KCFB honors Johnson, Bishops
FELTON, Del. — Dr. Gordon Johnson and the Dale Bishop family of Sandtown took top honors at the Kent County Farm Bureau’s annual banquet Sept. 26.
Johnson, University of Delaware assistant professor and Extension specialist in fruits and vegetables, was honored with the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.
KCFB Vice President Dave Marvel, who has worked closely with Johnson as a grower and in his role as president of the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware, presented the award.
“Dr. Gordon Johnson has devoted over two decades helping the agriculture industry here in Delaware. Gordon has written dozens of publications on research, trends and opportunities … in order to keep us competitive and profitable. Gordon has always been the go-to person when looking at new ideas to diversify an operation or to improve on what we are already doing.
His ability to keep an open mind and see emerging opportunities has helped farmers from small to large, and this is why our industry is alive and well today.
“Gordon started off as the Kent County (Extension) agent, but his work has carried him all over Delaware and beyond, sharing his personal knowledge and what he has learned from others along the way. He has touched the lives of many people in every facet of farming and improved not only our lives, but our livelihoods as well.
“You can look at his resume and see all the work he has done over his career serving us, but that’s only half the story. He is a great researcher, critical thinker and problem solver, but we can also call him our friend. He … has been a mentor and motivator for many people in our state, especially me. Surely, we have been blessed having him share his knowledge with us.”
Presenting a resolution from the Levy Court, Commissioner Terry Pepper noted Johnson had received the FVGAD Distinguished Service Award in 2016 and the 2019 Northeast Region Excellence in Extension Award. Johnson is “always doing cutting edge things,” Pepper said. “He’s half a step ahead of other people.”
Johnson humbly accepted the award, saying, “I learned more than I taught you.” Then he introduced his wife, Yacintha.
Marvel also introduced the Farm Family of the Year, Dale and Donna Bishop and their daughters. Brought up on a dairy farm, Dale began a custom application business in his late 20s while partnering with Milford Fertilizer.
He and Donna began their journey with Bishop Farm Inc. in 1990, embodying an attitude of “do whatever it takes, as it’s honest work.”
What started as milking a few cows, raising babies and hauling a sprayer across the state for custom work has evolved into an expansive operation with grain crops in addition to custom spraying, baling and chopping for local farmers.
Marvel noted the theme of all ag organizations now is “finding the next generation,” and said the Bishops are a family dedicated to the future of agriculture. Their daughters have stayed closely connected to the farm. Megan, the oldest, works side-by-side with Dale on the daily operations, bookwork and managing the custom baling in the summer.
Their middle daughter, Logan, is employed by Growmark F.S., but also helps with seed, fertilizer and crop protection materials. The youngest, Ali, works in marketing with a dream of returning to the family farm soon.
A quote the Bishop family lives by is, “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.”
Marvel concluded, “Loving the industry, preserving the future of agriculture and just trying to help feed the world one day at a time is what Bishop Farms Inc. is all about.”
Donna thanked Farm Bureau for the honor.
“We are a ‘behind-the-scenes’ family. We couldn’t do this without God,” she said. “We are very blessed.”
Earlier in the evening, Delaware Farm Bureau President Richard Wilkins challenged those gathered at the Felton Fire Hall to invite every person who has anything to do with agriculture to join Farm Bureau. “We need to pull together to keep this industry in Delaware,” he said.
James Minner, new KCFB president, welcomed DFB’s new executive director, Donald Clifton, to the banquet. “I’d like to see more emphasis on youth in agriculture,” Minner added. “These are extremely difficult times. Youth trying to start a farm have a rough road ahead.”