Lincoln County produce auction grows in popularity

May 03, 2004|EMILY BURTON

CRAB ORCHARD - These are not your grandmother's flowers. Among the patchwork rows of plants at the Lincoln County Produce Auction, you won't find pass impatients to nod quietly around the front porch. Double impatients colored by Marilyn Monroe's lipstick demand admiration. Marigolds like gold medallions pop with fragrance.

And above it all, the hypnotic hum of the auctioneer leads buyers down the rows in a steady progression.

At Friday's auction, located outside Crab Orchard on Ky. 39, prices grew just as healthy as the plants, pleasing bidders and producers alike with the strong start of a fledgling auction spot.

One buyer at the auction said he was surprised to see such good prices. Usually, he said, Tuesday's going rate is better than Friday's. But final bids have been decent since the produce auction's opening in April, said sales manager Jerry Shelton.

"The prices just depend on the crowd, and who's here," said Shelton.


Now is the time to join the crowd, said one bidder.

"There's always something good come through, especially baked goods," said bidder Eliza Crutcher. Every auction day brings in a wide variety of home-cooked and home-grown product from local farmers.

"It's going to be fresh, and the quality's going to be better than what you'll find in any store," explained Shelton.

They found excellent produce after coming out to support local farmers

Many at the auction agreed, saying they found excellent produce after coming out to support local farmers.

"I was impressed, they have very healthy stuff, and I know the baked goods are all natural," said auction-goer Rethia Sims. She and sister-in-law Crystal Insco, owner of Crystal's Produce Ect. in Bryantsville, came to stock up for the store.

Insco had successfully bid on a car-full of bedding plants and vibrant Wave petunias, using a discreet nod to close the deals.

The trick to catching such nonchalant bids, like half-winks and head dips, is looking the crowd in the eyes, said auctioneer Billy Wayne Bryant with Ford Brothers Auctioneer and Reality Firm.

"Some of them wink, some of them flip their fingers ... sometimes you can just look in their eyes and nod a little bit," said Bryant.

"(It takes) a good crowd and lots of bidders, cause if you don't have bidders it makes it really tough," said auctioneer Danetta Ford Allen of Ford Brothers.

So far, the crowds and sale items have grown steadily, said Shelton. Soon to be seen on the auction block are squash, strawberries, tomatoes, baked goods, rhubarb and asparagus, to name a few.

With garden dreams blooming into Technicolor reality, the auction is quickly turning weekend shoppers into big fans.

"I never saw such healthy plants," exclaimed Sims as she and Insco carefully loaded the car. "You can't get plants like these, and look at the buds coming out!"

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