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September 22, 2007

Expansion plans

Chili (pronounced 'CH-EYE-LIE') is at the southern tip of the Holmes County settlement. The hamlet itself is actually located well inside Coshocton County.  It's not much more than a few ramshackle homes at the juncture of a couple of country byways.  Leaving town, a partially-covered sign alerts drivers to the presence of horse-drawn traffic just ahead, marking the start of the world's largest Amish community.

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I sometimes wonder what this community will look like two decades from now.  With the Amish population doubling about every 20-22 years, it will be enormous.  If current trends hold, there will be around 12,000 households, close to 70,000 Amish individuals here in the year 2027. 

I would expect more of them to continue to spread into relatively less-inhabited areas south and west rather than north (avoiding the suburban development of Canton, Massilon and Wooster) or east (roomier, but likely more expensive land, being more accessible to the interstate).  Perhaps Chili will be surrounded by a dozen church districts by then.

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Some Amish here may complain of feeling cramped from time to time, but others would say they have little reason to.  With a county population of approximately 40,000, Holmes is a lot less crowded than the number two Amish settlement, that of Lancaster, a county with a population approaching half a million.

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Comments

Wow -

Its hard for me to imagine an Amish Community larger than any here in Chester/Lancaster county.

I'm curious - is the community in Chii like the communities here where many Amish farms lie next to non-Amish farms? and where many Amish houses are intermingled amongst non-Amish in some neighborhoods?

Hi Dave,

Which community do you live in where the Amish houses are intermingled with non-Amish?

Cheers,
Nevah

Hi Erik,

I have been intrigued by the Amish lifestyle. Would you happen to know of any cultural exchange programs where I may be able to live/work in the community?

Thank you for all the posts,
Nevah

Yeah it's pretty big, Dave. I believe Lancaster has had more out-migration over the past 50+ years than Holmes, due to land pressures, so factoring for that it probably would have been closer in size, or maybe even larger.

There are some English in the vicinity of the very few Amish around Chili but it is fairly sparsely populated, compared to other parts of the settlement.

Pretty much all Amish communities have houses mixed with English ones, towards the edges especially.

Nevah, that's great you want to do that. Probably the best way would be to just introduce yourself to an Amish family and ask if they would know of anyone in their community who'd done that. As far as programs go, I don't know, but I remember seeing an article at Kevin Williams' blog (Amish Cook Editor--there is a link on my site) a while back about rapper P. Diddy working on an Amish farm when younger, I believe that was through a program whose name might be in that article, if you check it out on Kevin's site.

Hi Nevah -

I live out in Chester County - but the area I was thinking of - which is close to us is in the vicinity of Intercourse, PA - where I spend quite a bit of time.

I like the idea of an exchange program as well. I would love to put my sons (who are good kids) on an amish farm for a few weeks in the summer. I'm actually going to look into the possibility of doing that.

Erik - thanks for the update!

Erik,

Thanks for the resources! Keep up the blog!

Dave,

Thank you for the information. I am sure it will be a great experience for your sons!

Cheers,
Nevah

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