The early Amish (called Anabaptists) were once pioneers in agriculture, before immigrating to America during the Protestant Reformation. The Friends of Chrisholm notes:
In Europe, the Amish and Mennonites were famous for restoring fertility to soil depleted by poor farming methods. Their procedures included crop rotation, irrigation, use of natural fertilizers such as manure, and the planting of clover and alfalfa to replenish the soil. But perhaps no Mennonite farmer achieved greater distinction than did Christian Augspurger when in 1814 the French government under King Louis XVIII conferred upon him the Decoration of the Lily Flower for excellence in farming.
Even after immigrating to America, the Amish were known for their pristine farms. So, what happened? Today many Amish depend on construction, woodworking, and jobs in manufacturing to make a living and the rising cost of farmland is a factor. There are only several organic Amish farms today:
If you really stop and think about it, though, when we go out spraying our crops with pesticides, that’s really what we’re doing. It’s chemical warfare, bottom line. — Samuel Zook notes in The Atlantic.
Having grown up on an Amish farm in Michigan I can attest to my father and Amish community using fertilizers, chemicals, and pesticides in farming which is seen as a necessary evil.
A Modern Farmer article, Amish and Mennonite Farmers Are Polluting Lancaster County, points out the problem of traditional farming with horse-drawn plows tearing up soil and promoting erosion, not sustainability. The 12 design principles of permaculture include producing zero waste:
- Observe and interact.
- Catch and store energy.
- Obtain a yield.
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback.
- Use and value renewable resources and services.
- Produce no waste.
- Design from patterns to details.
- Integrate rather than segregate.
- Use small and slow solutions.
- Use and value diversity.
- Use edges and value the marginal.
- Creatively use and respond to change.
In my piece Trauma and Trump: The Rise of Amish Authoritarianism, I examine Amish historical trauma. To that point, Amish are separated by distance and time from their alpine homelands in Switzerland, France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
The word hiraeth is a Welsh concept of longing for home. Hiraeth is a word that cannot be completely translated, meaning more than solely “missing something” or “missing home.” It implies the meaning of missing a time, an era, or a person – including homesickness for what may not exist any longer. The comparable German word sehnsucht is translated as “longing”, “pining”, “yearning”, or “craving”.
Quite simply: we are a part of our alpine homelands and the generations of separation are traumatic. I recall visiting my Swiss Amish elders in Berne, Indiana as a child and hearing Switzerland discussed with tearful nostalgia.
As America and the world grapple with climate change, the Amish must be a part of the solution, from sustainable farming practices to the principles of permaculture.
Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all-access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class, and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group, and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Stock photo ID:628963194