A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mennonites show how its done!

A recent trip to the Elmira area made me aware of The Elmira Produce Auction Co-operative, an auction center for local produce that has met with enormous success and has spawned an increase in market garden operations in the area as well as providing existing farmers with an outlet for their produce. It seem like we have a lot to learn from this Mennonite community, this is a model that should be followed across the country to provide LOCAL fresh food in large quantities to local retailers as well as supporting our struggling produce growers.

Below are a couple of clips from an information PDF, for more Google “mennonite+produce+auction “

The Elmira Produce Auction Co-operative is Canada’s first wholesale produce auction and it is an important part of the closely-knit Mennonite community north of Kitchener-Waterloo. As a result of the BSE crisis Mennonite beef farmers began to explore other avenues of agricultural production. They started growing more vegetables and fruits but needed a way to sell their products if they chose not to market directly to the public. ......

The auction occurs three times a week during the summer season and once a week in the spring and fall in the co-op’s 8,000 square foot building in Elmira. Preference is given to produce grown within a 75 kilometre radius; however, if there is space the management will give the approval for producers that have traveled greater distances to sell at the auction..........

Both small- scale and larger producer members sell at the produce auction. This creates a variety of different vegetables and fruits as well as varying quantities of pro- duce which helps the buyers who come from a range of backgrounds. The largest group of buyers tend to be farmers’ market vendors or farmers with farm gate businesses. Grocery stores and universities also regularly partake in the auction to source the locally-grown produce. The co-operative has experienced a 600 percent increase in sales since it began in 2004. The auction doubled in sales every year for the first three years of operation and increased 30 percent in 2008. Because the auction is gaining in popularity, the co-operative decided to expand the building and parking lot for the 2009 season.............

In 2008, the auction sold 210,000 pounds of tomatoes, 160,000 pounds of potatoes, 14,000 cases of lettuce, 4,100 bins of watermelons, 100,000 pounds of carrots, 269 boxes of asparagus and a long list of other products.

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