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Staff Report

Farmers and fresh food suppliers who like to keep things local have a new shopping alternative.

Orleans Produce Auction opened Friday and offers local farmers a place to sell, and local retailers a place to buy, fresh produce, agricultural goods and gardening materials in a quick, auction-style fashion.

Auctions start at 10 a.m. each Friday through May and run at the same times Tuesdays and Fridays starting June 11. By that time, organizers hope to have strawberries, asparagus and other early crops to offer.

The market – at 12590 Ridge Road, between Townline and Knowlesville roads, in Albion – will adapt to the needs of local farmers and buyers. The goal is to provide a quick in-and-out auction for busy business owners. Assistance with loading of purchases also will be available, 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 can be found 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 in the region.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for our farmers and it’s unique,” said Julie Obermiller, who helps run the seasonal farm market in the nearby Village of Barker.

“They’re not discouraging the small buyer,” Obermiller added. “They can come down and see what it’s all about because it’s a small venture and new to the area.”

Auction manager Richard Stauffer is available every auction day to answer questions. The auctions will be run by Bontrager Auctions of Batavia. For more information, visit www.bontragerauction.com.

For the farmer with a fresh harvest, the auction market will provides a way to get it 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 to arrive at 8:30 a.m. for initial registration, and to be assigned a number. New York State tax numbers must be submitted, if applicable. Coffee, cold drinks and hot dogs will be available for sale on site.

Board member Amon Zimmerman, of Lyndonville, said future plans and auctions will be consumer driven.

“We hope to adapt to meet the needs of local farmers and buyers,” said Zimmerman. “We would like to meet the needs of surrounding communities.”