5 Secrets to Shopping at Produce Auctions and Flower Auctions.

pumpkins at an amish produce auction

Amish Produce Auctions

I love shopping at our local Amish produce auction. My parents have frequently attended plant and nursery auctions and I wanted to try my hand at this.

At first it can be intimidating, but with these tips, you can learn how to save money for your family and how to shop at a produce auction. At the end I have a list of some of the produce auctions in Pennsylvania.

Since it was summer and we all need a mental break from thinking about special education all the time….I am doing a little less special ed posting and more fun stuff–recipes, travel reviews, etc. But, my main goal for this blog is to be about special education and special needs parenting, so I was starting to feel like I was getting off track.

But we’re still regular parents, trying to raise our kids happy, healthy and saving money in the process, right? And honestly, my child with special needs enjoys going and there is much to be taught there. I’m still doing lots of special ed stuff too, don’t worry.

Last summer, I really got into gardening and shopping at produce auctions and other alternative venues to buy food. I mean, other than grocery stores. I still go there for the bulk of what we eat, but more and more trying to eat healthier and save money.

Shopping at a produce auction can be a great way to get health food at great prices. I have been meeting some of my mom friends there and have more that are interested so I thought I’d share some tips.

First Step: Find one, plan a trip.

If you don’t know of a produce auction, you have to find one (list below). You should check your state Dept of Agriculture website for starters, or ask around. You can ask at local farm stands if they buy their produce at auctions or if they sell it at auctions.

You likely will have to buy in quantities larger than what you would normally buy–so you have to have a plan for it.

If you are going out of town for the weekend, don’t buy 8 dozen ears of corn on a Friday. Don’t ask me how I know this! But I have friends who have preserving and canning parties, or evenings together with prepping for storage. If you are going to buy a lot of produce, have a plan for what to do with it. And make sure you have the time open to deal with it before it goes bad.

blanching and freezing chart
This is a blanching and freezing chart that I use.

Find a Friend and Arrive Early.

If you can find a friend or group of friends to go with you, makes it easier to buy more reasonable quantities. Also makes it more fun! I sometimes have to bring my kids, so then they have other kids to play with too.

If it’s your first time, arrive early. Take a look around. Find out where you go to get an auction number. You should confirm what forms of payment they accept.

Next, walk around and look at the items that interest you and look at the tags on the items. That should tell you how the lots are being sold. So if you see 4 cases of tomatoes on a cart, are they selling one lot of 4 cases, or 2 of 2, or 4 of 1? This will be important. I once had a guy ask me to buy 50lbs of potatoes–he was on the hook for 10 bags when he thought he was buying one!

the vegetables lined up ready for sale at the oxford produce auction
This photo was taken at the Oxford Produce Auction.

Also, see if they have a cash and carry section. If they do, that might be all you need. If I don’t have friends to go with, I often just purchase from the cash and carry and then leave.

Bid, Win and enjoy your bounty!

You should be aware, the auctioneers likely talk like….auctioneers. It takes some getting used to. Some are easier to understand than others. Some auctions have multiple going at once which can make it really hard to pay attention. Keep in mind that this is their job, and likely they want to get through this auction as quickly as possible.

So while you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, try to be a quick learner and learn from observing. I’ve seen some get irritated at newbies slowing things down. At the Oxford Produce Auction, they have always been polite, gracious and answered our questions.

pumpkins at an amish produce auction
I have paid l less than $1 each for giant pumpkins!

Have a price in mind that is your maximum, because it will move quickly. So, for example, I was looking at 8 bunches of broccoli, that was the lot. I figured I didn’t want to spend more than $10, so I bid up to about a $1 or $1.10…and then once it hit $1.50, I knew that was way over my limit so I shook my head no and backed away.

Flower Auctions

Many of the produce auctions near me also hold flower auctions. Again, this is very seasonal. In the spring they sell bulbs, mums in the fall and so on. Check the tags on the items so that you know if it is being sold by the flat or by the pot.

Obey the Produce Auction Rules

The Oxford Produce Auction has signs up asking you not to sell/resell produce on auction grounds outside of the auction. You wouldn’t do it at any other business, so don’t do it here. Respect that this is their business. (I have seen people openly reselling stuff and it’s rude!) You don’t go to a beer store and buy a case of beer and then sell it by the can in the parking lot, right? So don’t do it here either.

And in the end, it is so worth it! Here are some of my produce auction finds.

red yellow and green peppers purchased at the oxford produce auction
I paid just $3.50 for this case of peppers. It must have been 30-40 peppers!

And you can sometimes find unusual, great stuff. My friend Jen got huge pots of mums for $2 each. That same day, we split this box of carrots, just $3 each!

orange purple white heirloom carrots that were purchased at a produce auction

In closing, I can usually get a whole trunk full of produce for about $20. It’s locally grown, often chemical free and much better quality than what I find in a grocery store. But mind you, it is work. It takes a few hours to go and do it, and it takes many hours once you get home. But to have delicious, local, produce all winter long…I am willing to do the work.

Here are some local auctions you may be interested in.

Produce Auctions Near Me

Remember that these are very seasonal businesses. If it is your first time going, call or check online to make sure they are open. They may close when the season is over, or for Amish holidays.

AuctionHours
Oxford Produce Auction, LLC
200 Union School RD
Oxford, Pennsylvania 19363
610-932-2722
Tues/Thurs/Fri depending on Season, check Facebook page or call first.
Buffalo Valley Produce Auction
22 Violet Road,
Mifflinburg, Union County, PA
Sales every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
570-966-1151
Every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30 am
Kutztown Produce Auction
209 Oak Haven Road
Fleetwood, Berks County, PA

610-683-7161
Sales Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9 a.m.
Nursery sale
Leola Produce Auction
135 Brethren Church Road
Leola, Lancaster County, PA

717-656-9592
Sales Tuesday at 10 a.m
Weaverland Produce Auction
1030 Long Lane Road
New Holland, Lancaster County, PA
Sales will be Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9am each week.
ROOT’S Country Market & Auction, Inc.
705 Graystone Road
Manheim, PA 17545
Hours: Every Tuesday
April to Oct – 9 AM to 9 PM
Nov. to March – 9 AM to 8 PM
Kirkwood Produce Auction
1597 Kirkwood Rd.
Kirkwood, PA 17536
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