Friday, October 19, 2012

Chesterhill Produce Auction Winds Down for the Winter with Community Celebration

CHESTERHILL, OH - As autumn colors paint Appalachian Ohio’s hills shades of dusty red and shimmering yellow once more, farmers in southern Morgan County are preparing for the end of the growing season with a community celebration before the winter close of the largest wholesale marketplace in their region: the Chesterhill Produce Auction.

Some of the gorgeous autumn baskets at the auction this year.

 Located southwest of Chesterhill, Ohio in Morgan County, the Chesterhill Produce Auction began on a summer day seven years ago with a handful of helpers and growers working together to create a sustainable, aggregated destination for restaurants and institutional purchasers to get fresh, local produce for their businesses. In turn, these buyers would help bolster the growing potential of the rural community in Morgan County as demand increased, and local communities would see healthier, fresher produce on local menus, in local schools and on the kitchen table.

What began those seven years ago has now grown into an economic food destination for buyers and sellers in southeastern Ohio. From increased livelihood of area farmers to fresh, local produce making its way into regional schools, the effectiveness of the Chesterhill Produce Auction can be seen in many places.

The 2012 auction season in Chesterhill was marked with boosts in both revenue and attendance - including growers and buyers - of significant degrees. While Morgan County faces challenges as one of the poorest in the state, the Chesterhill Produce Auction continues to provide an economic stronghold for regional growers, which includes a large farming community in the Chesterhill area. The current year-to-date revenue for this year is up 34% from 2011 and continues to increase each year.

But sellers alone don’t benefit from the auction. A dedicated network of community members continues to utilize the rural hotspot for food purchasing that is the Chesterhill Produce Auction. The total number of registered buyers for this year has shot up 33% from last year to include approximately 1,600 buyers, which includes restaurants, retail sellers, food pantries and schools in the area.

As in years past, the auction will cap off this season with a community potluck and craft expo – showcasing handmade brooms from Peter Snellman of the Vintage Broom Shop, as well as many other vendors - during the final produce auction on Thursday, October 25 at 3:00 p.m. This final celebration of the fruitful growing season will be followed by a day-long consignment auction on Saturday, November 3 beginning at 10:00 a.m. featuring farm equipment, house wares, leather making supplies and more. Traditional dishes will be available from community members for both events featuring seasonal autumn recipes and locally grown produce.

As community members celebrate the end of another successful, eventful and memorable season in southeastern Ohio, area growers continue to prepare for the winter months and the beginning of the spring growing season next year. Increased purchasing from institutions like Camden Clark Medical Center and West Virginia University in Parkersburg, West Virginia will continue into the new growing season, and new purchasers partnering with the auction will only increase demand for fresh, local produce and enable further growth for regional farmers.

The Chesterhill Produce Auction is a project of Rural Action’s Sustainable Agriculture program. Rural Action is a membership-based nonprofit organization promoting social, economic and environmental justice and working for sustainable communities, economies and environments in Appalachian Ohio. For more information, go to

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