Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Amish, My Adventures

A few years ago, while standing in the canning section of Wal-mart comparing prices of their jars to Dollar General (DG won), a lady beside me asked me, what I was canning?  I answered, then asked what was she canning?  She began to tell how she visits an Amish community in Ethridge, Tennessee, and purchases her produce fresh.  I returned home, consulted Google maps and set out on an adventure.  It has resulted in me traveling there every Wednesday for almost three years now to purchase fresh milk, eggs, and every kind of produce grown in Tennessee.  What is even more valuable than the food, is the wonderful families I have grown to know and appreciate.

Ethridge, Tennessee is home to an Amish community with a population of about 1,500.  It is 50 miles from my house so it is a 100-mile round trip.  I make a huge loop and visit all the small towns and shop at many different stores.  Every Wednesday is a long grueling day since I also do all my errands and grocery shopping.

A little history about the Amish courtesy of the internet:

The Amish movement originally began in Europe by Jacob Amman (1644-1720).  Later in the early 18th century, some of his followers began migrating to the United States.  The group has attempted to preserve the elements of late 17th century Europe by isolating themselves from the modern American culture.  They do not use electricity, drive cars or dress in modern clothes.  They are devout Christians and strive to practice their religion in simplicity.  

I would like to share some of what I have learned; however, they do not allow pictures of themselves.  So the pictures taken from my car will be less than stellar.

Many of the families sell farm products to the public from small stores/sheds in their front yards.  In the picture below is a little store sitting by the road.

They advertise their wares with signs placed at the end of the driveways.  Some houses don't sell anything but if a sign is posted, it is appropriate to drive up, park in front of the shop and wait.  Someone will quickly appear since they can easily hear your car.  There are no loud televisions blaring inside the homes.  Usually, a teenage daughter or the mother will offer to help.  Sometimes a younger child will be available but they often have difficulty understanding English.  "Pennsylvania Dutch" is spoken in the home, and English isn't taught until they begin school.

Each driveway is a large circle to prevent backing up.  I thought it was unusual until I pulled in behind a horse and buggy.  Putting a horse in reverse is doable, but not easy - there are no backup mirrors on a buggy.  Oh, by the way, be careful where you step when you get out of the car...horses and livestock are everywhere.

This is the month of December so there is not much fresh produce being offered.  Other products are available such as handicraft items, jellies, quilts, birdhouses, soaps, the list is endless.  One house has a clock repair shop, another makes shoes, and others have wood mills.  On the sign below, the last item is a "Butcher Hog" so anyone can drive up, chose a live hog and take it home.

Last week I visited one of the little stores I frequent often and it was empty.  I snapped a picture of the self-serve cash drawer sitting on the counter.  They are honest and trusting people.


  1. Oh my gosh Jeannie, how lucky are you?! If I had access to an Amish community I would totally go there and shop. Fresh homegrown produce and nicely made handcrafts. I'd love that!

    1. I love going down there every week. It is hard to not overspend though. Watching how people live and function without electricity has been educational. I am constantly learning. My plans are to continue sharing my little adventures since their lives are so different from ours.