8 posts categorized "Florida Amish (Pinecraft)"

January 23, 2010

How do the Amish help Haiti?

Haiti amish auction florida
Amish and Mennonites have been putting on annual auctions for the benefit of Haiti for many years now.  They take place in various locations across the nation, including communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, and Illinois. 

Furniture, quilts and other items are auctioned off at these large events.  The Florida auction, held in Sarasota, is in fact taking place this weekend.  The photos you see here are from yesterday (credit to flahba; click for more on Amish in Florida).

The Ohio auction happens in Holmes County, at the auction house at Mount Hope, with a number of auctioneers working in different venues on the expansive grounds.  Lots of food too of course.  While at the Ohio auction a few years back I tried a Haitian recipe cooked by a Mennonite group that had done relief work in the country.  Rice, slightly spicy, I think there might have been bananas or plantains in there, I can't quite recall.

Amish auctioneers haiti

Amish often work closely with Mennonite Central Committee, an organization which provides aid to poverty-stricken areas around the world, as well as with the Mennonite Disaster Service.  Since Amish tend not to have formal outreach programs of their own, those Amish who wish to aid the needy further afield often channel their energies through these organizations, formally operated by their spiritual cousins.  

Donald Kraybill writes on Amish involvement with the Mennonite Central Committee in The Riddle of Amish Culture:

One year some 1,200 Amish, in a four-day period, participated in a meat canning project for refugees in Bosnia.  A mobile canner moves from area to area, utilizing local labor and donated beef.  Sometimes the Amish purchase the beef and then provide the labor for canning it.  "We could just buy the meat and send it there," said one bishop, "but there's much more satisfaction in helping to do something directly."

Haiti amish auction

Amish also frequently donate time and labor to help out in disaster-stricken areas, for example in helping to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, as well as following earlier hurricanes Hugo and Camille.

Kraybill notes:

In all of these ways, the Amish extend a hand of friendship and care beyond their ethnic borders, and in the process, they are replenishing their own pool of social capital.  For whether it is preparing for auctions, quilting for relief, packing clothes for the needy, or building homes for the homeless, they are doing it together--chattering away, telling stories, building community.  This pattern of civic service and philanthropy is much different from the lone volunteer who extends a hand on a civic project or the philanthropist who writes a check in isolation.  As they serve the needy, the Amish also build community.  

Haiti amish auction tent

I imagine this year's auctions will have a strengthened sense of purpose in the aftermath of the earthquake.  With aftershocks occurring and expected to continue, the situation in the poorest Western Hemisphere nation remains bleak. 

If you would like to make a donation to one of the organizations mentioned here, try these links to the Mennonite Central Committee, and the Mennonite Disaster Service.  Though they partner together, MDS works primarily in the US and Canada, with MCC being the lead organization for international relief.  Therefore, donations intended for Haiti would be best sent to MCC.

May 25, 2008

Southern Amish

Kentucky amish photo:  Scroonch

From Lancaster, Pennsylvania, through Ohio and Indiana and on out to other long-established settlements in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas, we tend to associate the Amish with the nation's middle latitudes.  Since their earliest years in America, the Amish have gravitated to the cooler climes of these corn and dairy regions.  However, the Amish have also had a long history of attempting to settle America's southern states--sometimes successfully, sometimes less so. 

In the early 1900s, Amish groups made numerous attempts to settle in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, and other southern locales.  During this same period, four separate communities existed in Texas, three in Virginia, and some adventurous Amish even made a go of it in North Carolina's Dismal Swamp.  And in the mid-1800s, an atypical Amish community existed in New Orleans.

Today, we find the heaviest 'southern Amish' presence in Kentucky, with around 60 church districts.  If we count the southern third of Missouri as belonging to Dixie, as many locals do, that would add significant settlements near Springfield and smaller ones scattered throughout the region's rural counties.

Heading further east and south, Tenessee clocks in at nearly a dozen church districts, according to the Young Center's Amish Studies site.  Virginia is home to a handful of one-district settlements.  North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, and Florida all contain a single district today--in North Carolina, a New Order community, and in Florida, the unique Pinecraft settlement.

Pinecraft florida amish photo: Becky Mabry
A couple of Amish America readers share some local knowledge on two of these settlements.  William says the community near his home in Mississippi, which uses steel-wheeled carriages and avoids propane and gas lights, is of the Swartzentruber affiliation. 

According to a local newspaper article, the approximately two dozen families originated from Tennessee, and came in search of affordable farmland.  A landowner made an attractive offer, and the original group moved in during an ice storm in the mid-90's.  William says that there are a few furniture businesses, but that many of the men are involved in the local lumber industry. 
Amish kentuckyphoto: Dave and Lolo

Texas seems an odd spot for the Amish.  Yet a small group is making a go of it in the southern part of the state.  Reader OldKat recently paid a visit.  Conditions in the area sound pretty rough, especially when stacked up against, say, the lush hills of the Garden Spot, aka Lancaster County. 

OldKat says that the community inhabits a flat, nearly treeless plain.  The area can experience both drought and tropical storm rainfall.  The Amish rely on drip tape irrigation to water crops and produce. 

Despite the harsh surroundings, he says that the Amish are set on expansion, making plans to purchase more land.  An entrepreneurial spirit exists in this community, with most of the dozen or so households operating some sort of home business, including beekeeping, produce farming, and horse training.  The community speaks what they refer to as 'Swabbish' or 'Swiss'.

They've also got what sounds like a bustling combination general store, tack and carriage shop.  They sell produce, shoe some of the area's many horses, and makes buggies for non-Amish as well. 

OldKat shares that these buggies even come in non-standard colors, though you'd best pay heed when ordering one in an unusual hue. 

Apparently they'll make it, but as OldKat relates with a wink, the uglier the colors you choose, the bigger the deposit they require.  And the Amish who run the place have a sense of humor.  A recent request for an orange-and-white contraption supposedly required special conditions.  "Better make that paid in full, right up front!  Couldn't sell a surrey painted up like that if we had to," said one of the men.  Apparently these Amish are neither Texas Longhorn fans nor followers of Sam Houston State, as OldKat found out.

Sources:  Raber's Almanac 2008 edition, Amish Studies website of the Young Center at Elizabethtown College, and David Luthy's The Amish in America: Settlements that Failed 1840-1960.  And thanks to William and OldKat!

November 07, 2007

The cruelest season

The cold weather is starting to kick my tail here in Krakow, Poland.  Some people say November is the worst month--the shortest days (dark at 3:30!), messiest nastiest weather--rainy/icy/snowy mix, and just knowing it ain't letting up anytime soon. Arrgh.

In honor of November and bad weather (and, alas, on account of being a bit lazy again) I have linked to three related posts you might enjoy checking out:

What some Amish do down in Florida in the winter

The Amish and daylight savings time

The Amish on ice--and in the penalty box?!

May 24, 2007

Gas pains


photo:  Amy Sancetta, AP

The caption accompanying this photo reads:  "Using real horse power to get around, an Amish buggy makes its way through Middlefield, Ohio, unconcerned about the rising gas prices..."

Actually, the Amish aren't as oblivious to rising gas prices as we might think.

While it's true they don't have to worry about filling up a gas-slurping SUV every few days, they do consume fuel, both directly and indirectly.  So no, they aren't too pumped when the numbers on the sign shoot up either.

For instance:

  • Amish business people must still ship and receive raw materials and finished products.  Higher gas means higher costs for them and for the ultimate consumers of their goods.
  • Amish frequently hire out 'Amish taxis' for whopper shopping trips to the local supermarket or to visit relatives outside of buggying distance.  They also venture further afield--to weddings in out-of-state Amish settlements, on hunting trips, to Florida.   Buggy ride to Sarasota?  No thanks.
  • Many Amish men work in the construction industry, or in locations out of walking, biking, or buggying distance.  They'll get a ride with an English driver and contribute to the fuel costs.

  • Amish working in industries dependent on fuel prices may suffer.  Heavy, though thankfully temporary, layoffs hit the many RV-industry Amish in northern Indiana last summer, due to a drop in orders for the fuel-gulping monsters.

  • Many Amish use gasoline engines to power appliances such as washing machines, as well as farm and woodworking apparatus.

We still like to think of the Amish as living bubble lives, somehow insulated from the whims of the world.  It's a nice idea but not really the case.

March 20, 2007

Amish in the penalty box

Taxes, puppy mills, cream-cheese muffins--I just looked down the list of posts for the last couple weeks and realized that the Amish have been the subject of a good bit of controversy recently.

Most of it fairly tame.

But this one made me do a double-take.

Apparently tempers got hot at the championship game of the Regency Hockey League in Lancaster County last night.

According to this Lancaster New Era article, a 20-year old Amish player for the all-Amish-and-Mennonite Phantoms delivered a half-dozen punches to a referee in the closing seconds of the match.

The team was upset over what they felt was unfair officiating.

It's likely this was an unbaptized youth, but still represents a very rare instance of violence by an Amish person.

Amish take differing stances on sports--some feel that adults playing sports is unbecoming, while others participate in softball and basketball matches with one another.  Shuffleboard is a hit in Florida's Pinecraft community, which I've covered a lot recently. 

Amish teachers also often join in the games at recess.  One Amishman I met in southern Indiana had a full gym in one of the buildings on his property.

It's probably fair to say that differences in most Amish games are settled a lot more peacefully than in this case!

March 18, 2007

The Amish on vacation

Amish people often ask a lot of questions when you tell them you have visited places overseas.

I've spent a good bit of time explaining to inquisitive Amish how people live in Poland, or what it's like to climb Mt. Sinai.

The Amish choose to live in a small world, and many are naturally curious of life outside as a result.

At the same time, out-of-state vacations have become more and more popular  over the years.  Some Amish visit Florida, rent RVs (with driver) for long-range excursions, or go hunting out West.

Some even travel overseas, as in this article describing an Amish trip to trace roots in Switzerland.  In this case, the Amish group was made up of both New and Old Orders.  They agreed to go by ship, as the Old Order generally doesn't allow air travel. 

That meant paying $6,000 a head for the Atlantic passage.

Probably the most popular excursion is the trip to visit family in another settlement, perhaps for a wedding or reunion. 

To me, the oddest sights are seeing Amish folks in the Greyhound station.  Especially since these stations are usually found in the most heavily urbanized chunks of the city.  Talk about being a fish-out-of-water.

March 11, 2007

Unlikely snowbirds

Electric lights, shuffleboard, good eats and visiting to your heart's content.

And:  no messing around with buggies.

It really is a blast down in Pinecraft, especially if you're Amish.

A neat article, just out in the Urbana/Champaign News-Gazette, on Florida's 'Tricycle Amish' , shows the lighter side of the Amish people.

You can just tell by all the wisecracking and excitement in this piece that the Amish who go really love it down south. 

March 07, 2007

Tricycle Amish

Random fact:


The Old Order Amish congregation of Pinecraft in Sarasota, Florida, does not use the horse-and-buggy.  Amish in this congregation get around by way of bike as well as large adult 'tricycles'.

Pinecraft is mostly made up of older residents and seasonal visitors. 

More on this unique settlement at Amish Country News.

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