Waste not

The Amish of Harmony, Minnesota are putting old things to use again.  From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Jonas Hochstetler looked around at the eight abandoned greenhouses, thought of the work for a few seconds — and smiled.

Hochstetler and eight other Amish men had just traveled nearly three hours from their hometown of Harmony, Minn., to West St. Paul on Thursday morning, March 21, to begin clearing out and dismantling the greenhouses left over from Wolters Greenhouse & Garden Center, which went out of business a decade ago.

The city owns the property and greenhouses, along Bernard Street and adjacent to Harmon Park, and is allowing the Amish community to take the buildings back to Harmony, where they will be rebuilt and reused for growing organic fruits and vegetables.

No doubt this story makes news because there are Amish involved.  But also because we don’t see much of this sort of thing anymore.  It turns out both parties win:

West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller said the partnership between the city and Amish community makes sense. The city saves $30,000 in demolition and hauling costs, while Hochstetler’s community gets the greenhouses for their produce operations — free of charge.

“We have some greenhouses, but they’re quite expensive,” said Hochstetler, 53. “So if we can get these basically for labor and the trucking, that really helps.”

This brought to mind a similar story of Amish in Iowa  moving a turkey barn, by hand, to a new location a mile away.

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    1. Erin

      Great article about the Amish in my home state! What a wonderful way to reuse, recycle, and repurpose. It’s always astounded me how there are so many vacant buildings that really become an eye sore, but could easily be used by someone else.

    2. Waste not

      In my area I see or hear of Amish farmers taking down unused silos on “English” farms to be rebuilt on their farms. I love to see barns and silos on the back roads and the Amish are helping to preserve the agricultural landscape.
      Tom the back roads traveller

    3. Don Curtis

      Amish recycyling

      Mark told me that last summer the very conservative Hardin County Amish appeared at the farm behind his place and took down an old windmill that was still operational. They climbed all over the thing and dismantled it bit by bit and hauled it away on wagons. I’m sure it reappeared on an Amish farm in Hardin County, somewhere. The Amish in the Belle Center community have recycled ad relocated old barns and houss. One farmer in the community bought an old Schwann’s ice cream truck. He took the freezer compartment off of the chasis and installed it in an outbuilding as the family’s freeze. I don’t know how it’s powered. Probably has a propane powered cooling unit.

      1. Sadie

        Hardin Co. Amish

        Here I go writing again…

        Don, I didn’t realize the Hardin Co. Amish were so conservative. Are they Old Order, or part of another Amish group?

        I used to have relatives in Kenton (not Amish), but I haven’t been there since the mid-1990’s. I do remember hitching posts or rails outside some of the places downtown, though!

        I know that my great-grandma, back in the 1960’s, had a couple of friends among the then-smaller group of Amish in what, at least now, is Mt. Victory. I have heard a couple relatives say that their farms were absolutely beautiful, and amazingly well kept. But, I’ve heard from the same relatives that the women my great-grandma was friends with were all very reserved toward anyone but my great-grandma; they weren’t rude, but they came off “cold,” is what I heard; my relatives assumed the Amish women were judging them for not being Amish.

        I’ve wondered since then if maybe the women seemed reserved because they were part of a strict group of Amish who didn’t interact so much with non-Amish people, or if maybe what my family members saw as reserved and cold, was simply shyness or a cultural trait of Amish people who maybe aren’t always as “ebullient” as non-Amish people can be.

        OK I wrote too much again! I meant only to ask if the Harding Co. Amish were Old Order Amish, or belonged to another group, or if there are even different groups there now? Thank you!

        1. Sadie, happy to hear from you 🙂 The Amish in Hardin Co. are Old Order and pretty conservative.

          These posts have some more info, also in the comments sections:



          1. Sadie

            Thanks Erik! Now I have more to read (instead of writing so much lol)!

    4. Wm Justice

      Waste not

      The fellows in Randolph, MS recycled an entire abandoned school building. They recycled all sorts of materials such as bricks, roofing, lumber and concrete blocks. You can see the remains of the 1935 building all over the Amish homesteads in Randolph. All the brick walks I laid at my home are made from the 800 or so pavers I bought from them.

    5. Judy

      So good to hear news of Amish nearby. And I really loved the recycle/repurposing. Judy in MN

    6. My husband always says that the Amish are the last true entrepreneurs in America.

    7. I chuckle when I think about how “green” became the new cool fad and I am like hold on, reduce,reuse, make do or do with out has been alot of old time farmers and yes Amish/Mennonite culture mantra for many a years.. I am just glad they are still holding tight and true to that belief.. We are to have dominion over the Earth, and in that GOD expects us not to worship the creation but respect it as our home away from home… We all will be accountable for alot when we die… I believe how we treated the land and the things that are in it will be apart of that…

    8. AmyJo

      Loved this article. Reminded me of the old Quonset hut building my brother-in-law disassembled from the local “junior college” then reassembled on his farm about 10 miles away in the mid to late ’70’s. That building has been used for many things over the years – (pig) farrowing to (Christmas) tree farm/ strawberry patch operation to repair shop to storage to gathering place. More recently it is where graduation parties with a large ‘feeding’, fish fries, hog roasts take place; or maybe meat processing (from hunts and raised livestock) or fish cleaning from a great river catch. It is still the ‘repair shop’ and such, too. Mostly it is my brother-in-law’s ‘office’ where he sits by the wood stove and visits with his friends who are always stopping by when they see the smoke from the chimney. And all this – because he and my sister were a young family with four children, having a need, without much money, and were (and still are) very resourceful! I know that building was actually the barracks for an oil company (Pure Oil) who donated their office building and the barracks to the college when it was founded in the early 1960’s. The college had used it for their bookstore. Now, I don’t know whether the oil company built the building new or recycled it from somewhere else! The other interesting thing – my father came to that area because he worked for that company; that is where he met and married my mother and had three wonderful daughters! Ok, enough reminiscing (another benefit of reuse)!

      Jeannie – your comment reminded me of –

      Use it up,
      Wear it out,
      Make it do,
      Or do without!

      When I stop for a moment, I realize there really is a significant amount of ‘stuff’ I can do without! 😉

    9. Erin

      Here is another great article about an Amish community in East Central MN that is demolishing an old grandstand at the Kanabec County Fairgrounds.