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Winter wonder - local produce blooms through greenhouses
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 02/12/2024

Consumers crave fresh, local produce year-round, and Mid-Atlantic and Northeast growers are responding by extending their seasons with greenhouses and high tunnels. This creates a growing need for winter markets, and auctions are stepping up to fill the gap.

The Oxford Produce Auction in Pennsylvania pioneered winter sales in 2019, initially offering just two rows of produce. Today, it boasts weekly auctions featuring a diverse selection from over 75 growers, attracting buyers from as far as New York City.

The success of Oxford has inspired others. Weaverland Produce Auction plans to join the winter market next year, and Leola Produce Auction's expansion may include winter sales.

Greenhouses and high tunnels allow farmers to control temperature and sunlight, enabling them to grow crops like tomatoes even in cloudy winter months. This, coupled with consumer demand for local produce, is driving the growth of winter auctions.

Lancaster County farmers like Sunrise Acres Produce, HB Farm, and Sauder Farm are already supplying winter produce through farm stands, direct sales, and the Oxford Auction.

Auctioneer David Longenecker, who took a chance on winter sales in 2019, is thrilled with the results. "Our winter auction is thriving and attracting new participants," he says. "More summer auctions offering winter sales would give this exciting trend a big boost."

This shift highlights the growing popularity of local, seasonal produce and the innovative ways farmers and markets are adapting to meet consumer demand, even in traditionally off-season months.


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