Amish Moving To Vermont?

A recent story on Vermont Public Radio suggests Amish are starting a new community in Vermont, a state with no other Amish presence. From the article on the Orleans County town of Brownington:

At the other end of the village, Amish families are starting to move from Pennsylvania into this unlikely melting pot in the Northeast Kingdom.

And:

brownington-vermontAs you weave your way through tree-lined dirt roads, you almost expect to see a horse and buggy. These days, you just might: three Amish families have bought land in Brownington and more are expected to follow.

I spoke with a bonneted, long-skirted matriach at the farm her family, the Kauffmans, have recently bought. In line with Amish practice, she declined to be recorded or photographed. She said they drive only a horse and buggy and stitch their own clothing from pedal-operated machines. They will farm with animals and raise beef cattle.

My first thought on seeing “Vermont” and “Amish” together in a news story was: Are these Old Order Amish families? There’s not a lot of detail given in the story. Old Order Amish are sometimes confused with Old Order Mennonites or other plain groups.

But, the article writer spoke with someone from the group who presumably described herself as Amish, and the details that are provided–last name, technology–suggest as much.

This new community would plant Vermont on the Amish map, increasing the total of states where Amish can be found to 31. Maine is the only other New England state Amish call home.

Vermont a good match for the Amish?

We’ve previously discussed where Amish might settle in future, and Vermont has been mentioned as a possible location. Back in 2011, former VT resident and Why I Left The Amish author Saloma Furlong wrote the following:

When I lived there for thirty years, I always thought Vermont and the Amish belonged together. There were many family farms growing nothing but new housing developments for many years, but now that has slowed. So many barns are collapsing from not be used or maintained as the family farms are no longer being farmed. Vermonters would be very welcoming, I believe. In fact, a friend of ours was trying to attract Amish to settle into an area they were trying to preserve as agricultural land.

She also noted that Amish have made an attempt in the state before:

Back in 1976, there were two families living in Shoreham, Vermont. They were growing vegetables. The owner of the farm they were on wanted them to buy or move out after renting the farm for a year. They decided to move out, because the summer had been dry and they didn’t want to buy just yet. One family moved back to the Big Valley in PA, the other to upstate NY.

In Why Some Amish Communities Fail: Extinct Settlements, 1961-2007, David Luthy describes a community existing at Shoreham from 1977-1979, which I assume must be the one Saloma is referring to. Other than this, I cannot find mention of another settlement in the Green Mountain State.

UPDATE: It turns out that Saloma visited this community a few days ago, and wrote about the two families she met here, which she found she has some connections with. You’ll find quite a few more details in her post.

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    14 Comments

    1. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      The Amish Funeral article certainly has overshadowed this article, but both are interesting.

      Is the price of farmland expensive in Vermont? As mentioned in several sources, that could be a factor in why the Amish of any denomination has kept away from the state, or is it the geography and weather?

    2. John Amey

      Welcome

      I have long wondered why no Amish live in VT. Or NH. I will be looking into what is happening in Brownington, as soon as I can. As a life-long farmer and certainly a friend of many of the Amish ways, I tout my farm as one with ‘four tractors but a three horse attitude’. Orleans County and Vermont in general are very farmer friendly as well as organic friendly. Conventional dairy farms are in serious trouble right now and Organic Handlers are looking for milk. I sincerely hope an Amish community will become established and thrive in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Interestingly, I know a handful of Menonite farmers in the Hardwick, Vt. area, but I don’t know if this fact is coincidental.
      As I learn, facts, first hand, I will share coments here.
      Thanks for the good news,
      John Amey
      Pittsburg,
      NH

      1. Thanks for the view from NH, John, sounds like you know VT well as well. I found it very interesting to see this happening. Based on what Saloma shared in her previous comment, perhaps Vermont is an overlooked area where Amish might thrive. Hopefully this community will take hold and grow.

        Also, I want to say I was glad to learn of the area’s great nickname of Northeast Kingdom, with a name like that it has to be a beautiful area, right? 🙂

    3. Gary Counterman

      Seems A Near Perfect Fit!

      As Soloma has already reflected upon, Vermont and the Amish seem like rather a good fit! It’s surprising that settlements didn’t happen there long before now. Vermont is old fashion in the way people live, most people live closer to the land and nature there and have a greater appreciation and reverence for it. But it can also be very progressive in how people’s differences are accepted and encouraged, or at least not discouraged. I believe the Amish will do very well there, time of course will tell…, I certainly wish them the best in this venture and would love to see them on land and farms which seem custom made for their lifestyle.

    4. PLS

      Amish in Vermont?

      Not sure if there is a connection but two years ago this month I was at an event at an Amish farm in Christiana and started chatting with an OOA woman about lack of available/affordable land in Amish settled areas in PA and the need to start new settlements (which was being heavily discussed – why and how to choose new places for settlement, etc).

      I mentioned we had acquired a property near the Amish in Maine and she said that “they” had not been to Maine but had been to Vermont recently.

      Hmmmmm.

      Again, not sure if there is a connection but she was most certainly OOA and from Perry County.

      1. Interesting. In Saloma’s post that I referenced in my comment below, she writes that the Vermont settlers are from western PA, just over the Ohio border, and that they hope “to be joined by several more families” by autumn. Perhaps there are some in the Perry Co. community who are among the potential future settlers.

    5. Saloma's post on this community

      I contacted Saloma Furlong yesterday, and it turns out that she paid a visit to this community Sunday after reading the news story.

      She wrote a nice account of the visit here, looks like they’ve only been there about a month (at least one of the families, that is): http://salomafurlong.com/aboutamish/2015/07/a-visit-with-amish-in-vermont/

    6. VTanabaptist

      Been so busy on the farm havent had time to computer much. We live in Castleton, west of Rutland close to the NY line. The Byler group that has moved into the Whitehall NY, close to us said they really like VT, but issues such as outhouses and no manure spreading in winter are keeping them just over the line in NY. You have to stack manure from Dec 15 to April 1 in VT. This Byler group, 22 families, mostly dairy farmers, and i can see without a loader tractor this would be a huge task to fork into the spreader come spring, rather then one load each day all winter, which is what they do. Also one mentioned winters seem harder here then Fort Plain where they came from. There are many groups on mennonites and our Apostolic Christian Church here in VT.
      Adam

    7. Bill Rushby

      Amish at Shoreham VT in the 1970s

      I grew up across Lake Champlain i9n NYS, just north of the Shoreham area. A friend and I checked out the Amish settlement at Shoreham back in the 70s’. The settlement there was not sanctioned by their church district. The families there grew cabbage, and flooded the New York metropolitan market when they marketed their crop. Their church district did not support the initiative to settle at Shoreham, and no additional families moved in. As I recall, they were “one suspender” Amish.

      According to relatives of relatives who are dairy farmers near Vergennes (lots of Christian Reformed there), tax rates in VT are not high, but real estate is expensive, with consequent large tax obligations. Some of these folks have bought farmland across the lake in Essex County NY, but they have not moved there. NY has rather high tax rates, but the land is much less expensive; no “Vermont mystique!”

      The plain folks seem to tolerate high tax rates in NYS, (I guess) because land is no much cheaper.

    8. Bob Walker

      Welcome to the Amish

      My wife and I are the people who sold our Brownington farm to the Kauffman family. We love these people and are so happy to see what they are doing with our farm; the buildings and the land that surrounds them. We sincerely hope that they will be successful in there endeavors here in our state and are anxious to see their settlement grow.

      1. Lydia McMillan

        I am very interested in finding out if the Amish in Bownington are going to have bake sales on the weekends etc. Are they going to be selling what they make?

        1. Alcia Walker

          Amish Bake Sales

          Yes, some of the Amish who have settled in Browningotn, VT, DO have bake sales on Saturday’s in the summer. I have just been told that their raised donuts (absolutely delicious) are for sale at the Derby Village Store in Derby, VT. One of the places holding the Saturday sales is just off from route 5A a bit north of Willoughby Lake on Schoolhouse Road.

      2. Lowell, VT interest perhaps

        Hello,
        I read somewhere where the Amish may want to look in Lowell or North Troy, VT. We have land and homes on 149 acres (or 109 acres if we sell the 40 acres separately) and are interested in connecting with the Amish with the information we have for our property. We are getting older and we are ready to sell and would really like the Amish to come and look at our property. It use to be a dairy farm years ago and the barn has fallen down. It does abut a stream and a waterfall and very nice views. Please contact us if interested. Thank you. God Bless!

    9. Bobgary

      It seems that someone needs to start selling Amish people in Vermont, and then see if customers take them out of state.