Farming in Amish Country
Though Amish society has changed over time, many Amish still live off the soil, growing crops and tending livestock in many communities. The Amish family farm is still an important place to raise children, teach values, and make a living. Read on for answers to common questions on the Amish and agriculture.
- Why do Amish revere farming?
- Do all Amish like farming?
- Why are fewer Amish farming?
- Is Amish-grown food organic?
- Do Amish farmers use pesticides?
- Are the Amish “green”?
- Why do some Amish raise tobacco?
Why do Amish think so highly of agriculture?
Farming is often revered as the “best occupation” for a family, even though farmers are in the minority in many communities today. Agriculture is a way that fathers can remain at home and work together closely with the family, rather than leave home daily to a factory or manufacturing job.
Do all Amish like farming?
No. In fact, some Amish greatly dislike farming. Thankfully, not all Amish have to farm. Many go into any of a variety of businesses or work for non-Amish employers in factories and other jobs.
Why are there fewer Amish farms?
While the total number of farmers has perhaps increased, the percentage of the Amish population in agriculture has certainly decreased over the past few decades.
Reasons include farmland becoming too expensive or scarce, large families making providing farms for all sons (a traditional practice) difficult, and the popularity and development of various businesses among the Amish, including construction, woodworking, and manufacturing.
Some Amish have started low-acreage, intensive produce farms as an alternative to the traditional dairy. Others raise a variety of animals, including poultry, deer, and hogs. Of course, gardening remains a mainstay for nearly all Amish families, regardless of their main occupations. Read more.
Do all Amish farmers grow organic food?
No. In fact, most foods raised by the Amish are actually not organic. This often surprises outsiders. However, organic farming, while it has taken hold in recent years in some communities, is not the way Amish have traditionally farmed.
Do Amish farmers use pesticides?
Yes. Most Amish farms are conventional operations, meaning pesticides and fertilizers are used.
Is Amish agriculture “green”?
While some Amish farming practices may align with trends and beliefs seen in today’s “green” movement, most Amish are not primarily motivated to farm the way they do due to overriding environmental concerns or a desire to “save the planet”.
Additionally, most Amish farms are not organic, though organic farming is a growing niche practice among Amish, in part due to financial reasons.
Why do some Amish farmers raise tobacco?
Most Amish farmers don’t raise tobacco. However, some Amish, particularly in Lancaster County and related settlements, have a tradition of tobacco cultivation.
Tobacco is a cash crop which can help pay for expensive farmland. One Amish tobacco farmer says stripping and sorting the tobacco leaves provides a valuable family activity in the fall. Not all Amish agree with tobacco farming.
- Kraybill, Donald B, and Steven M. Nolt. Amish Enterprise: From Plows to Profits (2nd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.
- Kline, David. Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal. Wooster, Ohio: Wooster Book Company, 2001.
- Kline, David. Scratching the Woodchuck: Nature on an Amish Farm. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999.
- Kraybill, Donald B., Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven M. Nolt. The Amish. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.
- Olshan, Marc A. “Amish Cottage Industries as Trojan Horse.” The Amish Struggle with Modernity. Kraybill, Donald B., and Marc A. Olshan, eds. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1994.
To Cite this Page: Wesner, Erik J. “Farming.” Amish America. Erik Wesner, 29 Jan. 2015. Web. [Date Accessed]. <https://amishamerica.com/farming/>.
Images: Plowing- Ed C.