only should I explore but in some spiritual sense I have to explore!

According to the fantastic paper published at the site above (which has cleared up many misconceptions we have about our modern domestic turkeys) turkeys were domesticated twice, seperately from one another!

Once in South Central Mexico from the genetics of the South Mexican Wild Turkey (M.G. Gallapavo) by the Aztec and once in the arid Sothwest by the basket maker II class of Natives (Anasazi). No proof of interbreeding was found in the research, so despite the trade northward of beans, maize, and sqash as well as cultural information (including probably turkey raising tips) it appears thusfar that there was no breeding of the two distinct domestic type turkeys (I however would bet there was and the evidence just hasn't been found).

We have discussed this scenario once before when speaking about the domestication of sweet corn genetics and it's multiple centers of domestication which are unrelated.

Though they didn't test any of the heritage breed type turkeys for genetic similarities they did test modern Nicholas Whites and found the lineage to trace back to those South Mexican populations. Despite a millenium of domestication of a unique species in the south west US it has become apparent that the Anasazi type domestics (which were a completely different bird all together) are extinct.

Some other interesting facts are mentioned in the article as well, such as the small to non existent relationship between the Merriams turkey that ranges within the territory of the basket weaver II nations and their domesticated turkeys. It seems obvious they would have used those birds which were located conviniently for domestication purposes......but they didn't, instead their domestic birds shared much more in common with Eastern Wilds (which range here in Indiana) and Rio Grandes which range just east of the four corners area.

So my question is, did they go out of their way to trade for these species and breed them together? Did they choose them for their coloration (considering their early use of turkeys was ceremonial)? Or at some point in time, somewhere east of the four corners area was there a tribe which had previously bred these two distinct sub-species together having domesticated them and did they trade them off wherein the Anasazi may have tried adding in the genetics of Merriams? Or were these birds domesticated from another, as yet unknown, species of wild turkeys which arose in the areas where Rio-Grande and Eastern territories overlap?

No matter though, because despite the extinction of these apparent domesticate Anasazi turekys I have available to me poults of Eastern Wilds, Rio Grandes, and Merriams (all legally obtained by the way!) along with my heritage pure breeds and various crosses, and some things occured to me.

1. Eastern Wilds are the second largest sized sub-species (and the most widespread and common of the sub-species ranging the entirety of the Eastern Seaboard into the midwes and the south), their blood is present in modern domestics such as the bronze and the naragansette and it is well known that Half-Wild crosses provide excellent hybrid vigor. That said it is well known in this area just how "lean" these turkeys really are (probably both genetically related and diet related) often times with only their breast meat being worthy of consumption.
2. If there is hybrid vigor that occurs between easterns and domestics then I'm sure the same is true of Rio's and Merriams, but what about vigor between wild subspecies?
3. According to my reading of another recently published article the Anasazi (and later puebloean tribes) relied soley on their domesticated turkeys for a 1,000 years and some have done tests which have proven the size of these domestic toms to be similar to that of the Bourban Red Domestics with Toms approaching 30 lbs.
4. Is it possible to retain lean meat qualities (while still feeding corn and free range) in these new hybrids but to increase the amount of meat on the body with the ideal being the creation of a new domestic which is not so much bred for deep fat frying or oven roasting but instead slaughter at a bit of a younger age and instead selected for cooking over an open fire in the summer creating an alternative market for turkey meat in the summer/fall months?

That said the turkeys are ordered, a new coop and run is built and plans are underway to begin making crosses next season.

The above are only a few of the more "grounded" reasons I wanted to approach this project. Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows of my admiration for the Anasazi peoples and their reverance of corn and turkeys as well as their beautiful culture, spiritual practices, agriculture in general, and their building skills. I have been looking for a good excuse since I started raising turkeys to begin raising some Rio Grandes, as much as a reminder of what has come before as it is a reminder of what is yet to come. If I find success I have already chosen a name for the breeds "Kiva"

List of Available Produce and Products (expected) for 2010 (this isn't the whole thing, just from the top of my head)!

Mortgage Lifter
Absinthe Green when ripe
OSU Blue (new line from Oregon State, purple coloration, high anthocyanin)
Jack White (white tomato)
Centiflor Cherry tomatoes (yellow, orange, red)
Saladette Mix (red, black, yellow, orange, striped)
Black Krim
Golden Jubilee
Cherokee Purple
Paste Tomato Mix (multiple colors)
Heart Tomato Mix (multiple colors and sizes)

Bell Pepper Mix (20 kinds, all colors)
Sweet Frying peppers (these are the long Marconi type peppers which are popular in Italian food roughly 10-15 varieties)
Hot pepper mix (about 20 kinds)

Eggplants (a mix of 20 types)

Yellow fleshed (3 varieties)
Red Fleshed (3 varieties)
Orange Fleshed (2 varieties)
White Fleshed (five varieties)

Green Fleshed Muskmelon mix

Sweet Corn:
Astronomy Domine (multi colored Sweet Corn, purple, blue, yellow, orange, red, white, striped)

Flour/Parch corn (great for grits, polenta, meal, and flour)
Painted Mountain (multi-colored flour)
Amanda Palmer (multi-colored dent)

Pickling types
Long slicers
White cucumbers

Blue Lake
Purple podded

Summer squash:
zucchini mix (round and long, multiple colors)
Yellow Crookneck
Yellow, White, Green Scalops

Winter Squash:
Long Island Cheese
Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue Hubbards
Acorn and Mini Pumpkin mixes in all colors

Romaine, Cos, Butterhead, and Leaf lettuces, multiple colors
Swiss Chard
Raddish Mix
Turnip Mix

Colored (green and brown) cotton

Red Norland Potatoes
Yukon Gold Potatoes

White and Red fruited Alpine Strawberries

Nursery Stock:

Rare, one off, grafted apple trees, stuff you will not find elsewhere.
Kazakistan Apple and Pear Seedlings
Cider Apple Seedlings
Persimmon Seedlings
Cherry Seedlings
English Walnut, Heartnut, American Chineese and hybrid Chestnuts
Shellbark Hickory Seedlings, Paw Paw Seedlings
Bartlet Pear and Wild Pear Seedlings
Alpine Strawberry Plants

Heritage turkeys: Blue Slate, Black Spanish, Bourban Red, Naragansette, White Midget, Royal Palm and various crosses
Guineas (royal purple, Pied, Pearl, crosses)


Composting/Fishing Worms.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hey, it's spring and we've got stuff for sale!!!!!!!!

The weather is certainly warming up! This week we've got bench grafted apple trees for sale $10.00 each. 50 unique varieties you won't find at any local nursery, many from Kazakistan the homeland of apples with disease resistance to fire blight! Fantastic antique apples too!

We also have a few cole crop seedlings for sale (cabbage, broccoli, kale, mustard, spinach), 6 for 2.00. Also, we have a ton of Kazakistani apples from seed! These should make fantastic cider or possibly even cullinary apples as they came from known parents. 4 Inch pots for $3.00 each! You will not find this stuff elsewhere. If your going to be wanting turkey poults, guinea keets, or... See More rabbits get your name on the list now! Also there is still time to join the CSA! Would you rather buy from someone you know and a farm you can visit or would you rather continue to rely on the big box stores to supply your produce? Which do you feel safest with?

For every 100 dollars invested you get a 10% discount. This means you actually get $100 dollars of produce, plants, and more for 90!!!! $200 for 180!!! Does wal mart do that? I didn't think so!
about a minute ago ·

For a limited time we are also offering composting and fishing worms! These are great for reducing organic matter/household waste to rich beautiful compost, the main soil amendment we use here at Bishop's Homegrown! Great for fishing too! Why would you ever go buy woms every time you go fishing when you can raise your own for the cost of some table scraps! For 20.00 we will fill up a four gallon bucket with worms, bedding, and worm caccons (eggs), enough to start a small worm farm, these little guys breed quick and with the right care the population with double in just a couple of months!

Feel free to come tour the farm or give us a call 812-967-2073. E-mail is also an option at:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Goodby Val Mcmurray

Today Homegrown Goodness has been covered by a wave of sadness with the passing of the wonderful Val Mcmurray. Val was a consumate seed saver and a source of inspiration and continued encouragement for me and my breeding experiments. Val was a wonderful woman who took great strides in preserving diversity by way of her and her husband Dan's wonderful Canadian seed bank. We will miss Val. but we know that she will always walk with us in our gardens and our hearts, sharing secrets with us about the plants that we wouldn't otherwise know. This past year Val. was sweet enough to share with me a ton of fruit pits and seeds despite having to battle US customs to get them here. Among them were several hundred cherry pits of many different types. Out of those many types I hope to select one which I will name in her memory, I'm thinking a tart cherry would fit her wonderful attitude. We love you val and goodbye for now my friend.

In memory of her, I found this fitting:

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

The First of many fantastic spring days to come this season!

Lots and lots of work here on the farm today.

Started a ton of segregating tomato and pepper seedlings as well as some reliable standards. We aren't doing a ton of seedlings this year so if you need plants be sure to get ahold of me and let me know what you will be wanting. In coming years we will be doing custom order seedling production only so that we have less wasted space and wasted plants (as well as seed!). If you've got anything you want grown now is the time to contact me. As a rule we sell all plants bare root, 8 for 2.00

There is lettuce germinating in the raised bed at the back of the large greenhouse along with mesclun mix as well as about 40 spinach plants and 40 early tomato plants.

(bare in mind that the items listed below as "for sale" are in reference to local buyers only as we do not yet ship, sorry guys, soon though!)

The nursery stock experimental seedlings are germinating. In a couple months we plan on having these experminal seedlings available for sale including: English Walnut, Sand Plums, Green Gauge Plums, Black Plums, Blood Plums, Yellow Plums, White Walnut, Shagbark Hickory, Shellbark Hickory, Heart nuts, American and Chinese Chestnuts, Black Walnut, Mixed Cherry Seedlings, Pears, Quince and Apples, plums, paw-paws, Muscadine Grapes, peaches, apricots, pecans and more. The first year they will be smaller type seedlings and should probably be left in pots for at least a year to size up but that is where your purchasing power comes in handy as I have very little invested in their production and if you are willing to experiment then they can be bought very cheaply. The general rule is the longer I have to keep something/overwinter it/water it/feed it, the higher the price.
We will once again this year be producing a limited number of plants of our white fruited alpine strawberry plants in one gallon pots as well. You've never lived life or tasted a strawberry until you have tried one of these.

Right now we even have a ton of Hip-Gnosis cider apple seedlings as well as Pear and quince seedlings available in four inch pots for $4.00. While it is true that generally as a rule apples don't come true from seed the seed which produced these lovely and healthy little seedlings (Eco-logically grown in recycled plastic pots as well as our own "living" La Bonne Terre soil) came from orchards of known heritage with little to no crab apple influence which means that finding a good eating apple is not only possible but probable, if nothing else they should almost all be fantastic for cider, cooking, or applesauce and definitely for apple butter or as a wildlife feeder. You won't find a better price on trees, whether aesthetically or culinary speaking.

Tomorrow I will be grafting close to 75 apple trees to known varieties, these will be available throughout the season but if you want a simple bench graft (grafted but not healed completely) in the next month you will be able to buy them a bit cheaper. These will all be fantastic culinary apples, both fresh eating and cooking and there should be something for everyone! Recently another friend of mine had the pleasure of of going to Kazakhstan and sent me a scant few more Kaza apple scion wood pieces from trees with fantastic tasting and aesthetically appealing wild apples. Bench Grafts for the first month after grafting are available in one gallon pots for $10.00 If you wait until they are healed they will be $15.00. These are varieties you WILL NOT FIND anywhere else in Indiana.

Today we sold 7 of the 12 weaned baby rabbits, we've got five cute little ones left, mostly white or gray/black on white splotches, if you or someone you know is wanting one of these cute little guys for that special someone for Easter or as a pet or Meat animal, now is the time to buy them. Only $6.00 a piece! You won't find a price like that at a pet store I promise you. In a couple of weeks we will have 8 more, this time pure Harlequin bunnies for sale. These are my favorites! Of course as always I have gone overboard and have three more bred as we speak!

We should at some point in the near future have turkey poults and guinea Keats available for sale. If you are interested be sure and drop us a line about it at or give me a call at 812-967-2073. We already have three reservations for guineas and I am investing in another incubator which will give us a capacity of close to 75 guinea eggs and 50 turkey eggs at a time so get your order in soon as I can mix and match guinea eggs and turkey eggs in the incubator since they share the same incubation period and requirements.

My super cool fiance and her uber awesome sister (whom I refer too as a sister 'n law anyhow) were awesome enough to go down and paint our boring old Bishop's Homegrown sign with some new text and graphics and it looks amazing and stands out now, I can't thank them enough and I'll get some pics up soon.

Oh, and hey, local guys and gals, don't forget about the super awesome and amazing Farm stand Credit CSA we are offering this year, I have extended the sign up date until the end of April! Don't miss out as this is a fantastic deal!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CSA application period extended to end of April!

A new local/regional CSA program alternative. Providing more convenience and better value to our community.

Bishop’s Homegrown is a small “Eco-Logical” and self sustainable farm in the town of Pekin Indiana. We are family owned and a fourth generation farm focused on providing quality produce from yesteryear as well as the new food and flower crops of the future to our valued friends and community members. We use the strictest possible organic guidelines for on farm food production and make no exceptions. We feel that it is of utmost importance that locavores, members of the slow food movement, and community members, know who and from where their food comes from and how it is grown. We produce 90% of our own seed crops as well as 100% of our own organic fertilizer and we never ever opt for chemical options to control pests or disease issues on farm, feeling that growing food “eco-logically” is the only alternative to our failing food system in the United States. We have searched the world over to bring you the most unique, exciting, and rare food crops from diverse cultures the world over with an emphasis on nutrition and taste! Our doors are always open to our community and customers who we encourage to visit the farm in order to see and know where and how their food was grown. Food security begins when a relationship is formed between the community and its farmers, this essential connection is what allowed civilization to flourish 10,000 years ago. This year we would like to introduce you to our newest program which we feel you will find immense value in!
The Farm Stand Credit Program:
The concept of Community Supported Agriculture (AKA. CSA) is generally defined as a mutually beneficial arrangement between a farmer and his customer wherein the customer agrees to share in the risks and rewards of local farming for the benefit of their food production and the farmers well being. The CSA consumers become by proxy shareholders in the farm and it’s well being by paying an upfront “membership“ due which covers the production of food in a “share“ system. Generally a traditional CSA allows for the consumer to pay for up front costs of the farmers start up cost with the farmer reciprocating by preparing a pre-determined amount of produce every week through the growing season which the shareholders pick up once a week. The farmer generally picks the produce that the customer will receive.
This year Bishop’s Homegrown is looking to create a viable alternative to the traditional CSA program by creating a farm stand coupon program which will allow customers to still share in helping us get our business going during the part of the season in which seed and implements and other essentials are being purchased while also making the relationship more convenient for the farmer and the shareholders.
In this arrangement, instead of the farmer putting together a box of produce weekly he has selected for you you will instead receive “credit” from our farm which will allow you to visit our farm stand or farm where you can make your selection of produce that we have available including also a selection of seedlings, nursery stock, seeds, compost, poultry and other items from our farm. This gives you the opportunity to decide what you want instead of us deciding what you want. Every $100 you invest will also get you a 10% discount which means that you will actually get 10% more produce for your food dollars.
Our produce will be available to you via the Washington County Indiana farmers market held at the fairgrounds in Salem Indiana on Saturday Mornings from 8 AM to 12 PM. Occasionally we also will be available at the Wednesday market operating during the same hours. Credit is also redeemable at our roadside stand in the town of Peking or on farm. It is important to note that we don’t usually deal in custom ordered bulk produce on a normal basis (i.e., a bushel beans, or a bushel of corn) but that when these items are available at market, as they often are, your credit can be used to purchase them as well.
How much does it cost?
The investment levels start at 50.00. An investment at the 100 dollar or above level will earn you a 10% discount which means that an investment at the $100 level only costs you $90! That’s right; $100 dollars of credit only costs $90! That’s essentially the same as getting $10 of produce free just for paying ahead of time! Your credit is good for two years which means that whatever isn’t spent this season can be carried over to next season!
The maximum investment is $500.
Here is the layout:
$50 credit for $50
$100 credit for $90
$200 credit for $180
$300 credit for $270
$400 credit for $360
$500 credit for $450
How will we keep track of your credit?
Good old fashioned pen and pencil, anytime you make a purchase we will deduct that price from our ledger. You will receive a receipt after each transaction so you too can keep track of the amount of produce purchased.
What if I make it to market late and you are out of what I want?
Unfortunately this may happen from time to time which is why we are keeping the investment level low to start with. Sometimes we just flat out run out of an item due to popularity. The best bet is to show up to market early, the best of the best goes quickly! There are occasions when we may not be able to make it to market from time to time due to emergencies or just the need to take a break here and there but we will inform you a few days ahead of time via e-mail (unless it’s a last minute emergency) that we will not be at market in the coming week.
What can I purchase with Bishop’s homegrown credit? Does this offer only include produce?
No, any item we bring to market is eligible for purchase via this credit, including seeds, plants, seedlings, poultry (chicks), occasionally rabbits, compost, fishing worms, handcrafts or any other product we have at market or our farm stand. We also occasionally have winter produce available and this Thanksgiving and Christmas we will for the first time be offering butchered heritage turkeys.
When is payment due and how do I pay, when does credit take effect?
Payment is due by the end of March in order that we know what we have in the bank and can plan accordingly. Payment can be made by check, money order, or well concealed cash. Credit takes effect the first Saturday of May, in conjunction with the opening of the farmers market.
Make checks or money orders payable to:
Alan Bishop
And send to:
Alan Bishop
5604 S. State Rd. 60
Pekin IN 47165
Also include a note with your full name, address, e-mail address, phone number and a list of people who you will allow to purchase items with your credit if you need to send someone to the farm stand in your place!

How can I learn more about Bishop’s Homegrown and follow the on farm developments?
We invite you to come and take a tour of our small farm at any time you would like to learn more about us or at any point during the growing season, before, after, or even if you don’t join the credit opportunity. We also maintain a blog at where we often write research articles, report about our plant breeding and poultry breeding projects, explain our on farm techniques and more. As well we run a small message board for experimental gardeners and plant breeders located at as well as our local harvest site located at
We should also point out that farm tours are available to those interested at any time in the growing season…
Please feel free to pass this around to others who might be interested in joining this unique opportunity.
Feel free to contact us at:
Alan Bishop

Baby Rabbits for sale!

The rabbits in the pictures below will be weaned by the begining of next week, just in time for Easter, most are a combination of white with gray splotches and some are pure white. Will make the perfect Easter gift for that special someone. $6 each. Give us a call: 812-967-2073

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rabbits for sale!

Easter is coming up soon and as such we have prepared ourself by breeding our first round of baby rabbits ever.

Should make wonderful pets, breeding stock, or meat animals.

If you live locally and are interested we are asking $6.00 a piece for the young ones, they would make a fantastic Easter gift for children or grand children!

Heres some pics for ya!