If heaven has a setting, Lancaster County came close this week as I enjoyed a few warm and beautiful early spring days there. An international quilt show drew me to the welcoming and friendly city of Lancaster. The historical downtown area was unique in that it had been well preserved and in continuous use. I was equally drawn to the small surrounding towns which promised not only another view of quilting, but farming as well.
The local community expresses a high value of farming and fresh food, and many restaurants framed their menu with “farm fresh” or “farm to you” phrasing. The Lancaster Central Market, a beautiful historical building, was a joy to visit, featuring fresh and organic meat, nuts, produce and herbs. One of the best lunches that week came from the Turkey’s, Inc. stall.
The rolling hills around Lancaster are home to exquisitely tended farms. The large white and stone barns would dwarf the flatland farm buildings of Kansas. Of course the Amish and Mennonite communities are a regional draw for both craft and farming. During this mid-March week we saw some horse-drawn tilling as fields were prepared for planting and plastic mulch applied.
I was especially impressed with the disciplined horses that pulled the Amish buggies. I held my breath as a semi-truck pulled alongside a buggy with motor roaring. The driver was going to make a left hand turn and although the horse danced a bit and frothed at the bit, it was under control. I was in awe of the skill of both driver and horse as they turned and went their way.
Although Kansas has Amish and Mennonite communities which are equally as creative as entrepreneurs, I was impressed by the sheer number of business connections and the organization of the communities. Tour buses pulled into the planned commercial areas which provide tremendous outlet for local food and crafts. Buggy rides and petting zoos give children a taste of the farm experience. Despite the shopping opportunities, the Amish have retained their privacy off the strip and carry on with daily life. The
For the many people who desire a farm or to live the simple life, Amish and Mennonite folks are good examples to emulate. A people who live in the world, but are not of it, they have found abundance outside of a materialistic way of life – an example of the simple life we are trying to relearn.
As we know, consuming is compelling and hard to resist. It was a joy to visit these communities of people who are content in their simplicity.