Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, we visited the Amish Acres, which is a facility started over 20 years ago, designed to document the Amish life style at a time it appeared that it could disappear from the Indiana landscape. Among other attractions, it is located on the property of an original Amish farm that was sold to the Amish Acres by the family who no longer wanted the farm. It is now the only Amish farm on the National Historic Register.
The irony is that contrary to a possible demise of the Amish, they have not only survived but have flourished to the point that nationwide they now number nearly a quarter million. This is a huge growth from their first arrival here at the invitation of William Penn, Governor of Pennsylvania over two hundred years ago with around 3700 settlers. In recent years, this growth has put pressure on their traditional agricultural lifestyle. With the typical family including as many as 8 to 10 children, not everyone can inherit or purchase new farmland. They have been forced to look to other ways to provide for their families. As a group, they have always strived to remain separate from the rest of the world around them and live a plain life. This is getting harder to continue as the world around them changes. They are now engaged in the work force of businesses like the Newmar Company and other businesses that will provide a living while still trying to maintain their core values. They have started small cottage industry income sources that seek out contact and business with the outside world. Some of the obvious things that can be seen are the use of bicycles for transportation for both men and women. While still not driving automobiles, they will hire others to drive them to work or other destinations.
Driving around the back roads of the area still shows well kept farms and scenes that could have come from over a hundred years ago.
For ourselves, we have enjoyed the home cooking and great bake goods that can be found in the Amish run businesses. So much so, that we will need to put a lot more miles on the bikes to keep up with the added calorie intake.