Feb 112016

produce auction collage

This post is part of a series about produce auctions across the USA.  While this is not a comprehensive list, I have tried to include auctions about which I can find information.  If you know of any others, feel free to leave a note in the comments section.

New Jersey is called The Garden State for a reason, though it originally had little to do with gardening.  Coming in as one of the smaller states in the Union, there are still 5 different climates found within its borders.

There are currently 2 produce auctions found within New Jersey’s borders:

Vineland Produce Auction

1088 N Main Road

Vineland, New Jersey 08360
Phone: 856-691-0721
Fax: 856-794-2301

Email: info@vinelandproduce.com

Website: www.vinelandproduce.com

Open mid-April through late November. Auction are held Monday – Saturday at 10:45 a.m.

Tri-County Cooperative Auction Market
619 Route 33 West
Hightstown, NJ 08520
Phone: 609-448-0193

Email: Bill@tricountycoop.net


Auctions held Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays starting at 5:30 p.m.  Call to check for the opening of the auction season

There used to be a third auction, Swedesboro Auction, though I was having trouble finding detailed information. When I could not find any more information than the basics, I called the phone number listed.  Unfortunantly it had been disconnected.  So the searching continued.

The results?  The Swedesboro Auction is no longer in existence.  Instead the Former Swedesboro Auction property to be preserved as open space.

The acquisition of the Swedesboro Auction property completes an eight-year effort to save not only the last significant piece of open space in Swedesboro, but also an important part of our history that will be preserved to remind people of the important role agriculture played in Swedesboro’s past.”  -County Freeholder Robert Damminger

Having spent time on the East Coast, I know that open space can be very limited.  While I am glad to see that this will not become another developed area, I am sad at the loss of a market for both sellers and buyers.

The Landisville Produce Auction was another name I came across.  This one was a bit harder to find, as I believe the name officially is the Landisville Produce CoOp and there are no live auctions held.  An article on the Press Of Atlantic City website from 2013 gave more information.  It turns out that the Landisville Produce Auction may be the oldest in the country.  The combination of history and gardening always catches my attention.

Felix Donato owner of Landisville Produce Cooperative, the oldest agricultural coop in the nation
Feb 042016

produce auction collage

This post is part of a series about produce auctions across the USA.  While this is not a comprehensive list, I have tried to include auctions about which I can find information.  If you know of any others, feel free to leave a note in the comments section.

New York State currently has 6 produce auction sites across the state.  Most are held on Tuesdays and Fridays, though some also are held on Mondays.  You will want to check their times and days before heading out, especially early and late in the season.

Finger Lake Times wrote an article in 2013 about the Seneca Produce Auction.  It was nice to hear from those who bought and sold at this auction, as well as those who help run it.

Often we hear from the buyers at an auction, about worries concerning available produce.  Here is a look from A Farmer’s Perspective: The Talk at the Produce Auction.

Cornell University’s Extension Office has a pdf available showing the locations of produce auctions in the state of New York.  Their map may give you a better idea where the closest produce auction would be for you.

Chautauqua Produce Auction
7844 Rt. 474, Clymer, New York 14724
Phone: (716) 355-6500 or (716) 355-6391
Time: Tues. & Fri. at 10:00 am
Email: nwesterberg@stny.rr.com
Website: www.chautauquaproduceauction.com

Finger Lakes Produce Auction
3691 Route 14A, Penn Yan, New York 14527
Phone: (315) 531-8446
Time: Mon. at 10:00 am, Wed. & Fri. at 9:00 am
Website: www.fingerlakesproduceauction.com

Finger Lakes Produce Auction’s Facebook page

Genesee Valley Produce Auction
8855 Country Road 3, P.O. Box 163, Centerville, NY 14029
Phone: (585) 567-8640 (auction days from 8:30 am)
Phone: (585) 567-4312 (8-8:30 am all other days)
Time: Tues. & Fri. at 10:00 am

Mohawk Valley Produce Auction
840 Fordsbush Road
Fort Plain, New York 13339
Phone: (518) 568-3579
Time: Tues. and Fri. at 10:00 am

Orleans Produce Auction
12590 Ridge Rd., Albion, NY 14411
Phone: (585) 798-5466
Time: Mon. at 11:00 am, Tues. & Fri. at 10:00 am

Website: www.bontragerauction.com/orleans-produce-auction

Seneca Produce Auction
2033 Yerkes Road, Romulus, NY 14541
Phone: (607) 869-5470
Time: Tues. at 10:00 am, Fri. at 10:00 am

Seneca Produce Auction’s Facebook page

Sep 192015

salsa in unwiped jars

When a new gardening season approaches, I look in the pantry to see what stores of canned goods I still have remaining.  Two years ago I canned beets. A  lot of beets.  So many beets that they lasted me 2 years!  As these were pickled, I had no qualms about eating them the second year.  There have been a few things through my canning years that I have wondered about.  I use similar steps to what is talked about over at Strangers & Pilgrims On Earth, Shelf Life of Canned Goods ~ Think Before You Throw Out.  As always, if you do not feel comfortable eating the canned item, them don’t.

Simply Canning has a lot of posts I would love to read through.  Here are two that caught my eye – How to tell if your canning jar lids are new or used and The Pantry Journal: A Canning and Preserving Notebook Keeps you Organized

Robin’s directions for pickled red onions and wine jelly sound like a fun addition to any preserver’s pantry.  They are definitely not the standard item you would find in mine.  I will add these to  the list of things to try for next year, or even this winter.  Wine jelly is something that would not have to be done at a particular time due to a harvest being ready.

I love hearing about other people’s journey to becoming a canner.  Jenn, from Pint-sized Pioneering, shares a bit of her story here.  You can read more on her About page.

This year was the first time I realized that you can use mulberries.  In my mind, mulberries were always great wildlife food.  Seems I have been missing out on a berry that is widely available and found in many yards.  The recipe for mulberry preserves, here, comes from a blog that looks as if it is no longer updated.    Here is one from pickyourown.org for mulberry jam.


Sep 162015

birds eye view of garden june 2015(This post was started in June)

Saying “no” is not easy.  We grow so accustomed to our lives that it feels like there are things we just can not live without, or rather things that would not function if we were not involved.  We can not imagine not doing XYZ, because we have always done it.  Saying “no” means stepping back and taking an honest look at life, yourself and the assumptions you have made.

Things are better now than they were this past Fall/Winter, but they are still tough.  I can feel the stress start to creep in, the feeling of things being on the verge of crumbling in one big mess.  I take a deep breath and remember to just do the next thing, not to try to fix or do everything right now.

I told my MOPS group that I could not volunteer again for the upcoming year.  I loved helping in this group, but knew that my home, my kids, and my true calling came first.  Also, I was much better at getting to know new moms one-on-one, rather than as a leader.  I volunteered on the Steering Committee because I knew that I could do the job, not because it was really where I shine.  It was time for someone else to have the opportunity to step up.

I had to tell Olaf’s parents that I could not continue to watch him over the summer.  This was a bit easier, as they had more options with school being out to find other arrangements.  He still comes over some, but not several times a week.  We’ll see what the new school year brings, but I think I am going to have to continue to say “no” to this one.  With Jack being home school and beginning 1st grade, I am looking to set more of a routine than I did last semester.  Watching another kid for several morning a week really sort of limits what we can do.  This was one “no” that made me really sad, as I was doing it because I knew it was helping out a friend, not because of the money.  Jack and Olaf also get along really well and I know they miss seeing each other.

Unlike the past 8 years, I started no garden plants at home. Zilch. I was trying to keep the house above freezing.  Getting the basement picked up enough to start plants was not exactly high on the list.  I gave myself grace to buy plants this year.  You know what?  I still somehow ended up with:

  • over 10 tomato plants
  • 26 pepper plants
  • 80 onion sets
  • tons of radishes
  • 3 cabbage plants (though I don’t think they will do anything)
  • Zinnias and marigolds
  • several handfuls of green bean plants
  • a zucchini plant
  • 3 unknown vine-ing plants
  • 4 or 5 cucumbers
  • and berry bushes/plants of various varieties.

I will say that I think it worked out okay this year.

school year 2015 2016 collage

Fast forward 3 months and I am in a slightly better place.  There are still a lot of things I have stopped doing, for now, but have picked back up a few.  I am also weighing whether I want to begin doing some things again in a few months when life calms down even more, hopefully.

As it turns out, Olaf does come two half days a week.  He goes to preschool in the mornings, so Jack and I are able to get his school work done before Olaf comes.  Usually.  Sometimes we are finishing as they are walking in the door.

The house remodel/work is nearing completion.  Not fully there, but oh so close.  My husband is finally able to see what I saw in my mind when we started this adventure.  The finishing touches on the drywall should be completed next week.  Then painting, finishing electrical work and install light fixtures, install a small HVAC system for the  new room, flooring, and finally trim and doors.  Yes, I know it is still not an extremely short list, but it is all quick stuff and some can be done simultaneously.

I have continued to say “no” to the produce stand.  A few people have asked me if I was planning to do it, to which I reply, “I have thought it was time to begin it several times lately, but was reminded that it was not time just yet.”  I was doing yard work outside today when someone stopped by looking for a particular item.  I did not have what she was looking for but told her I would see if I could find someone who did.  Seems roma tomatoes were not very popular to plant with gardeners in our are this year.  In talking with her, though, I mentioned I had hot peppers (that were planted to have something in that spot besides weeds) if she wanted them.  I would give them to her just so they could be used and not wasted.  And that, Dear Readers, is the extent of me ‘selling’ produce.

I also have not canned up any items.  There have been several bags of tomato soup added to the freezer, but nothing canned.  Thanks to previous years’ efforts I am still well stocked on most items and should be able to make it through to the next canning year.  I did relent and purchase commercially made spaghetti sauce.  I think pizza sauce will be the next thing I run out of and have to go buy.

There are more areas in life which have been affected by this attitude, the feeling that I have more say in my life.  It is a nice feeling to have when the expectations of others begin to feel more important than what you know is best for your family.  It is a nice feeling to have, to be able to clear things off your plate so you have room to enjoy the what is left.

nature center lounge

When my blog took an unexpected vacation, thanks to an error in a line of code, I was left examining the roll blogging plays in my life.  I felt a loss of the memories I have shared on here these past few years, ones that I have not journaled about.  This blog was begun at a point when taking time to hand write daily events seemed too overwhelming. It also provided a mental break for me, challenging me to keep growing while also being able to share a love of mine.  Was I ready to give it up at the drop of a hat?  Should I give it up?  Why not?  What if I did?  What creative outlet could I use instead, which would be realistic at this time?

These are questions I ask myself from time to time, but never faced with such a high likelihood of it actually happening.  This time, the questions felt very real, not just something out of the air to think through and debate.  I would rather have been thinking through which library books to get for Jack, new methods to help George get the next math step, or any other of the many decisions I could have been doing at that point.  These questions, however uncomfortable I felt thinking through them, had to be examined.  I was not willing to just keep going because that is what I have been doing for the past few years.

The thankfulness and relief I felt when the customer service representative told me the code had been fixed and that all should be back to the way it was, answered for me all the questions I had been asking myself.  It was a much different feeling from the relief I felt when I realized I would not have to be staying up for a few hours several evenings one week canning spaghetti sauce.

As I continue through the next few months, finishing up the work on the house, settling in to a home school routine, and going through daily life I am going to continue evaluating things as they come up.  It is so easy to let little things get added to your plate.  Before you know it, you have no room for the things you really want.

Sep 022015

jars of yellow spaghetti sauce in canner 3

1975 was the year of a canning supply shortage – lids were not available.  You could buy jar and rings, but no lids.  They just were not to be had.  There was even a hearing before a House Small Business Subcommittee on Commodities and Services of Congress.  Seems that the year before there was a shortage of raw materials, thereby leading to not having the materials needed to make the end product.  While consumers were encouraged not to hoard, to buy only what they needed when they needed them, not all headed the encouragement, which only exacerbated the issue.  There was even a Congressman would bought up all the lids he could find in D.C. to bring back to his constituents in his North Carolina District.  (The Ford Library has a set of letters and testimony back and forth between the Special Assistant to the President for Consumer Affairs and Congressman Rose, as well as before the Subcommittee.)

In an ABC Evening News for Saturday, June 26, 1975 talked about factories that made canning lids were working 7 days a week, 24 hours a day to try and keep up. In the same news report, Vice President of Consumer Affairs for the Kerr Mfg. Corporation, Harold Metzger said people were using more canning supplies than ever before. “No conspiracy to hoard lids here.”

The news report went on to assure people there would be enough lids the next year.

Home canners bought more of the company’s production during the first quarter of this year than ever before in the 90-year history of the corporation.” – Healthy Canning, Lids For Home Canning.  (This was a very informative and educational article about the history and advancement of the canning jar lid.  It is always good to understand the equipment with which you are working.)

Seems The Great Canning Lid Shortage of 1975 also affected Canadian home canners.

Archivist Rising wrote a blog post in 2011, just after the canning jar shortage of 2009.


Aug 272015

miracle of the can

“So this, humblest little servant of your daily life, contains not just a product, but symbolizes a more abundant life for freedom loving people everywhere in the world.  This is the miracle of the can.”

Here is a great education clip from the mid 1950’s.  I dare you to look at a can the same way again after this.

Here are a few highlights from along the way:

8:45 – A look at the canneries from this time.  Not exactly an efficient process, especially having to solder on the lids.

11:40 – “How many cans you think we turn out today?”  “Oh, maybe … 600.”  And that was with 3 men working to solder the cans.  And why didn’t they hire more?  They could not find men who were trained for the job, who knew how to solder.  Seems not much has changed in the last 50+ years.  Job training was an issue then, just like it is now.

13:50 – Advancements in can making.  Yup, things have not always been like they are now, even for the simple can.

17:00 – The benefits carried over to the meat, fish, and farming industries.  Even property values were going up because farmers finally had a place to sell their increased farm yields.

17:54 – (paraphrase) “Now more people can make more money than they did using the antiquated methods of the past.”  Now one can-line, containing one person, can turn out 200,000 cans in a single day.

29:10 – “No, no, Shelly, don’t do that.  You are throwing away the best part … that is the liquid they are cooked in.  It is full of vitamins and minerals.  Throwing it away would be like … doing a chicken and throwing away the broth.”  I wonder if most people today would even view it this way, or know what she means concerning the chicken.

32:30 – I have never even heard of ‘stale’ coffee.  Oh how spoiled I am, thinking that having to make my own frappuccino coffee at home from scratch was a sort of roughing it moment.

37:00 – Was this the beginning of the downfall of the small grocery store and the reliance on grocers?  I had never even thought of how they used to buy shortening.  In a paper package?  Interesting.  Hope it was not a warm day or else you would have a huge puddle of a mess in the buggy.

38:45 – … then carrying over into the dairy industry, making reusable containers obsolete.  The down fall of the milk man?

39:20 “Thus, every new idea sets in motion a succession of ideas that expand in ever widening circles.  So the miracle of the can continues, bringing to countless supporting industries added expansion and prosperity.  To millions of people more jobs, greater security, a better way of life.  The can manufacturing industry ranks among the fist 10  indispensable industries in the world.”

Jul 142015


produce auction collage

This post in part of a series about produce auctions across the USA.  While this is not a comprehensive list, I have tried to include auctions about which I can find information.  If you know of any others, feel free to leave a note in the comments section.

Apparently I need to update the description at the top of the posts about produce auctions to include those in Canada.  Actually, the Elmira Produce Auction in Elmira, ON is the only Canadian produce auction I found.  This does not mean there are not more, only that I have not come across them yet.  🙂

Found at 7400 Reid Woods Drive in Elimra, Ontario the Elmira Produce Auction (EPAC) has varying  hours, depending on the time of the season.

Mid-April to June: Tuesdays 9am, Fridays 9am.
Mid-June to the end of September: Mondays 1pm, Wednesdays 9am, Fridays 9am.
End of September to end of October: Tuesdays 9am, Fridays 9am. November: Fridays 9am.
There may even be some winter sales, but I am not for sure on that fact, so you will want to call to check it out.

For more information, their phone number is (519) 669-3884.

A Trip to the Elmira Produce Auction

Elmira produce auction links farmers to retailers

How Mennonites Are Modernizing a Local Food Economy

The Elmira Auction – A win-win producers and sellers of local produce


Jul 082015

produce auction collage

This post in part of a series about produce auctions across the USA.  While this is not a comprehensive list, I have tried to include auctions about which I can find information.  If you know of any others, feel free to leave a note in the comments section.

Arthur Produce Auction

The Arthur Produce Auction can be found off of Route 133, at 354 N CR 100E, Arthur, IL 61911.  Produce auctions are held every Tuesday and Friday starting at 10 am.  The first auction is typically held the Tuesday before the first Friday in May.

The tree auction held the first Friday of May.

In April and May you will find flowers and other early season plants and produce.  As the season progresses there will be berries, apples, peaches, peppers, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and other produce.  In September and October pumpkins, gourds, and mums will make an appearance.  The auction runs through about the end of October, or when there is no more produce.

Most of the produce found at this auction is freshly picked, often from that morning or the day before.  There may be some out of area items, though they are always noted as such.  The same is said for any items that may have been cooled, though those are few in number.

217-543-5100 is the phone number for their voicemail, which also gives the phone number for the produce manager.  To hear the market report, auction schedule and other information call 712-432-8514

Arthur Produce Auction Hauling Produce In Part One

Arthur Produce Auction Selling Produce Part Two

Arthur Produce Auction Hauling Produce Out Part Three


Central Illinois Produce Auction

Located at 875 N 1400 St, Shobonier, IL 62885-4141 outside of Vandalia.  Auctions are held every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m.  The voicemail for the Central Illinois Produce Auction is 618-846-3001.  Call 712-432-8599 for additional information.

The first auction of the 2015 season was on April 24  10 a.m.



May 012015

produce auction collage

This post in part of a series about produce auctions across the USA.  While this is not a comprehensive list, I have tried to include auctions about which I can find information.  If you know of any others, feel free to leave a note in the comments section.

Cedar Valley Produce Auction – according to their brochure, the first auction this year is April 17th.  Auctions are held on Mondays at 4 PM, and Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 AM.  Cedar Valley Produce Auction is located at 18072 Addison Ave, Elma, IA 50628.  This is in the northern part of the state, near Minnesota.

From their website:

“In 2001 a group of farmers built the Cedar Valley Produce Auction by the town of Elma in northeast Iowa, and in the following years it has grown and now sells over $3 million annually! Selling flowers in the spring and then produce in the summer. All produce and flowers are grown locally and sold at the auction. … The auction also supplies local produce it wholesale prices. In the spring the Auction sells flowers in flats, and hanging baskets and mid summer changes over to sell fresh produce.”

 Sara, at Learning The Frugal Life, shares her experience going to a local produce auction in Iowa for the first time.  I love hearing other’s experiences and how other auctions are run.

Southern Iowa Produce Auctionis located in the southeast  portion of the state at 19141 Ice Avenue, Bloomfield, IA. Their first auction for the 2015 Season was Friday, April 10, followed by a second auction on April 17.  After the first two auction, they moved to twice weekly auctions through mid-July, on Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 AM.  For a market report or schedule information, call 712-432-8593.

Curving Back has a great post with lots of pictures if you are wanting to see a photo representation of this auction.

Lamoni Produce Auction/Farmsong Produce Auction, located at 16340 Farm Song Road, has produce auctions every Tuesday and Friday at 10 am.  In July they change to having three auctions – Monday at 4 PM and the Wednesday and Friday auctions at 10 AM.  In September they change  back to twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Located in south central  Iowa, they are right on the boarder with Missouri and would be a convenient stop for those living in either state.

Apr 072015

produce auction collage

You can not do it all.

Maybe that is not exactly accurate.  Perhaps it should say that “Usually every gardener can not grow everything all the time”, or even “Most gardeners do not want to grow everything all the time.”  For various reasons, most gardens contain a few key things or a variety of things along a theme.

Growing up, my mom had a fairly large garden.  Even there, she did not grow everything.  Melons did not do well in their soil, so those were never grown.  Berries, while room for them, were not found in the garden or anywhere in our yard.  I am not sure if this is because it was not something we ate a lot of or due to lack of time.  Blackberries could be found wild and were always a nice treat.

One of my first gardens was found in a community garden, about 20 minutes from my work, in the opposite direction from my house, on a large plot that had not been planted for a few years.  (Read, “weeds”.)  To help make use of space on the back half, and to cut down on weeding, I planted watermelons among the corn.  I also tried an heirloom variety of tomato … {gasp} it was not red.  🙂

I learned that this was not only way too large of a plot for me, but also there was a lot of sun and lack of water.  It did not help that the area was entering a drought.  None of my beets or onions grew.  The tomatoes turned out a very low harvest, the cucumbers were eaten by something, and the corn did not produce anything.  I was surprised by some watermelons that were hidden away.  What did abound were weeds, weeds, and more weeds.  At one point I gave up on weeding half the plot and focused on being able to get to the tomato plants.

Then we moved.

After having put so much work into a garden plot that really did not return much for all the effort, I was not ready to do a large garden again.  It was about this time that I first heard of raised beds and was learning more about them.  If this method did not turn out, I was ready to give up on gardening.  Yup.  You read that right.  Not only had the community garden been a trial, but my very first garden had been literally eaten by a dog.  Not kidding.  I was starting to feel like it just was not meant to be.

View of raised garden bed boxes before redo

So, I set out to build a two 4.5 feet square raised garden beds.  I was not going to try and grow everything, mainly the things we loved.  Tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce and beets.  While the beets did not turn out, and I would later go on to figure out growing onions, the result was enough to encourage me to keep trying.

Additionally, I began to look for other sources of produce that would not break the bank.  A few things appeared, one of which was a local produce auction.  At first, I was not sure I had understood the person correctly, as I was actually eavesdropping on a conversation.  Was there really such a thing as an auction where they sold produce?  Turns out, there was and I have never looked back, though at times I have questioned my sanity.  🙂

I no longer have to worry about having a large garden to grow all the beets we need for a year.  I can usually get it at a very reasonable price, if I am willing to wait.  The same goes for tomatoes.  Toward the height of tomato season, I can usually find 25 lb boxes for under $5 each. That is $.20 per lb if you were not sure of the math.  At that price it is almost cheaper not to grow them.

A produce auction is exactly what it sounds like – selling of produce (and plants) in the method of an auction, where the price is set by the consumer through a system of bidding.  The set up is usually aimed at wholesalers, but the public is welcome to participate.  Be aware, though, that this means you will end up buying in bulk.  If you are looking for 5 lbs of tomatoes and 2 lbs of green beans, this is NOT your place.  Plan on getting more along the lines of 60-75 lbs of tomatoes, 2-3 bushels of beans/peppers, and 36 pints of berries.  Or you might come home with 5-10 hanging baskets of flowers.

The good thing is that you can go in with a group of others so that you do not have to handle all the produce yourself, unless you need or want that much.  Alternatively, you could buy what you want an ‘gift’ the rest to others as you drive home.  Who wouldn’t love to arrive home to a bag of excess garden produce that contains more than zucchini?

Over time you may also get to know some of the other buyers and may ask if they will add a box to their purchase, then you pay them back for that box.  There have been times where I bought a lot (perhaps a bin of pumpkins or 3-4 boxes of something) for a good price, knowing that I really did not need all of it.  Afterwards others would come up and ask if I would be willing to sell x amount to them.  Usually I am, so it never hurts to ask.  Just know, there are certain buyers who never are willing to sell what they bought.  They really do need all that they bid on.  So, pay attention to those who are there and get a feel for who may be more approachable.  If I am not willing to sell, I try to direct them to someone else who might be.

tomato transplants from auction

Depending on the source you find, there are between 43 and 47 produce auctions across the USA.  According to the “What is a Produce Auction” slide show on the University of Missori’s AGEBB , there are about 45 produce auctions across the United States. Most of the ones I have found are located in the Midwest and a few neighboring states to the East.  These run on various days, usually during harvest season, but not always.  Some charge a fee for the buyer number, while others do not.  Make sure you go a few minutes early, 10-15 at least, your first time so you can ask question.

The majority of items at the auctions are local, meaning grown or from a source within 100 miles.  If they are brought in from further, it is noted either on the tag, the box, or by the auctioneer.

Many of the auction will be starting in the upcoming weeks.  I thought this would be a good time to gather together a list of as many of them as I could find.  If you live near one, you may be interested in checking it out.  A friend of mine even visited one while on vacation in a different state.  You never know what you will find.


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