Posts Tagged ‘amish’


Photo: Erin Schaff/New York Times
Workers assembling face shields at Berlin Gardens’ warehouse, Millersburg, Ohio, early this month. T
he Amish community is stepping up to fight coronavirus.

I know very little about the Plain People, and as is often the case when we know little about a group, we make assumptions. Amish communities are said to keep to themselves mostly, so perhaps I assumed that they would deal with coronavirus among themselves and not participate with wider efforts to tackle it. Wrong again, Suzanne’s Mom!

Elizabeth Williamson, reporting from Sugarcreek, Ohio, writes this for the New York Times: “On April 1, John Miller, a manufacturer here with deep connections to the close-knit Amish community of Central Ohio, got a call from Cleveland Clinic. The hospital system was struggling to find protective face masks for its 55,000 employees, plus visitors. Could his team sew 12,000 masks in two days?

“He appealed to Abe Troyer with Keim, a local lumber mill and home goods business and a leader in the Amish community:

‘Abe, make a sewing frolic.’ A frolic, Mr. Miller explained, ‘is a colloquial term here that means, “Get a bunch of people. Throw a bunch of people at this.” ‘

“A day later, Mr. Troyer had signed up 60 Amish home seamstresses, and the Cleveland Clinic sewing frolic was on.

“For centuries, the Amish community has been famously isolated from the hustle of the outside world. Homes still lack telephones or computers. Travel is by horse and buggy. Home-sewn clothing remains the norm. And even now, as the coronavirus rages in the country at large, there is resistance from people sustained by communal life to the dictates of social distancing that have brought the economy to a halt — in Amish country as everywhere else.

“But as the virus creeps ever closer, the Amish community is joining the fight.

“ ‘If there is a need, people just show up,’ said Mr. Troyer, a man in his 40s with a gray-streaked beard and a mild German accent. …

“The pandemic has idled hundreds of Amish seamstresses, craftsmen and artisans, and Amish people do not apply for federal unemployment benefits.

“ ‘It conflicts with our faith and our commitment to the government,’ said Atlee Raber, who founded Berlin Gardens, an area garden furniture maker that now makes protective face shields.

“Almost overnight, a group of local industry, community and church leaders has mobilized to sustain Amish households by pivoting to work crafting thousands of face masks and shields, surgical gowns and protective garments from medical-grade materials. When those run scarce, they switch to using gaily printed quilting fabric and waterproof Tyvek house wrap.

“ ‘We consider this a privilege that we can come in here and do something for somebody else who’s in need and do it right at home here, and do it safely,’ Mr. Raber said, instead of ‘taking handouts.’

“Mr. Miller, who is president of both Superb Industries, a manufacturer in Sugarcreek with medical, automotive and commercial clients, and Stitches USA, a commercial sewing operation, calls March 16 ‘Black Monday.’ That’s when social distancing guidelines laid waste to Holmes County’s economy. … Member businesses employ about 6,000 people, the majority of them Amish. Three days later, Mr. Miller created ‘Operation Stop Covid-19.’ …

“With area businesses, he set up a website and enlisted emergency workers from Sugarcreek Fire & Rescue to model prototypes of N95 mask covers, fluid-resistant gowns sewn of tarp material from Zinck’s Fabric Outlet in Sugarcreek, and boot covers made of Tyvek from Keim, in nearby Charm, Ohio.

“Keim’s Amish millworkers built hardwood dividers for field hospitals in New York, the meticulous workmanship belying their temporary purpose. Berlin Gardens, which normally makes garden furniture from recycled plastic milk jugs, completed their first order of 20,000 plastic face shields for Yale New Haven Hospital last month.

“ ‘We’re close to 100,000 a day,’ Sam Yoder, the current owner of Berlin Gardens, said last Friday. ‘It almost covers our payroll. Not quite.’ …

” ‘Cleveland Clinic has been here for us,’ Mr. Miller said. ‘They saved my mom’s life many times.’ ”

More here. The part about Covid-19 challenges to the communal way of life among the Amish is interesting. Like the rest of us, everyone is having to rethink how things get done.

Deb at https://abearsthimble2.wordpress.com/, I know you are not Amish, but you know a lot more about their way of life than I do, so if a comment on this post comes to mind, send it to suzannesmom@lunaandstella.com and I will post it. That way we can work around the Comments glitch.

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Photos: Dina Litovsky/The New Yorker
Many Amish families have been taking winter vacations for years in Florida, where the women’s volleyball game is a popular nightly event.

It’s fascinating to me how the Amish culture carries on generation after generation, an apparently calm little world in the midst of the turmoil that is America. Recently the New Yorker magazine followed a group of Amish families on their winter vacation and came back with a collection of charming photos.

Alice Gregory writes, “Each winter, for close to a century now, hundreds of Amish and Mennonite families have traveled from their homes in icy quarters of the U.S. and Canada to Pinecraft, a small, sunny neighborhood in Sarasota, Florida. Arriving on chartered buses specializing in the transportation of ‘Plain people’ from areas such as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Holmes County, Ohio, they rent modest bungalows and stay for weeks, or sometimes months, at a time. …

“Originally drawn to Pinecraft’s affordable real-estate prices and off-season farming potential, the first Amish families began coming in the mid-nineteen-twenties, with the idea of growing celery. They found the soil disappointing, but not the comparatively languid life style. Now, without barns to raise or cows to milk or scrapple to prepare, the typically stringent rules of Anabaptist life are somewhat suspended in Pinecraft. …

“Earrings, usually forbidden, can be seen glittering from beneath white bonnets, and houses are outfitted with satellite dishes. … Swimming, volleyball, and shuffleboard are encouraged; ice-cream cones are a nightly ritual.” Check out some terrific photos at the New Yorker, here.

Although I don’t know of any special vacation spot like that in New England, I do know that Amish people sometimes travel to Boston. I see family groups from time to time at South Station. And I always feel a kind of admiration for their lack of self-consciousness in settings where they must know they stand out.

The first all-female Mennonite bocce-ball game in Sarasota, Florida. The players’ husbands stand on the side to cheer.

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Time to share my travels on foot again.

First up, plain folk waiting for their train. Next the street lamp in Narnia’s endless winter on the other side of the wardrobe.

The bird in the nest was given to me by an expectant mother as a thank you for “helping to feather my baby’s nest.” The baby is now in his late 20s.

I thought the snowy dogwood branches had a hopeful lift to them.

Finally, a team from the company Life is good put a lot of energy into building this giant Adirondack chair beside a beach ball, encouraging photographers to tweet pictures with the hashtag #ligbeachday. I saw a lot of homeward commuters snapping away en route to their trains. Quite a lot of advertising potential in this playful installation in Dewey Square, Boston.
















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I’m grateful to Scott, a former colleague, for putting this cool thing on Facebook. Looking at these healthy, growing plants is especially warming today, now that the temperature has gone back to 15 F.

Tim Blank at Future Growing LLC (which produces vertical aeroponic food farms) writes, “When you hear about a farm that supplies all-natural, sustainable produce, using 90% less water and 90% less land, one that utilizes the most advanced vertical aeroponic technology on earth, you surely would not guess it would be an Amish farm.

“Yet in Topeka, Indiana, you cannot get produce that is more local, fresh, healthy, and sustainable — even in the middle of an Indiana blizzard — like you can get at Sunrise Hydroponics, an Amish farm.

“Sunrise Hydroponics is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Marlin and Loretta Miller on their rural farm in Topeka. I have had the privilege of working with the Amish community for more than half a decade, and have come to learn that, while their lives seem simple to many outsiders, their homes, farms, and businesses are highly innovative. The Amish utilize cutting-edge and creative forms of technology to improve their lives, while still falling within the guidelines of their belief system.” Read more here.

Greenhouse at Sunrise Hydroponics

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