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VERNON ACHENBACH, JR.
Lancaster Fanning Staff
Co.) Just north of the city of
Lebanon, along Rt. 72, Paul Horst
has created a meeting place for loc
al producers and buyers. It’s called
a farmers market.
On Thursday, the 6,000-square
foot market site is getting an added
dimension a 4,000-square foot
The reason Horst has started the
business is mostly because he said
he sees a need for the facility and
an opportunity to provide a reliable
market for area vegetable and fruit
growers and a place for local retail
businesses to purchase fresh, loc
ally grown produce.
It is not without a little risk.
Horst said he secs the risk, but
feels strongly that it will work; that
local producers, from Lebanon,
Lancaster, Berks, Dauphin and
Schuylkill counties, will be able to
benefit from having a facility
where their home-raised goods can
be offered for sale.
Local businesses will also be
able to know that the goods they
buy are not day-old rejects from a
grocery vegetable bin.
In fact, that’s why Horst said the
auction doesn’t start until 3 p.m.
“Thai’s so the farmer has lime to
pick fruit or vegetables in the
morning when the moisture con
test is higher. The freshness is bet
ter and it is better for handling than
if picked the night before and let sit
until the next day,” he said.
That means added value for the
producer, a chance to market his
produce at its peak. And it means a
better product for the buyer.
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Lebanon Produce Auction To Open
“We have a lot of professional
growers in the Hegins Valley, and
in the Berks area, etc., and there
just is no operation like this in the
area. None that is a farmer’s mark
et and auction,” he said.
He said he believes in it and he is
working to make it happen.
“What arc all the tobacco grow
ers going to do?” he said, referring
to the severe drop in security in a
tobacco crop, which has historical
ly been a consistent cash crop for
many in southcentral and eastern
Vegetables and fruits can also
be high-value crops. But Paul said
that the outlets fra these locally
produced items are limited.
Especially in Lebanon County
and headed west into Hershey,
Hummelstown and Harrisburg.
Sure, there is the summer far
mers market in the parking lot of
the Farm Show Complex. But that
isn’t what the produce auction is to
This is to be the place that serves
as a conduit for local fresh, full
flavored produce to get into the
homes and bellies of the people in
the area. It’s not to be a place
where a rejected shipment of pro
duce from California gets side
tracked as a last resort to get a
return on the investment.
“I fell strongly that it’ll work.
That’s why I’m making it,” Horst
Though he didn’t mention the
market by name, years ago there
had been a fanners market north of
the city of Lebanon that had been
similar to some of those still oper
ating in Lancaster County. It was
big and open air and smelled of
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Paul Horst stands next to the sign along Rt. 72, north of Lebanon city, at the
entrance to his farmer’s market, auction facility. Horst has used a part of his family
farm to start up a center where the rural/farmlng grass roots producers can meet and
do business with retail buyers or local bulk purchases.
apples and baked goods in the fall
and was full of people most of the
It burned to the ground and
wasn’t rebuilt the same way.
Horst said he missed the old
market place and after talking
about it with some other people,
decided he could build a place on
Horst started the farmers market
in 1991. He sacrificed part of the
200-some acre farm his grand
father first started working in
1919, and with the help of his two
teenaged sons, dug out and graded
a flat area to construct the market.
Son Nathan, then 14. did most of
the combining that year on the 184
tillable acres left on the farm. He
also ran the pan, while younger
brother Jeremy, then 12, ran a
“Everybody has a job to do,"
Paul said, proud of his sons’ abili
ties and eagerness to help. On
Wednesday, his sons were helping
to build a four-dock loading pad to
the auction part of the facility.
Paul drives truck for New Penn,
an occupation he grew into having
been raised on the fruit and veget
able farm his grandfather J. Morris
Horst started, his late father Ralph
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M. Horst (he used to work for the
Farm and Home Administration
locally) continued, and that he was
Paul said he used to drive pro
duce truck into markets in Phi
ladelphia, New York and New
“Years ago we hauled to Phi
ladelphia, New York ... and we
were at the mercy of the broker.
You drop (the produce) off, and
he’d send you a check. You didn’t
know who bought it.
“At an auction, a seller can
know who the buyer is. You can’t
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