A committee of Amish farmers is seeking a special use permit to build a facility to house a wholesale vegetable market open to any farmer looking for an outlet for produce and hay.
About 30 Amish farmers attended a meeting in January outlining plans for the market, which will allow farmers to bring in their goods and sell them to the highest bidder.
According to Minden Town Planning Board Chairman James R. Welch, the Amish Auction Committee is planning to build a 70 by 100-foot pole barn with as many as three loading docks on 16 acres of land.
Space for parking is also being taken into account, Welch said.
Committee chairman Sam Miller, an Amish farmer from Richfield Springs, told the group in January that a site on Fords Bush Road is seen as a central location for farmers in Montgomery, Otsego and Herkimer counties.
Several steps have to take place before the structure is built, according to Welch.
The town's zoning laws allow for only one principal use for a parcel, so the 16-acre plot will have to be subdivided off of the farm.
County officials have also been contacted for advice and recommendations on developing an entrance off the roadway and making sure there's adequate drainage.
The building will be a public facility, so the Amish are working with the town Code Enforcement Officer to ensure building code requirements are met, Welch said.
Farmers have been contacting Cornell Cooperative Extension of Fulton and Montgomery counties since they learned of the upcoming opportunity, CCEFM Horticulture and Agriculture Extension Educator Crystal Stewart said.
“Word is traveling fast. This is a fairly small community and I'm already getting a lot of questions from farmers," Stewart said.
The Amish have been maintaining contact with Stewart in regards both to auction and to get advice on farming their land.
Stewart said the closest Amish Auction is situated in Penn Yan in Yates County in the Fingerlakes Region.
“I can tell you that that auction is also in a fairly remote area. Last year it grossed approximately $6 million," Stewart said.
“These are fairly significant endeavors," Stewart said.
Stewart said she expects to be involved in meetings among growers to ensure efforts are coordinated for the farmers' maximum benefit.
“One of the keys to success is going to be having products consistently throughout the growing season and having a wide variety available," Stewart said.
“They're really organized and there's quite a few people on the [Amish Auction] board that have experience. I feel confident, having spoken with members of the board and other people that they're going to make this work," Stewart said.
Welch said the Minden Planning Board is waiting to review a site plan from an architect and the board is reviewing an environmental impact statement for the project.
A public hearing is expected to be scheduled as the plans progress, Welch said.