5 Tips for Shopping at a Produce Auction

Your Guide to Produce Auctions

You know we love preserving food. We love putting up jars and jars of fruits and veggies on the shelf. A produce auction is a great way to get local produce from local farmers in bulk and usually for an awesome price! 

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on mastering the art of produce auction shopping! Whether you’re a seasoned bidder or a curious newcomer, this blog is your roadmap to navigating the exciting world of agricultural auctions. We understand that getting the best deals on fresh, locally grown produce requires a blend of strategy, knowledge, and a dash of adventure. 

Our aim is to equip you with the tools you need to approach these auctions with confidence and finesse.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of produce auctions – from understanding the unique atmosphere of the auction to deciphering the language of the auctioneer. We’ll provide you with insider tips on evaluating the quality of the produce, recognizing the optimal times to bid, and even how to strategize your budget effectively. 

Whether you’re seeking to stock your pantry with vibrant, farm-fresh ingredients or you’re on a quest for the most cost-effective ways to support local growers, we’ve got your back.

Join us on this journey as we unravel the secrets of securing the freshest deals and building connections within your local agricultural community. From uncovering hidden gems to learning how to make informed decisions in the heat of the auction, our blog will empower you to emerge as a seasoned auction shopper. 

Get ready to dive in, level up your shopping skills, and discover the joys of bringing home the finest produce at unbeatable prices – all while immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere of the produce auction.

Finding a Local Produce Auction

The obvious answer is: Google. 

Start by Googling “produce auction <your town, state>” and see what comes up. Some auctions have a website with a lot of details, some will send texts with what’s coming up the following day. If you can’t find much info online, give them a call. 

Here are the questions to ask: 

1. What days do you operate? 

2. What time are the auctions? 

3. What info do I need to provide to get a number? 

4. What form of payment do you take? If you’re going to be out state, ask if they’ll take an out of state check. 

5. How long does a typical auction last? 

Getting the answers to these questions will help you be as prepared as you can be for the auction. You’ll go in with confidence and know what to expect. 


Assorted fresh produce neatly arranged on the produce auction floor, showcasing a vibrant array of colors and textures. Boxes and crates filled with ripe fruits and vegetables, ready for bidding and sale. A dynamic scene capturing the essence of a bustling produce auction, where nature's bounty awaits new owners.

5 Tips for Shopping a Produce Auction

You’ve found your produce auction that you want to try. You know when to go, what time, and how to pay. Now what? Here are our top 5 tips for having a fun and successful day at the produce auction!

1. Do Your Research: Familiarize yourself with the types of produce typically available, their seasonal availability, and their market prices. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions and avoid overpaying. For instance, we have 2 produce auctions within 30ish minutes of us. The one is all local by local farmers with maybe 10 docks. It takes about an hour to complete even in the height of the season. 

The other is gigantic. It has about 100 docks, there are refrigerated box trucks from New York and all over who buy boxes and boxes of produce, and there is a fair amount that is shipped in around the country. If you’re new to auctions, we highly recommend starting with a smaller one to familiarize yourself with the process. 

2. Arrive Early: Arriving early gives you the opportunity to inspect the produce on display, assess its quality, and plan your bidding strategy accordingly. This will also allow you to get a bidder number, chat with the staff/auctioneer if you have questions, and to decide what you want to take home. 

3. Set a Budget: Determine your budget before entering the auction. It can get super intense (and exciting) when you’re in a bidding war with other auction comers. 

4. Quality Assessment: Inspect the produce closely for freshness, size, and any defects. Quality can greatly impact the resale or consumption value of your purchases. We LOVE buying seconds, especially when we know we’ll have time to process it that day or the next day. Some of our fave seconds are peaches and strawberries because they can easily be frozen for smoothies or even canned. 

5. Build Relationships: Interact with fellow bidders and sellers. Establishing relationships can provide insights into the market, potential buying partners, and can help you assimilate into the local buying and farming community. 

Remember, practice makes perfect. With time, you’ll become more attuned to the auction dynamics and better at spotting great deals. Happy bidding!

A diverse selection of fresh and vibrant produce spread across the auction floor, awaiting potential buyers. Boxes and crates hold an assortment of fruits and vegetables, ripe and ready for purchase. The scene captures the bustling energy of the produce auction, where quality goods are prepared for resale or preservation at appealing prices.

What do you do with all that produce?

We personally LOVE bringing home boxes of produce to stock our shelves. We love having a well stocked pantry, and getting great deals at the produce auction on local produce that supports farmers is even better. 

You can’t grow everything yourself, so having options like a produce auction close to home, is so nice. 

If you’re looking for inspiration for your next produce auction buys, check out our YouTube channel. We have videos on how to preserve all kinds of great things, like juice, pickled veggies, and whole fruit. 

You can also resell your finds. If you have a farm store, roadside stand, or just have some friends that want great produce locally grown at great prices, you can make money off of your finds. Everyone wins in this scenario. The farmer gets paid, the auction gets paid, you get paid, and your buyers get great produce at great prices. 

Why Should I Buy Locally Grown Produce?

Buying locally grown produce offers a multitude of benefits that extend beyond just the quality of the food. Here are several reasons why you should consider purchasing locally grown produce: 


1. Freshness and Flavor: Local produce is often harvested at its peak ripeness, ensuring superior flavor, texture, and nutritional value compared to items that have been transported long distances.


2. Supporting Local Economy: Buying from local farmers keeps money within your community, supporting local businesses, livelihoods, and contributing to the local economy’s growth.


3. Reduced Environmental Impact: Locally sourced food has a lower carbon footprint since it requires shorter transportation distances, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.


4. Preservation of Farmland: Supporting local agriculture helps maintain green spaces and preserves farmland, preventing urban sprawl and supporting sustainable land use.


5. Variety and Seasonality: Local produce is often diverse and reflects the changing seasons, encouraging a more varied and nutrient-rich diet.


6. Transparency and Accountability: You can often directly interact with local farmers, gaining insight into their farming practices, food handling, and animal welfare standards.


8. Community Connection: Purchasing locally fosters a sense of community and connection between consumers and producers, strengthening local relationships.


9. Food Safety: Smaller scale local farms may have more manageable food safety systems, leading to increased accountability and potentially safer food.


10. Promotion of Biodiversity: Supporting local farmers may encourage the growth of heirloom and unique varieties, contributing to agricultural biodiversity.


11. Cultural Preservation: Local foods often reflect regional culinary traditions and can help preserve local food heritage.


12. Reduced Packaging and Waste: Locally sourced foods can sometimes come with less packaging and reduced waste, contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle.


Overall, buying locally grown produce is a win-win situation: you get fresh, flavorful food while contributing positively to your community, the environment, and even your own well-being.

If you’re local to us in Mifflin County, this is our FAVORITE produce auction! It’s low key, supports local farmers, and supports our local economy! 

Hope to see you there! 

Share this post