Populations Of Amish People And What Makes Them Choose Certain Areas To Inhabit
If you are like me and have seen many different Amish related T.V. shows, Movies, and Internet Sites featuring the Amish and their communities, it always makes me wonder where are all these large Amish communities located and why did they settled there? Now we all know that most Amish families are farm families, but why did they pick the farming lands of the United States that they did. Also, possibly in the future will we see more Amish communities spring up!!! If your like me and find the Amish interesting, and wonder why they make some of the choices on locations they do to set up their communities, then this blog post is for you. The Crockett Cooner is here again at The Amish Of Ethridge. I've looked into why the Amish people have chosen the locations they have to set up their homesteads and, I walked away with some information to get your buggy wheels turning...
The Amish Buying Farm Land Based On New Communities
As most people know many different Amish communities are based around farming and the land that makes up those farms. In the United States there are many different Amish communities some small and many communities are very large. A few of the major Amish settlements are located in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee but not all of them. In fact, the Amish are found in many different states. For a quick look at some numbers about populations of Amish communities, here is a link to the different Amish settlements by population, Amish By Population. Unfortunately in the United States remote areas for future farming are becoming more populated with people instead of farms, and transformed into urban areas. So the amount of good farm land used for crops is getting hard to find and even harder to purchase.
But, how do the Amish find new lands to establish new communities, and why do they choose the lands they do? The Amish choose the areas they do many times because of the size of farm land available to purchase. But, there are a list of other factors that come into play when purchasing a large farm for the Amish, some of these issues are.
Points The Amish Look For When Buying New Farm Land
- The ability for one Amish family to expand its own personal land by buying other tacks of land close to the originally purchased farm.
- The availability for additional Amish settlers to move and buy in close proximity to established Amish farms, to ensure growth of new Amish settlements.
- The make up of the soil to ensure good crop growth.
- The natural resources found on the future farms such as wood, open range for pasture, and water for live stock and personal use.
- The regulations and laws on homeschooling for children, in the particular state.
These above factors are especially important for a group of Amish families seeking relocation in a new area, that are intent on setting up a new Amish settlement. In many established large Amish communities such as in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, farms stay in Amish families for generations passed down from father to son or is sold to other family members or just members of the Amish communities to ensure the Amish way of life is maintained. After all the Amish community in Pennsylvania was established in the 1720's, and is still thriving to this day.
Types Of Soil Amish Farmers Might Look For And Why When Establishing A New Community
Now keep in mind that most, but not all Amish communities do their fair amount of Subsistence farming and a lot of Cooperative farming and some Commercial farming. But, don't be fooled just because some Amish communities don't have major commercial farms does not mean that the Amish farms can not also support many of us "English" in different ways such as sales in vegetables and wooden products. When the Amish decide to expand their community and are in need of buying a new farm in a new area, soil type will play a major factor. In general there are about 6 different types of soil types found in the United States the Amish farmers have to choses from to farm. Those soil types are Clay, Sandy, Silty, Peaty, Chalky, and Loam but all of these soils have their own pro's and con's when it comes to farming, and many soil types are mixed together and require an Amish farmer that knows their way around soil amendments.
The Clay soils have down falls such as it can be hard to till especially for many sects of Amish that use horse drawn equipment!!! The Clay soil also is extremely bad at draining water but, works extremely well at retaining water. Now depending on the type crops the particular new Amish settlement is intent on producing. Soils such as clay would be very helpful if the new Amish community want to start a greenhouse business growing, using, and selling things like Broccoli, Beans, Potatoes, Cabbage, and Blue Berries if enough compost and organic material can be amended to the soil. Another great factor about clay soil is it will hold nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and potassium once it is add to the soil because of Clays binding abilities. Red Clay soil is found mainly in the Southern United States. Now with Amish communities that are relatively new such as the ones found in North Carolina and Mississippi that plan on growing field crops and vegetables for personals use and sale. The addition of things such as lime to increase the pH and ensure large yields is now a problem for the new Amish community to tackle. Keep in mind that the Amish usually use all natural fertilizers they produce with their own livestock, and use it when enhancing's their soils.
When it comes to Sandy soil there are many benefits new Amish communities might look for. With using Sandy soils unlike clay, the Sandy soil will not pack together once it dries from rainfall, and dries much quicker than clay. The Sandy soil or a mix of soils with large amounts of Sand in the soil works much better for Amish communities that use horse drawn equipment because of its easy in cultivating abilities. Also, when adding amendments like fertilizers and compost to the soil. Sandy soil is much more willing to except these add ins because of its granular properties and ease of cultivation. The Sandy soils would be very useful for flowering plants but, this might rule out many Amish communities due to their religious beliefs on vanity.
When it comes to Silty soil this is where many Amish communities will truly hit "pay dirt" in their abilities to grow crop such as Wheat, Soybean, Corn, Pecans, Watermelons and Rye. With Silty soil it can be hard for Amish communities that use horse drawn equipment to farm because of the properties that make up the content of the ground. Silty soil has a great ability to retain water, but also to give air to the roots of any crop grown in silt. Silty soil is usually found in states such as Oklahoma, as a matter of fact Port Silt Loam is the official soil of Oklahoma. That in turn explains the first Old Order Amish settlements that was located in Oklahoma. The Old Order Amish community was first founded close to Thomas located in Custer County in Oklahoma around the late 1800's to the early 1900's. Sadly to say the first Old Order Amish community in Thomas dissolved, but many of its members relocated else where in different areas of Oklahoma and still live there to this day. Forming different sectors of the Amish religion in Oklahoma. The Beachy Amish is a great example of an Amish community in Oklahoma that split from the Old Order Amish community and can still be found in Oklahoma. But, the Beachy Amish have decided to use more modern equipment to farm Silty soil like that of Oklahoma.
Peaty soil are another soil especially used when growing certain crops like celery, lettuce, and peas. Peaty soil is usually found in very low lying areas that retain lots of rainfall and do not drain well, which you might think would be bad for crops. Examples of Peaty soil found in the world is in the plains lands of Canada, Asia's tropical climates, and India. Often times because of Peaty rainfall retention. Peaty soil is usually found in marshlands and not used for farming but ratter soils additions that can be purchased for potting plants at home and flower gardening. Because of Peaty soil being found in marshlands most would think that marsh lands are a total loss when farmed. This how ever is incorrect if proper drainage is given to the land and cover crops are planted to basically keep the peaty soil from sufferings erosion. Land with Peaty soil can be used for farming, but the factor of the pH is always going to be a major concern. Peaty soil many times will be considered very Acidic with low natural levels of fertility. Usually correcting this pH difference would be a must for any Amish farmer . But, due to Peaty soils scarcity and high compressibility vs low sustainably, not many Amish community new or old in the United States, are located around this type of soil.
In Chalky soil the "chalk" is made by the formation of many deposits of tiny shells. A great place to look for this type of soil would be in California around the part of the state that produces wine. Usually when it comes to Chalky soil the pH of the soil is very alkaline, because the soil was formed by matter or shells that where originally in the ocean and water ways. When the water reseeds from those areas the tiny shells left and are compressed over time. Then after the compression has occurred and erosion has taken place the Chalky soil is formed and exposed . This type of soil would be great for a new Amish community that wanted to grow such things as grape vines, vining plants such as Virginia creeper, or trees such as certain pines. Overall plants and trees that enjoy a soil that drains quickly. Now not many Amish communities in the United States are found on the west coast especially around wine county due to the fact that Chalky soil will not support vegetables that the Amish communities grow for personal use and sale to the public.
I've saved the best for last, Loam soil. Many Amish communities new and old are found around areas that have Loam in the soil make up. Loam is found in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and downward through Kentucky and North West Tennessee. Loam soil would be the best for a new Amish settlement that wants to establish a community that is outgoing in planting gardens and crops. Loam is ideal for plants as it will hold plenty of water and will also drain allowing the plants roots to get air for growth. Loam can have the ability to be compacted during heavy rainfall and for an Amish community that uses horse drawn equipment to till compacting soil can make it difficult. But, overall loam is the best for farming and is found in many areas where older Amish settlements have been establish for years, due to its ability to sustain the farming needs of the Amish community.
Natural Resources Found On Land For New Amish And Old Amish Settlements
As most everyone knows the Amish have many side businesses besides farming that require lumber like sawmills, construction/contracting, buggy builders, and woodshops that produce wood crafts such as in the sign above. So it comes as no surprise for a new Amish community to spring up natural resources are a must on the land they purchase for a farm. Good forest with hard woods are essential for Amish communities to build homes, barns, fencing, and schools. When building most Amish buildings are constructed with hard woods like Red Oak and Poplar . The average Red Oak tree will grow about 2 feet each year for the first 18 to 20 years of its life. Depending on many factors such as soil type, rainfall, sunlight, the genes of the tree, and climate some Red Oaks will develop faster than that. A interesting side point, many English people don't know is that the Amish communities are into conservation especially when it comes to regrowth of hard wood trees to ensure the Amish way of life in wooden products!!!
Another natural resource that new Amish communities look for is water either from Well Water, Spring Water, or Grey Water for livestock . With the old order Amish, the Swartzentruber Amish their religious ideas on electric differs from most everyone else in the English world being that they DO NOT use electracy from the standard power lines or grids. Rather the Swartzentruber use power from wind, sun, or in most cases gasoline engines. So a Well Water Pump that is driven by wind or gas is how the Amish stay hydrated. In this pumping process there are many things a new settlement of Amish settlers might consider. If wind is used does the area for the new settlement have a steady wind stream? If a well is drilled for water, does the rain fall amount each year keep the ground water table high? Lastly with spring water and well water not only is water table height a big factor but how pure is the water, is there lots of Sulphur Water present!!!
When it comes to livestock one point a new Amish community or established Amish community must have is open pasture land for livestock such as horse, pigs, and cattle. When looking for new farm land, open tracks of land that have natural grasses such as Fescue, Orchard Grass, Kentucky Blue Grass, and Ryegrass would be a must. Now, there are many factors that can be discussed about grasses and the effects it has on different types of livestock with weight control and health, but I'll leave that for another blog post dedicated to just that topic. Primarily a good balance of natural grasses with out such plants as Wild Onions, Nightshades, Lupine, and Water Hemlock would be what a new settlement of Amish settlers would want to consider when setting up homesteads.
Laws Governing School And How Those Laws Effects New Amish Settlements
Children are a great concern for the Amish way of life especially when starting a new community. Many times its not hard to find an Amish family with up to 13 or more children!!! So, just like with the public school system and the English, the Amish children also need an education. Most Old Order Amish communities depending on their location in the United State will have their own schools but the Amish schools are governed by state laws. However many times the New Order Amish or Old Order Amish will attend public schools. But, for the Old Order Amish the state laws that govern school attendance for children, plays a big factor on new Amish settlement locations because of the Amish religious beliefs. A great example of education laws concerning the Amish would be here in Tennessee. The Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-3001 all children ages 6-17 are required to attend school. In the case of the Amish Schools unlike public school, the Amish school system here in Tennessee is considered parochial school, non-public school, or private school what ever you want to call it, but governed by the states laws on attendance. Under state laws such as here in Tennessee, Non-Public school must a hear to attendance policies the same as the public school system. But, many times the grade levels, curriculum, school calendar and educational requirements are achieved differently for these schools compared to that of public school system. For a quick more in depth look, here is a link with option to download for Non-Public Schools in Tennessee.
Here Is A List Of Things To Ask The Next Time You Travel Through The Amish Community And Strike Up A Conversation With An Amish Farmer.
- You should ask how long has this Amish community been around?
- You can ask did your relatives ever tell what problems they faced when establishing or moving to this Amish community?
- A important point to ask, Which Amish faith do you follow?
- If you speak with Old Order Amish Farmer, How do you power things such as well pump?
- Lastly very interesting question if your in a Big established Amish community, Are there members of this Amish community leaving to form new communities elsewise in the United States?
I hope just with these few questions you might be able to learn a little more about the Amish way of life and the problems that they face many times in society.
Sadly this blog post has come to an end I hope everyone that has taken the time to read this post will learn something about the Amish and how they look at different factors to establish new Amish settlements. Don't forget to make sure to sign up for our news letter its free and will keep you informed about what's going on here at The Amish Of Ethridge. Also please leave us a review we love to hear from our readers and gain you opinions. Make sure to check out the entire Amish Of Ethridge site and our other websites. Finally if you are looking at the old inner webs make sure to check out The Amish Of Ethridge on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Thank you all again for reading this blog, I hope you have a great day and an even better tomorrow.
Not always, many times the windmills have been replace with alternative sources to pump water such as gasoline engines and solar pumps.
Yes, many times the Amish will relocate from older established areas to new areas based on ability to make income, number of people in the community plays a factor in marriage, and available farm lands.
Not always by viewing an Amish community can you tell how old it is or what order of Amish live in that community, many times different orders of Amish will live close to each other. Overall the best policy is to ask an Amish person in that area.
Yes in many ways, many times those outside the Amish community don't think the Amish as a whole are educated people. This is incorrect in fact education at school and home plays a great part in the Amish upbringing of children.