Amish take part in produce auctions all across America, in places like Ethridge, TN, Leola, PA, and Hart County, KY. Don Burke takes us to one in northern Missouri today.

Two things that jumped out at me are the unusual horse-drawn haulers…and one odd vegetable in particular. See if you catch which one I mean. Over to Don!

Okay, so you read Marie Graber’s post about the Arbor House Country Inn and you’re thinking about visiting Jamesport for a couple of days. But you’re wondering just what is there to do in this small town of less than 600 people? I hope over a few posts in the near future to offer you some suggestions.

One place you should check out is the North Missouri Produce Auction. It is owned and operated by the local Amish, and is less than two-minutes from Arbor House Country Inn and from the heart of Jamesport.

The Auction Season

The Produce Auction’s normal operations run from mid-March to the end of October. There are typically two auctions scheduled each week, except for the earliest weeks of the auction year (only 1 per week), and the peak of the produce season (July and August) when there are three per week. Consignment auctions are scheduled through the off-season winter months.

Each auction offers a wide-range of items for sell, although each part of the produce year does tend to highlight certain types of items.

Before the routine auctions begin each year there are a couple of pre-season “plug auctions” (seedlings and very young plants) during the sometimes-still-frigid months of February and March.

A team of horses pulling a wagon into the plug auction in 2°F weather.

Plugs/seedlings remain popular in the early part of the regular season. Nursery-raised hanging flower baskets and bedding plants become prevalent as the temperatures rise in the spring.

Vegetables and fruits show up as the weeks progress, and are a main auction staple through much of the summer.

Who Participates?

While the Produce Auction is Amish-operated, it is certainly not just for the Amish. The auction is self-described as being primarily focused on produce grown within 100 miles, whether by commercial growers or small gardeners with surplus vegetables.

And while the Amish do appear to make up the largest portion of sellers, I’ve seen a wide range of folks there including Mennonites, German Baptist, and others – of course including many English.

Such a broad seller-base allows the Produce Auction to be a nice size – large enough to have plenty of sales action to attract buyers, yet small enough it still maintains a friendly, neighborly atmosphere.

The auction draws a number of smaller and mid-size wholesalers (local grocers, smaller chain stores), which it is primarily designed to appeal to. However, any adventurous individual is quite welcome to obtain a buyer number at the office and join in the bidding. Even my wife, on her first visit to the auction, jumped right in and bought this small lot of five pints of gooseberries.

Getting to Market

For folks like me who are not so much into buying or selling, but who more enjoy just observing Amish culture, the auction activities are a must-see. On auction morning the local countryside is often scattered with wagons and other vehicles as sellers make their way to market.

And at the auction ground there are various kinds of buggies and wagons – some which you might not see anywhere else during your visit.

Check out more of Don’s auction photos and other Amish photos on flickr. And stay tuned for another post on the annual mum and pumpkin auction.

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