Bishop’s Farm produce able to keep things local
PRINCETON — One thing is certain. People want fresh, quality produce, and that factor as well as prime real estate are important.
Bishop’s Farm Fresh Produce has both, located on Route 40 in Elmer, also nearby Route 77.
“The location is great for customers that are heading down the shore that want to take good, fresh local produce down to the shore,” Kevin Bishop of Bishop’s Farm Fresh Produce said. “And most of our business comes from people returning from the shore — they want to take good produce back. I would say that 90 percent of our business are people from the states of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. We are also close to Route 55, and most take that route to go to the shore.”
Bishop’s grandfather started the family farm. “He owned a custom combining business,” Bishop said. “He did that, and he farmed, and my dad took that over. He also custom combined and farmed all the way until 1999. We had a farm sale, and he cut back doing the combining, and he continued to farm the ground that we owned. That is when our feed store came into play. He built that in 1992. That’s when he started Bishop Farms & Feeds.”
The latter is located on Pine Tavern Road, also in Elmer.
The Bishops farm 300 acres; 150 they own, the other half rented. Their best-selling produce are corn, tomatoes, and peaches. The feed store is open year-round, but the produce stand is open from the end of June until Labor Day.
Kevin Bishop runs the produce stand, and his dad, Ward, manages the feed store. They both also are partners in a Simmental cattle operation, which began in 1995 when the Bishops purchased a show heifer. It grew from there.
“We utilize AI and embryo transfer from the best genetics we can find and market our cattle,” Bishop said. “Our goal is to produce sound, eye-appealing cattle that have performance and longevity. We have a herd of 50 mature cows that we calve at the end of December and January. We grow soybeans and corn, and the corn we keep. All our corn goes right back into our cattle feed.”
Another popular item is alfalfa hay, which also feeds their cattle operation, and other cattle and horse farm operations in the area.
The biggest challenge for Bishop’s Farm Fresh Produce and Bishop Farms & Feed is staying ahead of current rising operating costs. Bishop said. “In our operation, we try not to be too big. It is just basically me and my dad, and my sister Kellie helps in the summer when she can. My wife, Jessica, has a full-time job; she helps us out when she can, too. We basically just try to do the best job that we can with the limited number of acres. We just try to just keep things basic and just do what we can and not get too complicated.” Bishop’s mom, Pamela, also pitches in occasionally.
Perhaps the key thing when you buy produce and feed from the Bishops is that it’s neighborhood-only goods. “With our produce, we only grow a small amount because we’re so busy with the feed store, the farming enterprise, and the cattle,” Bishop said. He and his farm stand sell a lot of local produce, either grown by them or other local farmers. “It’s grown within 30 minutes from here. That is what people really want; they really appreciate that local produce. People are very satisfied with that.”