Authored by Allan Stein via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
Among the historic Amish settlements in southeastern Pennsylvania, faith, fidelity, and long days working in green fields are the root of traditional farming.
Together, they support and nourish a community and culture steeped in biblical teachings.
In Lancaster County, west of Philadelphia, the Amish hold fast with many of the old ways. Their primary means of getting around is still horse and buggy, and they use herbal remedies for many common ailments.
The Amish of Lancaster County are also a humble and private people (many Amish do not like having their photograph taken or name publicized). Shunning pride and vanity, they experience a particular joy and satisfaction in living close to the earth, free of the stress and pressures of outside worldly entanglements.
Many Amish still speak a German dialect called “Pennsylvania Dutch,” living and conducting themselves in an uncomplicated manner.
Traditional clothing—long dresses, aprons, and bonnets for women; trousers, shirts, jackets, and hats for men—distinguishes them from the world of “the English,” the term used to denote non-Amish.
The peaceful simplicity of Amish life has its allure and also everyday challenges and economic realities interacting with the larger society around them.
Some small multi-generational farm owners, like Jesse Lapp, try to adapt to these influences through “agri-tourism” and diversification into the trades, while still passing their wisdom and traditional farming methods down from generation to generation.
“If you don’t pass on the techniques from one generation to the next, it gets lost,” said Lapp, 44, owner of Old Windmill Farm in Ronks, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated farming community 63 miles from Philadelphia.
“Farming is not a textbook,” said the farmer, who learned how to work the land from his father, who learned it from his father and those before him.
“You learn things from your parents, from experiences, what your parents struggled with. You learn from that.”
However, strictly organic farmers in Lancaster County, like Amos Miller, are confronted with government regulations they see as hostile to Christian values and personal choices in producing food.
Today, Miller, 45, is at the center of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) lawsuit accusing him of violating federal food safety laws.
There have been financial penalties and threats of jail time over selling non-federally inspected and “erroneously labeled” milk and meat at Miller’s Organic Farm of Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania.
Miller views the case as government overreaches targeting small organic farms to regulate them out of existence.
“There are many farmers that would like to continue to be farmers,” Miller told The Epoch Times.
“It’s in our culture. We love farming. But the food system is so monopolized and regulated that we can’t be true farmers. You can’t make a living on the farm.”
The Amish in the United States consists of four primary groups: Beachy Amish, Amish Mennonites, New Order, and Old Order Amish whose forebears fled religious persecution in Europe during the early 18th century. They have different views regarding the use of modern technology.
“The Amish do not consider technology evil in itself, but they believe that technology if left untamed will undermine worthy traditions and accelerate assimilation into the surrounding society,” according to the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College on its Amish Studies website.
“Mass media technology, in particular, they fear, would introduce foreign values into their culture. By bringing greater mobility, cars would pull the community apart, eroding local ties.
“Horse-and-buggy transportation keeps the community anchored in its local geographical base.”
As a population, the Amish are among the fastest-growing in America, with more than 300,000 located in 32 states. More than 60 percent of the Amish live in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana in local congregations called church districts.
In Lancaster County, the Amish population is approximately 45,000 adults and children.
Old Windmill is a fourth-generation family farm on 65 acres, raising about a dozen head of cattle, pigs, goats, chickens, and horses and mules. The owner said he decided to expand into agri-tourism to supplement cash flow.
“Bigger farms is the way to make a living,” the owner told The Epoch Times. “Everything is mass produced. When my grandfather was farming, they had a chicken house. They had some eggs to sell. They had a tobacco barn right here.”
He said Old Windmill Farm left dairy farming as it became more labor intense and costly. His crops include rye, corn, alfalfa, and soybeans, rotating with the seasons. He uses an old hay baler drawn by four mules, a hay rake, and other gasoline-driven engines.
“We don’t have modern machines; we have machines manufactured maybe in the 50s. Some are antique machines as well,” he said.
A local metal fabricator makes parts to repair the machines when they break down.
“There are diversified farms” using more modern tools, the owner said. “We’re sort of die-hard” using older technology.
A typical day at Old Windmill Farm begins at dawn when the lights go on, and the roosters start crowing.
“If you’re a farmer in the Amish community, you get up around 4:30 or quarter of five,” he said.
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