Monday, July 30, 2012

In search of yellow watermelon...Chesterhill Produce Auction, here we come!

Team 1 of the UNICEF/Ohio University Communication for Development (C4D) workshop is collaborating with the community-based organization Rural Action to develop a communication strategy to promote the Chesterhill Produce Auction. As part of the workshop, we spent the week of July 23-27) conducting "formative research" to learn all we could about the area and about the auction. On Monday we had a GREAT session at Ohio University led by the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, which covered the historical, political and cultural context in Appalachia and south-east Ohio. On Tuesday, our international group of UNICEF professionals from 8 different countries (Swaziland, Ghana, China, France, Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Moldova, and Bangladesh) traveled to the office of Rural Action in Trimble. There we listened and learned about the importance of local food systems and efforts to promote income generation, access to nutritious food, and local self-sufficiency. Rural Action is dedicated to fostering "social, economic, and environmental justice in Appalachian Ohio,"  and the Chesterhill Produce Auction is one activity (among many) that supports that mission.

On Tuesday, we went to the site of the auction and held a focus group discussion with farmers and community members. One thing we learned during the focus group is that people have a variety of reasons - beyond produce - to attend the auction. As one person stated,  "There is a family environment - it's not just an auction... it's also a chance to socialize."

Interested in socializing ourselves, we visited the auction this past Thursday (July 26). Some headed straight for the small fixed-price store within the auction to buy Rhubarb pies and handmade soaps. Those of us who said we might not bid on produce (because we weren't sure how to do it), soon found ourselves in heated "bidding wars" over berries and melons (Victorious!).

In the end, we were SO successful with our auction purchases that we organized a group dinner to cook up our hard-earned produce. During dinner we experienced the joys of fresh, locally-produced vegetables.

What was our overall experience at the auction? Exciting, educational, nutritious AND delicious!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this story! The links are very useful!

  2. Thank you Karen for the story. I enjoyed it. Was looking out for yellow melons.

    Another adjective of how we felt? Refreshing!