Pandemic Pivot: Expanding Buying Club

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It’s almost unbelievable to think that it has been nine months since the COVID pandemic was declared and our lives drastically changed. I distinctly remember the moment when our team realized we would have to cancel our first auction of the year, back in March. That moment was followed by many hours of planning and discussing how we could operate the produce auction throughout the pandemic, with our community’s safety as a top priority. We ...

Food Deserts in Farm Country

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During the course of a growing season, over 300,000 pounds of produce comes into the Chesterhill Produce Auction in the hands of local growers and leaves in the hands of consumers. These direct transactions appear simple. Ten half pecks of bleeding heart tomatoes get unloaded from a buggy or truck bed, auctioned off to the highest bidder, and loaded back into a vehicle to go home and become soup, sauce, or canned tomatoes. But the ...

Holiday Bundle Sale Success

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After having to cancel our annual Holiday Auction due to the escalation of coronavirus cases in the region, our team had to get creative. We quickly pivoted to a Holiday Bundle Sale, offering our customers the opportunity to continue supporting local producers by purchasing bundles of locally-crafted goods and delicious treats. The bundles came in three sizes and included a selection of products from Integration Acres, Shagbark Seed & Mill, and local bakers and craftspeople ...

2020 Season Review

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Thank you. We could not have made it through this season without the support of our community. Despite the challenges of operating during a pandemic, the Chesterhill Produce Auction saw thousands of pounds of food come into the auction house and out to consumers. We were able to adapt quickly and operate under safe protocols, canceling only two auctions. This year, our large Buying Club was a critical component to a successful season. We distributed ...

Produce Poetry: Tomato

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We see a LOT of tomatoes come through the auction this time of year. Tomatoes are actually our top-selling produce item of the year. Many customers have been busy turning them into salsa and sauces. It has been heartening to see more people turning to canning and preserving food this year due to the pandemic. Though it can be frustrating when every store is sold out of lids! I wrote this short meditation on the ...

Sage & Mason – Setting Sites on New Vistas

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Autumn means the beginning of a new term for our AmeriCorps members. This year, that means the exciting addition of two new AmeriCorps VISTA members: Sage and Mason. We are eager to bring them onto the team and to see what good work they’ll accomplish to improve the production, distribution, and accessibility of sustainable food in the region. Read on to meet Sage and Mason in their own words. And make sure to give them ...

Getting Produce to Patients

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Rural Action and the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA) have forged a new partnership to expand our distribution into West Virginia and to get good food into the hands of people who need it most. Coplin Health Systems (CHS), in partnership with WVU Extension Service, coordinate the FARMacy, a fresh produce prescription program to help patients manage chronic health conditions through diet. The program helps ensure patient have access to healthy fruits and vegetables to improve ...

Produce Poetry: Beet

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Last week I brought seven bunches of beets home from the auction. They are one of my favorite root vegetables and CPA farmers know how to grow some beautiful beets! So I had a pickling party (…of two…thanks Mom) and ended up with five big jars of pickled beets. Since my fingertips are still stained red and beets are on the mind, I thought I’d share this poem. Beet I wish to lie on my ...

Farming from Scratch

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How do I start my own farm? What resources do I need to start a business? What models of farming exist in this region? The questions that pile up in a beginning farmer’s mind are plentiful and often overwhelming. Many beginning farmers share an earnest motivation to steward the land, but a largely blank slate when it comes to resources, generational knowledge, and access to land. The reality with which our country must contend is ...

Levi – The Classic

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For two years, Levi Brown has been a core part of our Sustainable Agriculture team. Anyone will tell you that whatever needs done, he will be the first to jump in and help. Levi is a kind, thoughtful, critical thinker and “one of my favorite people,” says Tom Redfern. On his last day of service, we spoke with him about his time with Rural Action and where he’s headed next. Over the course of Levi’s ...