When Jean and Marvin Konkle moved to the Morgan County Village of Chesterhill in 2003 they brought with them a lifetime of experiences and a desire to positively participate in their new community. They had previously lived near Bainbridge, in Ross County, where they had witnessed the development and impact of a new produce auction in that area. They decided they would try to do the same thing in Chesterhill.
A produce auction is a form of farmers market where produce is sold, at auction, often in large quantities, to a range of buyers. Buyers and sellers are issued numbers, a clerk records the transactions, customers pay at the end of the auction, and growers are given weekly checks for what they sell. Produce is usually brought in on horse drawn buggies, laid out on pallets for customers to inspect, creating an array of impressive bounty. The action is fast paced and exciting, like most auctions, and people come to witness the atmosphere, and enjoy the sense of community as well as to purchase the high quality farm products.
Jean and Marvin Konkle were introduced to Rural Action in late 2003, and became members in 2004. Through a project funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, Rural Action was working to increase sales to local institutions, restaurants and stores. The Konkles presented their idea to our program and a partnership that lasted for 6 years, and continues, was born. For more information on the formation of the CPA check out the case study.
In conjunction with the Konkles, OSU extension, and community leaders from Morgan County, a series of organizational and educational meetings were held throughout 2004 and 2005. A steering committee made up of growers and other partners was formed, and an educational and marketing campaign was started. When five buggies of farmers from Chesterhill made the trek to Amesville in September of 2004, to learn about drip line irrigation from Kip Rondy of Greenedge Gardens the grower investment in Chesterhill began!
In April of 2010, Rural Action purchased the CPA from the Konkles through community support. Our goal is to build the sustainability of the auction and to create a long-term, grower-owned, local foods destination.
Chesterhill has now become a destination in South Eastern Ohio for local produce. It is now home to a weekly farmers market as well as thriving on farm sales. Since groundbreaking in June of 2005 thousands of people from throughout Ohio and West Virginia have come to the Chesterhill Produce Auction for the quality products and the camaraderie. Buyers include restaurants, grocery stores, road side stands, individuals looking to preserve food and share with neighbors, and since 2007 Ohio University Dining Services.
The Chesterhill Produce Auction is held weekly from May through October, with Auctions on Thursdays and Mondays. For more information call Tom Redfern or Bob Fedyski at 740-767-4938. The Auction is located at 8380 Wagoner Road , between Route 555 and Route 377, southwest of Chesterhill, Ohio in Morgan County.