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Old August 1, 2016   #1
Hellmanns
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Default Our Local Produce Auction

The goodies are really starting to roll in. All the produce in this line is locally grown.

Funny story from there a few years ago.. There was a whole pallet of strawberries in line to be auctioned, but were just a little on the soft side. All of the older ladies were really interested in them, but they needed to be worked up pretty fast given their condition. When they were being auctioned all of the ladies gathered 'round with interest, but an old feller just kept out bidding them and had the high bid. After the bidding was over a little old lady went up to the old feller and said, "what are you going to do with all them berries, make preserves?" Old feller replied, "call it whatever you want, but it'll eventually end up in quart jars."



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Old August 1, 2016   #2
Cole_Robbie
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Neat pics. Those are 25 pound boxes of tomatoes, right? Do you have any idea what they are going for? Just curious, thanks.
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Old August 1, 2016   #3
Hellmanns
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Neat pics. Those are 25 pound boxes of tomatoes, right? Do you have any idea what they are going for? Just curious, thanks.
Most of the grade tomatoes go into #10 boxes, lower grade and canners go into 20-25 lb. boxes. Most times.

I know this won't help, but prices are all over the board, in the same sale I've seen 10 lb. Boxes go for as much as $30, and tomatoes that are just as good go for $3 or $4 . Generally, a 20-25 lb. Box brings $8-18. and a 10lb. Box brings $7-16.

I'll pay closer attention Thurs. night, the next sale.

I have done really good there over the years, but people trust me and buy my maters with confidence. I learned years ago that there was way less work selling at an auction, compared to a farmers market. I can work full time, and still sell at the auction, where there is no way I could work and sell at a farmers market...
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Old August 1, 2016   #4
gothicgardens
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In our area we have a Amish produce auction. If you are not the first one to have a vegetable it doesn't pay to sell there. The area grocery store chains have buyers at the auction paying rock bottom prices but not passing it on to the consumers. Some prices from today No. 1 tomatoes average price of $4.50 for a 10 lb box, sweet corn average price per dozen $1.00, and green beans 1/2 bushel $4.95. Seller has to buy box or bags from the auction company plus pay 10% commission that also has to be subtracted from above prices.
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Old August 1, 2016   #5
Cole_Robbie
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Thank you both for the price information.
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Old August 1, 2016   #6
tash11
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Around here I have seen 10# box go for as low as $1-$3, but they seem to do more like $5-8 or so. Cherries seem to be about $1-2/pint, but sometimes as low as a quarter.

Now peppers can be $6-8 a peck (about 8-16 peppers depending on size) for colored ones. Superhots get up there even for just a single pint.

I haven't been yet this year but I checked the market report and this is what they have been up to recently:

peck bells 2.00- 6.00
bushel bells 1.00-8.50
peck hots 2.00- 8.00

10# tomato- 1.25- 17.00
10# green (unripe) tomato- 2.00- 9.00
10# yellow tomato- 7.00- 17.00
pint cherries .25- 1.70
½ bushel canners 1- 10.00

That's from the past week (four auctions). I am sure some of the variation was sellers bringing different quality and some was buyers.

What kind of buyers do you usually get? The auction here seems to have a mix of locals getting stuff to put up, and commercial buyers who can be split into the ones who will make things (like salsa) and ones who just go and resale at parking lot 'farmers' stands and a few from grocery stores.
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Old August 2, 2016   #7
Hellmanns
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Originally Posted by tash11 View Post
Around here I have seen 10# box go for as low as $1-$3, but they seem to do more like $5-8 or so. Cherries seem to be about $1-2/pint, but sometimes as low as a quarter.

Now peppers can be $6-8 a peck (about 8-16 peppers depending on size) for colored ones. Superhots get up there even for just a single pint.

I haven't been yet this year but I checked the market report and this is what they have been up to recently:

peck bells 2.00- 6.00
bushel bells 1.00-8.50
peck hots 2.00- 8.00

10# tomato- 1.25- 17.00
10# green (unripe) tomato- 2.00- 9.00
10# yellow tomato- 7.00- 17.00
pint cherries .25- 1.70
½ bushel canners 1- 10.00

That's from the past week (four auctions). I am sure some of the variation was sellers bringing different quality and some was buyers.

What kind of buyers do you usually get? The auction here seems to have a mix of locals getting stuff to put up, and commercial buyers who can be split into the ones who will make things (like salsa) and ones who just go and resale at parking lot 'farmers' stands and a few from grocery stores.
We have a unique produce auction, in that we auction in small quantities with the high bidder having the option to buy the whole lot. This type auction draws people who just want a single mess of something like a farmers market would.

Another funny story..
One year an Amish kid about 10 years old had cleaned his garden up and brought several items to auction, beans, corn, a few tomatoes and such. In the kids lot was a pint container that had a single tiny broccoli spear laying in the bottom of the container. Being it was August, and hot and dry, the little spear sure didn't look good. The auctioneer grabbed the container and started it out at 50 cents. Not a single bid after trying and trying to get a bid. The auctioneer then told the crowd to help the kid out, WHO will give something for the broccoli. Finally a lady bid 25 cents, then someone uped the bid to 30 cents, then .50, then .75.. .that little spear of broccoli ended up bringing $29!
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Old August 2, 2016   #8
tash11
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We have a unique produce auction, in that we auction in small quantities with the high bidder having the option to buy the whole lot. This type auction draws people who just want a single mess of something like a farmers market would.

...
The auction I go to does that too which is also part of the price variation. There are two auctioneers going at once, one in the 'small lots' and one in the 'large lots'. The small lots can be any number of pecks (rarely see 10# boxes but it's not unheard of) put up for sale and the top bidder picks how many they want, then 2nd highest bidder picks how many pecks they want (at top price) and so on. At the end the small lots auction they do table lots which is single quarts and pints and even single watermelon and cabbage and such. Eggs are up there too. The "large lots" can be a few hundred watermelon down to a couple pecks of peppers or whatever. No splits. They also allow repacks in the small lots but it has to be marked as such.



That funny about the broccoli.
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Old August 2, 2016   #9
PureHarvest
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The auction near me is no way to make a living.
25# boxes of tomatoes brought $8-10 yesterday.
1/2 bushel box of jalapenos $7
Watermelons $2.25
1/2 bushel box of yellow squash $5
Cantaloupes $1.30

I often wonder if people that want to get into the game of market growing (while looking at the pictures of tidy green rows of crops and romancing the idea of living the farm life) seriously consider volume, price and their distribution options when they decide to jump in.
Think of how many boxes of tomatoes you have to move at $10 each to NET just $1,000 by the end of the season. How many plants will that take? How much cost (including your time) goes into the production and harvesting of those plants?
I am in awe of anyone that makes a living solely by growing vegetables on a non-industrial scale.
Then there is that sweet spot where you find a production system that works for you and a distribution channel that pays you what need and more to make the money that is worth working for...

Last edited by PureHarvest; August 2, 2016 at 03:31 PM.
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Old August 2, 2016   #10
Starlight
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Thanks for posting the pictures. I've never seen a produce auction before. I don't even think we have such a thing around here. I know some produce vendors that go to market go to Atlanta to the big warehouse market and buy stuff to resell. Lots neat to see actual farmers selling stuff.

Awwwww. Cute story about the broccoli. Probably made that child's day for sure. : )
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Old August 2, 2016   #11
Hellmanns
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PureHarvest View Post
The auction near me is no way to make a living.
25# boxes of tomatoes brought $8-10 yesterday.
1/2 bushel box of jalapenos $7
Watermelons $2.25
1/2 bushel box of yellow squash $5
Cantaloupes $1.30

I often wonder if people that want to get into the game of market growing (while looking at the pictures of tidy green rows of crops and romancing the idea of living the farm life) seriously consider volume, price and their distribution options when they decide to jump in.
Think of how many boxes of tomatoes you have to move at $10 each to NET just $1,000 by the end of the season. How many plants will that take? How much cost (including your time) goes into the production and harvesting of those plants?
I am in awe of anyone that makes a living solely by growing vegetables on a non-industrial scale.
Then there is that sweet spot where you find a production system that works for you and a distribution channel that pays you what need and more to make the money that is worth working for...
I made a living growing produce, mainly tomatoes, and sold them through that auction for several years. I now play around with tomatoes, and still make more than I should compared to the fun I have doing it.

For one, if a person can't make money selling their products at going market price, they are in the wrong business. For two, if one values their products above market price they are in the wrong business. For three, if a person makes less than he spends producing a product, he needs to get a bigger truck, or learn more about the product he is producing.

When I was at my prime growing tomatoes for market, I roughly estimate that I had a return of $100 for every $10 spent, maybe more certain years.
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Old August 2, 2016   #12
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I have a friend that worked where I worked and hated it as much as I did and wanted to be with his children.
He bought a small farm and continued working for awhile.
Then he quit went home for good got a job and started using his farm to make money and feed his family.
He is now doing so well he quit the day job he had and is working full time on the farm and doing great.
He didn't know hardly anything about it and was in his 30's when he started.
He is now butchering his own hogs and cattle at home making lard and everything including a milk cow and his kids are right there learning and helping.
They grow flowers vegetables and fruit to sell and everything that place can produce.
It was his dream to do this.
One thing is for sure those kids are going to know where food comes from and what work is.

Worth
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Old August 2, 2016   #13
Hellmanns
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Originally Posted by Worth1 View Post
I have a friend that worked where I worked and hated it as much as I did and wanted to be with his children.
He bought a small farm and continued working for awhile.
Then he quit went home for good got a job and started using his farm to make money and feed his family.
He is now doing so well he quit the day job he had and is working full time on the farm and doing great.
He didn't know hardly anything about it and was in his 30's when he started.
He is now butchering his own hogs and cattle at home making lard and everything including a milk cow and his kids are right there learning and helping.
They grow flowers vegetables and fruit to sell and everything that place can produce.
It was his dream to do this.
One thing is for sure those kids are going to know where food comes from and what work is.

Worth
That is exactly what I wanted to do for my kids, and at this point, I have succeeded.

My best friend of to many years to count watched me for years. He didn't know anything about farming, or produce when we met. Now, he and his family, including grandchildren have a hugely successful produce business.

A buyer, and friend of my best friend, asked him how long he had been growing produce because he was so impressed with the abundance, and quality of his offerings. He told the guy "about 8 years now".. The guy said NO WAY you learned all this in 8 years! My friend told him he had 20 years experience before he even started. When the guy told me what my friend had told him, it nearly broke my heart.
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Old August 3, 2016   #14
Cole_Robbie
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The median income of a small farm in the US is a negative number. Most farms are used as tax shelters.
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Old August 3, 2016   #15
PureHarvest
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Not saying it doesn't small farming never works, but the current push by USDA, extensions, organizations etc to get new/young farmers in the game I think are misleading to many aspiring farmers.
It can be done, but for many, volume and distribution crush the small farmer.
Many niches are saturated and the farmer's market fad is absolutely a bubble here that will burst at some point.
The age old wisdom of finding your market first and then planning your farm production still applies. This assumes you have run crop budgets and know what it will take to hit your goals. I don't see enough emphasis on this from the entities promoting new farmers.
Lots of info on production systems/techniques and grants/programs and fluff, but little in the way of running a biz/accounting/budgets/taxes etc.
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