Only 2.5 hours from us, Lancaster hosts a vibrant farming community. It seems like every square inch of land is put to use. Even those few homes that do not sit on a farm, boast beautiful kitchen gardens. Most obvious is corn and dairy cows, but in between the rows you see peppers and tomatoes and even some tobacco squeezed in there.
Being a farmer in Somerset County can sometimes feel a bit isolating. There are few people to turn to when you are faced with a tough decision and a very small support network. So as I drive past field after field, speckled with farmers and their children hard at work, I always feel a little tug at my heart. A part of me that longs to belong to a community such as this.
This might not seem so surprising, except that I have left out an important detail. The Amish are the keystone of the Lancaster farming community. I don’t know the exact statistics, but when you drive through the area, you are under the immediate impression that they are solely responsible for all the work you see.
Upon closer inspection, the farmers in the field are all in traditional Amish clothing. There are far more horses and buggies on the road than cars. When you walk into a store, the first language you hear is not English, but Old Dutch. And even more astonishingly, if you look out into the field, you see horses pulling plows and discs.
As a farmer, I cannot help but wonder in awe at the accomplishments of this community. Even with modern technologies, farming can be an exhausting lifestyle. How on earth these individuals accomplish what they do, without the use of many new innovations, I cannot begin to imagine. And on top of that, they are not only price competitive, but they are usually the lowest offer around.
I am no expert in the Amish community. In fact, I really cannot even begin to understand how and why they come to the decisions that they do. And I am not saying that necessarily support all of these decisions either. But as a regular visitor in their community, I have to take my hat off to them. Not only is their work ethic inspirational, but they have to be the most pleasant people with whom I have ever conducted business.