By Bruce Stambaugh
Most folks go there to either buy or sell. I go for peace and joy.
The Farmers Produce Auction west of Mt. Hope, Ohio is heaven on earth for me. Given the size of the crowds and the non-stop activity, I have a feeling I’m not alone in that sentiment.
This little spot of paradise, located dead-center in the prettiest township in Ohio, bustles with business. That’s especially true in fall, the summit of the harvest season.
That it is so raucous this time of year should come as no surprise. The skid loaders, the bins, the baskets, the boxes, the trucks, the wagons, the carts, the pallets overflow with all of Creation’s botanical creativity.
Though they may not look like it, the auction grounds and buildings are the Garden of Eden April to November. Fall is its horn of plenty.
Growers of all delicious fruits and vegetables and eye candy fall flowers gather their goods and come to the auction. As diverse as the produce varieties, attendees represent a microcosm of society. Men, women, children, black, brown, white, young, old and in between, workers, buyers, sellers and admirers harmoniously intermingle.
Once the auctioneers’ voices begin to resound, all eyes and ears swivel to attention. Buyers from small urban markets, major grocery stores, and mom and pop stands along country roads stay glued to the rhythmical cadence of the hucksters.
They want to make sure they’re going to get the best produce for the best possible price. They know what their customers want and what they’ll pay for quality fresh food and flowers. It’s entrepreneurship at its finest.
Finer still is the paint pallet of colors of the gourds, squash, pumpkins, mums, watermelon, tomatoes, plums, apples and cucumbers. Together they create a biological masterpiece.
Click on the photos to enlarge them.
I wander through the grounds absorbing this end of the rainbow experience. The raw aromas of the fruits and veggies mingle with those of the resting horses and the scrumptious offerings of the beckoning lunch stand.
As if this ever-changing live landscape painting weren’t enough, the singsong crackle of the auctioneers’ voices over the loudspeakers lead the melody of the moment. The hum of the electric loaders, the dozens of sidebar conversations, and the hailing of one person to another across the way sing in harmony.
I glide through as those around me keep to their appointed tasks of loading and unloading, of buying and selling. I am unhindered as I zigzag my way up and down the aisles careful not to interfere or offend.
When I stop and admire the artistry in the earthiness of the individual brush strokes of this organic collage, I come alive. I am at peace. I find joy in the natural patterns of the speckled, striped, plump, oblong, elongated brightness nestled in this temporary harvest home.
The scene could be a Monet or a Rockwell with one exception. It’s real, and it’s all around me, intoxicating all who partake.
Once the bidding ends, a patented rush begins in two directions. One is to quickly but carefully load the delivery trucks to ensure freshness to the awaiting customers miles away. The other is to the food stand, where the chefs are generous with their portions and their geniality.
From still life to landscape to abstract renderings, this produce market offers much more than edibles. In the course of the procurement, peace and joy surreptitiously enrich the colorful treats.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2015
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