What could people with an eighth grade education possibly teach us about farming let alone life in a high-tech society?Amish in the Driftless area make up 80% of Organic Valley's vegetable cooperative members (here)
Apparently a lot, if family and farm well-being in Amish communities are any indication. At a time when many conventional farmers across the US are in desperate financial straits, Amish farms are still making money and turning a profit with a cautious disregard for get-big-or-get-out modern technology and no participation in direct government subsidies, other than those built into market prices, which they can't avoid. In fact, the Amish have been exempted from paying Social Security tax, not because they don't want to pay taxes, but because they are opposed to accepting the benefits. They resist receiving money from the government for any reason....
Farming still remains today a way of life for the Amish, not a way to make a fortune so one can retire early and travel. Land is not bought for speculation, it is purchased forever. There is no pressure to pay off the mortgage in a short span of years. If it takes three generations to clear the mortgage, it is of little consequence- the farm is in the family to stay. There is a pity among most Amish for people who cannot live on or near farmlands.
While all the Amish farms are diversified—meaning they raise chickens, goats, hogs, and other crops—selling their vegetable crop to Organic Valley for a fair pay price has been a great source of stability for our neighboring Amish community. Providing healthy, delicious food to folks close to home is equally important.
Amish farms are small, devoting anywhere from two to four acres to veggies. The day’s work is divvied up over the family breakfast. No matter the season, daily chores always include animal care and feeding, milking cows, and collecting eggs. There is always water to be drawn, fires to be tended, and other general chores to see to, along with whatever seasonal work awaits.
Heavier chores are turfed to the toffee-colored, Belgian draft horses that plough and harvest crops and haul wood, produce, hay and lumber. Off-farm travel, which often includes meetings at nearby Organic Valley headquarters—is accomplished via buggies pulled by horses whose long legs and distinctive gait are compliments of their Standardbred roots. The Standardbreds are often crossed with Morgans for strength, durability and temperament.