Produce auction showcases area goods
PENN YAN—Trucks arrive early to the Finger Lakes Produce Auction, forming a line that snakes around the building located on Route 14A in Penn Yan.
Each flatbed or trailer contains pumpkins, potatoes, onions, potted plants, and the rest of this season’s ripe harvest. The lines pass through the back end of the large, open building. There an auctioneer sells each box load or row of flowers to the gathered crowd. Before the sales start, buyers, and sellers, peruse the goods available that day.
It’s like this way almost every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the auction’s peak season. The only major change is what is being sold.
The Finger Lakes Produce Auction was formed in 2000. Office Manager Jim Lightfoote said it started selling goods in 2001. The auction runs year round but on different days.
“Every year it seems to grow,” he said.
Depending on how busy the auction is, there can be up to 11 people working there. While it is busy, the auction runs fairly efficiently. Lightfoote said this is because many of the consigners and buyers are the same people.
The produce auction is managed by a board of directors. Lightfoote explained that anywhere there is a large Amish or Mennonite community you will find a produce auction. He added the auction originally spun off from The Windmill Farm and Craft Market.
Lightfoote said at any one time there are around 200 people selling. Consigners come from as far as Rochester, Elmira, Binghamton, Syracuse, Pennsylvania, and even a few from Niagra Falls.
He said a lot of the vegetables sold come from local farmers though. Lightfoote added the auction makes sure to distinguish what was grown in and outside the area.
The number of consigners and buyers changes due to the day. For example, the auction holds a number of days for specific sales.
Lightfoote said two Fridays ago was Pumpkin day, bringing in about 140 consigners. He said quilt and craft day had over 200 people present. Lightfoote said between 900 and 1,000 people are present for the farm machinery sale.
The majority of the buyers are retailers, so many items are sold in bulk. Lightfoote said most of the produce sold goes to roadside stands, and some stores. He added smaller lots are offered toward the end of an auction.
“A peck of this or a quart of that,” explained Lightfoote.
During the winter, Fridays feature smaller quantities to bid on and produce shipped in from outside the area.