Produce auction opens along Cedar Spring Road

VAN WERT – Wholesale produce is now available by auction in Juniata County. Juniata Produce Auction opened May 13 along Cedar Spring Road near Van Wert.

Jesse Renno, spokesperson for the Amish community who brought the business to the area, said the closest auction sites like this one are in Snyder County and the Buffalo Valley.

Renno said 60 families from the Tuscarora Mountain to the Shade Mountain regions of Juniata County came together to promote the sale of local produce. They met as a group in September, concerned there were too many roadside produce stands in the area competing with each other.

“Some (of the Amish) still prefer to do that,” he said, but the vast majority put their money together to construct the the 60-by-160-foot open building.

Sales are held around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. Right now, the sales last about two hours. Renno said he expects the sales to shorten to 20 minutes in June, when strawberries will be a big seller and will be available for purchase at a minimum of eight to 16 quarts.

“This is not just for the Amish and Mennonite community,” Renno said, “This is for everyone.”

Wholesale buyers can purchase the produce and resell the items at their own locations as well.

J. Merle Stoltzfus of Beiler and Campbell Auctioneering does the calling for the sales.

“People really seem to like it,” Renno said, noting that the business brings money back into the community.

“It’s a community thing,” he said.

Benches will be added and beginning in June, sales will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the schedule changing to Monday, Wednesday and Friday later in summer “when the spoilage time starts.” The auction will be held through Thanksgiving. Then it will close for the winter and reopen the last week of April.

A food stand is offered by David Renno as a separate entity from the produce auction, which does not offer processed foods.

Jesse Renno said he is excited to see what becomes of the business as the summer progresses.

“It took us seven months of paperwork to get here,” he said. “It’s just amazing to me how the community is in favor of all of this.”