Dreams of a Produce Auction Coming True

4/9/2011 10:00 AM

Jessica Rose Spangler

OXFORD, Pa. — The thought of opening a produce auction in the Oxford area has been a dream of many growers for years. But few of them ever thought the dream would come true — let alone be finished in less than two years.

The “brain child” of auctioneer David Longenecker and grower John E. King, also the auction manager, the Oxford Produce Auction is set to open April 14 — just in time for Easter flowers.

Longenecker and his wife, Orpha Rose, are partners in Petersheim & Longenecker Auctioneers and have taken bids at other local auctions for many years.

Longenecker said it finally dawned on him — why are produce growers in southern Chester County forced to take their products more than 30 miles to find an auction? Thus, the idea was formed in the spring of 2009.

Longenecker got the ball rolling when he approached a group of established Amish produce growers. For several months, the group simply tossed around ideas, eventually deciding to hold a public meeting. About 50 growers came, leading to more meetings and a questionnaire to gauge interest and commitment levels.

A committee of five men, including Longenecker and King, was formed, which in turn enlisted the help of John Goodall of the Brandywine Conservancy.

Because of Oxford’s close proximity to Baltimore and Philadelphia, the committee searched for a piece of land that would make it easy for customers from those cities to travel to the auction.

A tract of land was found at 200 Union School Road, at the intersection of Routes 1 and 10, and purchased on Feb. 18. Plans for the 80-by-250-foot auction barn were drawn up and immediately executed.

Unlike other markets, there will be no electricity at the Oxford Produce Auction. Instead, clear plastic walls were put up to allow sunlight in.

During the time it took to find the land, 40 produce growers and the Longeneckers formed a limited liability company and raised the $750,000 it took to purchase the land, assemble the building and pay all of the fees associated with the process.

Now that the building process is nearing an end, anticipation is mounting for opening day.

Depending on the season, offerings will include flowers, sweet corn, berries, melons, potatoes, pumpkins and much more.

This wholesale auction will be fast-paced, selling items by the piece with bidders responsible for taking the whole “pile” of produce. There also will be a drive-through auction where customers can buy whole wagon-loads or truckloads.

Auctions are planned for every Tuesday and Thursday, beginning at 8 a.m. and ending by noon. Further details can be found at www.petersheimandlongenecker.com.

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