by Julie Obermiller
The buy-local boom is good news for our local farmers trying to get fresh produce to local restaurants and tables. A new business venture is set to unite growers and buyers in a quick, auction-style fashion.
Orleans Produce Auction had a soft opening last month with a consignment farm machine sale and it is starting its public auctions at 10 a.m. on May 3 with shrubs, bedding plants, hanging baskets and nursery stock of all kinds. Auctions will continue each Friday in May.
Beginning on June 11, the auction will be open on Tuesdays and Fridays. Organizers said they hope to have plenty of strawberries, asparagus and early crops to offer.
The market is set to grow and adapt to the needs of the local farmers and buyers, but the goal is to provide a quick in-and-out auction for busy business owners. The OPA also will provide assistance with loading of purchases, if needed.
The Orleans Produce Auction General Partnership has five board members representing the Mennonite community, but the market is open to all area farmers and buyers. Similar Amish auction markets are located downstate, but this is the first locally. Organizers hope to provide mom and pop grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, landscapers, produce stands and others with quick access to the best produce this area has to offer.
Auction manager Richard Stauffer is available every auction day to answer questions the public may have. The auctions will be run by Bontrager auctions of Batavia. Information about auctions can be found at www.bontragerauction.com.
For the farmer with a fresh harvest, it provides a way to get goods sold at the peak of perfection. The OPA takes a flat 10 percent commission on sales; there are no hidden charges.
Sellers and buyers should plan on arriving at 8:30 a.m. for initial registration, and to be assigned a number. New York state tax numbers must be submitted, if applicable. Regular buyers will be assigned permanent numbers to use at bidding.
Coffee, cold drinks and hot dogs will be available for sale on site.
Buyers will inspect the produce/plants before the auction. Payment is required at the time of sale. All sales are final. Transactions will be in cash until credit is approved; checks may be pre-approved.
Board member Amon Zimmerman of Lyndonville said these rules are necessary to get the business going. Future plans and auctions will be consumer-driven.
"We hope to adapt to meet the needs of local farmers and buyers," Zimmerman said. "We would like to meet the needs of surrounding communities."
Looking ahead, there may be a retail component for those buyers who do not need to buy in quantity. The board invites interested parties to stop by on auction day and see what members have to offer.
Orleans Produce Auction is located at 12590 Ridge Road, Albion (between Townline and Knowlesville Road).