Auction Revives Small Vegetable Farm in Pennsylvania

In box trucks and carriages, Amish farmers and others carry cardboard boxes of bright vegetables and fruits to an open-side auction house in Oxford, Chester County, Pennsylvania, where they meet grocery, restaurant, and caterer buyers three mornings. bottom. week.

It looks like an outdated scene. However, Oxford Produce Auction LLC, owned by 40 Amish farmers, is only 10 years old. Right next to the US 1 Highway from Philadelphia to Baltimore, the auction is an amazing 300-year-old farm community in western Chester and southern Lancaster County, where young families make a living from small lands rather than leaving. It shows a change. Seeking a local or wage job.

Through irrigation, greenhouses and family labor, they grow shiny tomatoes and sweet corn, peppers and eggplants, watermelons and melons. They know that they can sell these items at auction to production-sensitive cities and local buyers. Prices are competitive with durable produce trucked east from major industrial producers.

From 9am, market-hired Petersheim & Longenecker auctioneers collect bids from the crowd and start chanting in a hurry.

It takes 1-2 minutes per lot and over 2 hours to sell everything. “Sweet corn is harvested at 4am, sold at 9am and displayed in stores by 11am. This is the way to sell produce,” says the family’s 35-acre Cochrane Building, which grows strawberries and melons. Jeff Storzhus says. Climb the road.

He’s not an Amish, but his name is common here. Three bearded growers in bright blue and dark green shirts approach and seek advice to combat plant blight that can turn newly selected watermelons into muddy. Stoltzfus is also a state agricultural extension services agent.

He estimates that there are 100 similar auctions based on Amish and other religious communities across the country. Wherever the plain community with large families is expanding, “when a critical mass occurs, an auction occurs.” The small market in Leola, Lancaster County dates back to 1985.

“Vegetables have replaced dairy products around here,” Stoltzfus added. “With thousands of neighbors, we can make a living from produce. Enter Philadelphia restaurants and local markets.

“Twenty years ago, I thought Amish was moving away from the suburbs, but now bankers are lending on vegetable-only farms. You’ve never seen it. Now You can make 25 acres of vegetables from 70 acres of dairy products. They bought “farm-ettes” where the family might have maintained a horse farm on the weekend, with some greenhouses. Contains a few acres of pepper. “

The concrete-floor hut has been extended twice until it is longer than the soccer field, with farmers flocking by the box and wearing bright shirts and straw hats. Children rush to do errands and stretch their necks to see. Buyers (neighborhood grocery stores, Philadelphia restaurant suppliers, immigrant caterers) look at produce in late August.

The auction market does not guarantee good returns. One day in mid-August, corn on the Leola market started at $ 2.50 a dozen and fell to 50 cents. State extension worker Becky Clawson said when the deal was suspended due to a shortage of buyers. The food will then be donated to the Chester County Food Bank.

She checked the Lancaster Central Market stand next Saturday and found that the excess did not affect the retail price of local sweet corn for urban buyers. That is a strong demand for fresh local ingredients.

“No one has what these guys are doing. No one can compare,” says Wolff’s Applehouse Agricultural Market 100 years ago near the media and Westgrove’s Yates Agricultural Products Sales. Tom Stone is a veteran produce buyer who handles orders for traders, wholesalers and markets in Philadelphia and Baltimore. area. He also visits the Philadelphia Wholesale Agricultural Center and the Vineland Cooperative Auctions, a larger market dealing with larger producers for customers, including supermarket chains.

The remote buyer gives the broker stone a maximum price for each item required. For a 3% reduction, he buys boxes and produce skids for them and fills the trailer. Pandemics have pushed prices up, but they are back on Earth.

Stone, one of the hundreds in Oxford last Tuesday when he arrived wearing a face mask, added that “no one knows what the price will be” on a particular day. The market is also open on Thursdays and Fridays.

Transporting produce by truck or wagon, farmers in Chester and Lancaster counties meet with buyers in Philadelphia and its suburbs and disrupt the Oxford produce auction three days a week.

It also helps build an Amish community

Auction Revives Small Vegetable Farm in Pennsylvania

Source link Auction Revives Small Vegetable Farm in Pennsylvania

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