Amish community's produce auction opens April 13

March 04, 2004|EMILY BURTON

CRAB ORCHARD - This winter, as gardeners sipped hot chocolate and entertained green dreams of growing things, members of the Amish community cultivated a new produce auction pavilion for the fruits, and vegetables, of their labors.

The Lincoln County Produce Auction is almost ripe for it's April 13 opening day. With Tuesday's delivery of rich black asphalt for the parking lot, the new pavilion is ready to flourish.

"We hope to provide an additional income and market for Lincoln County farmers," said the general manager of the auction. Using his team of draft horses, friendly Belgians in leather traces, he and more than 30 fellow shareholders broke ground in November for the pavilion and attached offices.

The wholesale market is located outside Crab Orchard on KY 39, but the auction will be open to the public and attendees will hail from a 50-mile radius, said sales manager Jerry Shelton. Their pallets and crates of the season's best will be lined up, auctioned off and moved out within a two-hour window on each sale day. Local restaurants and groceries are included on the prospective buyers list.


"Most this stuff will be in large quantities," said Shelton, though arrangements can be made for smaller sales. "If someone has an extra couple bushels of beans, we'll try to work out something."

The auction will progress similar to those in a tobacco warehouse, with a single auctioneer moving the bidding. Every item up for auction must meet uniform packing standards and be paid for in cash. A commission rate of 10 percent will be assessed to support the auction, and no private sales will be conducted on the grounds. "We hope everything goes as well as can be, but like I said, we'll learn as we go," said Shelton.

Organizers say they will do what is needed to ensure happy customers and fruitful sales, including trying to fill requests for products and screening produce before auction.

"If there's something that you need, we'll try to get if for you," said Shelton. "We do want good quality stuff."

Items for sale will include bedding plants and early produce in April and will continue through December to feature hay, straw and firewood.

An auction will be held twice a week in the spring, will increase to four days in July, and will return to three days in October with the sales of pumpkins, mums and ornamental squash. With winter's footfall in December, sales will be reduced to once per week, but no matter what the season, organizers say the auction will come up roses.

"It's a good way for small farmers to have a market," said Shelton. "And it helps someone make a living to stay on the farm."

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