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Posts Tagged ‘Rural Action’

Nearly there

Yesterday was a hot, steamy day – perfect for getting out of Athens and heading into the hills of Morgan County.  The approach to the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA) was marked by a tiny barn wearing a painted quilt square. The sun was shining as we pulled into the already packed parking area around 3:15pm. Ahead stood the auction pavilion, its open side doors catching any breezes.

the crowd examines lots of color and vegetation

CPA is now managed by RuralAction;  its mission to bring people to a rural site to buy quality produce and to provide Chesterhill with a rural food destination and economic hub. In 2010, The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs published a report on the development of the CPA which offers a detailed history of CPA’s beginnings and evolution.

At the far end of the barn several tables nearly groaned under the weight of pot luck food and drink. Cold water with fresh mint, an array of salads (Shagbark Seed & Mill Company’s spelt berries were spotted in one), focaccia from John Gutekanst’s Avalanche Pizza, and plenty of cookies and other sweet nibbles. Just behind the pot luck tables, I stepped up to the window to register for a bidding number and was ready to survey the auction’s goods.

awaiting the ride home

Off to the left side of the building, I could see some of the horses and buggies used by the Amish farmers to bring their produce to the market.  While the auction sells produce from non Amish farmers (known colloquially as English),  any producer can be part of the auction.

Brandon Jaeger

The region’s food-focused community was well represented: Leslie Schaller from ACEnet, Community Food Initiatives‘ Ronda Clark (and her daughters),  Michelle Ajamian and Brandon Jaeger, owners of Shagbark Seed and Mill Co., and someone who has become a major customer of CPA, Matt Rapposelli, the executive chef at Ohio University.

Rural Action's Bob Fedyski

Many of Rural Action’s staff and board were on hand including those charged with working on sustainable agriculture and the CPA – Bob Fedyski and Tom Redfern.

Not surprisingly, the heat gave way to a heavy downpour and flashes of lightning and the large pavilion doors were pulled down. But by the time the auction began at 4 pm, the sun returned and the bidding began. Lots of lots…asparagus, rhubarb, maple syrup, bird houses, popcorn (unpopped), wood shavings, garden stakes, and plenty of garden seedlings and hanging flower baskets.  My favorite items were some beautifully made apple crates (which I didn’t get), but I happily came home with some sweet potato starts.

heirloom tomatoes ready for the garden or porch

I highly recommend a trip to the CPA. It’s colorful, there’s a real feeling of community, and you can get some great deals. Auctions take place every Monday and Thursday through October 22nd, with the doors opening at 3pm, giving you plenty of time to check out the various lots.

Before heading back to Athens,  I said goodbye to the patient horses.

see you soon

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The crowd checks out the auction offerings

Next Thursday is the opening day of the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA) and you are invited.  Morgan County (OH) is home to this well-known local foods destination, with auctions scheduled for Mondays and Thursdays through October.  Each event offers the opportunity to buy seasonal produce, plants, crafts, and more, in a wide variety of lot sizes, for both the home and business.

Children enjoy the fruits of local farmers

The May 12thfestivities will begin at 3pm with a community potluck and speakers, followed by the auction at 4pm. Children are invited to take part in planned nature activities. This year’s opening day celebrates the unique combination of public and private investment that has made this regional local foods hub possible.

The auction is owned by Rural Action, a membership-based organization promoting economic, social, and environmental justice in Appalachian Ohio.  After working for five years with the founders of the CPA,  in 2010 the organization brought together stakeholders throughout the region to secure the future of this community-based economic infrastructure. Financial support came from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), as well as a core group of local community investors, farmers, and supporters, and a loan from the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Berea, Kentucky.

Won't be long before the auction has an abundance of tomatoes

In 2010, ARC –  a regional economic development agency which represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government – announced funding of $50,000 in support of CPA, as part of its economic initiatives in Appalachian Ohio. The mission of the commission is to be a strategic partner and advocate for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia.  According to Louis Segesvary, ARC’s Public Affairs Officer, “The member states of the Appalachian Regional Commission are funding more and more food-related job creation projects to take advantage of Appalachia’s resources.”

Rural Action’s Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator, Tom Redfern, notes, “With the increased emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables as a way to improve health, initiatives that support the local farm production necessary to capture those markets allow us to win at both the economic and health level.”

For more information on the Chesterhill Produce Auction, contact Tom Redfern by calling 740.767.4938, or by emailing tomr@ruralaction.org. Information on the Chesterhill Produce Auction is available here.

The Produce Auction takes place at 8380 Wagoner Road in Chesterhill, Ohio.

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