The movement of the Amish was a foundation of Jacob Amman (1644-1720) in Europe. The name of the group originates from its founder. It is a Christian group of European origin descending from Mennonite church. Amish started as a reform group within the Mennonite movement. This was an attempt to restore some practices of the Mennonites which were done long ago. They migrated to the US in the 1600’s, and their strong beliefs centered on discipline and spirituality.
From the history, they were Christian believers who were young reformers in Zurich. They annoyed religious clergies of religion by baptizing each other in 1525. They then threatened civil and religious authorities. This resulted to their hunting and killing. As a result, they started migrating to the other part of the world for political stability and religious freedom (Kraybill, 2000).
Beliefs and practices of the group base on works of the Mennonite’s founder, Menno Simons (1496-1561). It is in their effort to preserve elements of early years of the 17th century of the rural culture. They do not follow modern practices, and they try to avoid the American people and culture. The year 1993 marked 300 years of existence of the Amish community. Today, they occupy not less than 200 settlements in 22 states and the province of Canada in Ontario.
Amish’s Primary Mode of Subsistence
The Amish mode of existence is primarily known as emerging agriculturists. This is a method which involves cultivating soil, production of crops and rearing livestock. Traditionally, their culture has revolved around agriculture. Farm life has always been practiced and has been handed down from their ancestry. Farming is a fundamental practice, because it is not only source of their subsistence living, but also it is what it means to be an Amish (McGonigal, No year).
It is beliefs that guide their way of life and their mode of existence. Their life is rooted in the soil. From the time they were evacuated from rural areas by the European persecution, the Amish have been farmers. Research indicates that they are exceedingly hard working. However, they do not necessarily work for getting ahead financially the way most Americans do, but mostly; they work in order to lead a life of Christianity that is a benefit to their community (McGonigal, No year).
The Amish group practices agriculture and farming according to their values, which includes, respect and determination for the natural process of crops. The farming used by Amish families has existed for over 300 years, and have helped sustain them as one of the lasting and successful subcultures in the North America. In farming, they use natural powered drafts and fuel powered fossils. Animal manure is a common way they use in building and maintaining the soil fertility. This is aimed at creating an ecological heaven within farms by breaking insects and disease cycles instead of using insecticides. Their crops are smaller than those grown by the American society. However, they create quality and more organic products with the use of natural resources. The natural resources are the source of success, sustainability and profit of their farms (CRTaunton, 2012).
They raise cows for milk and meat, pigs for ham, sausage and pork, chickens and ducks for meat and eggs, orchards for fruits, large vegetable gardens for the family, other activities are ranching and horse training. All this depends on where they live, the soil type, and skills they have. They engage in communal work in farming and harvesting. They share machines in activities of cutting grains. Activities are scheduled together to accommodate each individual’s needs. Farming factors results to a highly productive and efficient source of subsistence (CRTaunton, 2012).
Beliefs and Values
As said earlier, farming means more than just finding means for subsistence to them. It is what it means to be an Amish. The Amish worked together as units in the fields. This fostered family bonds and self-reliance. This act ensured healthy relationships and strong bonding among themselves during harvesting and barn-rising. To the community, the activity of barn work is extremely serious just as the way they are serious with their religion. It was only interrupted by activities of funerals, weddings and other religious practices without any inconveniences.
Having emphasized on the Amish’s farming and agriculture, it is evident that it has impacts on their beliefs and values. The community of Amish believed in Jesus Christ, and they followed his paths. They are paths of loving their enemies, forgiving other people’s insults against them, and not revenging, but giving in to temptations and humiliations. This is a reason why the Amish concentrate on farming. By doing so, they create favorable terms with nature and gods, thus, staying away from insignificant acts that include, but are not limited to bashing and harassing (McGonigal, No year).
The Amish farming stewardship and skills of the biodiversity begin with religious values about the quality of life. For families of Amish, they are living close to their farms, which are surrounded by beautiful creations of God, and working on them, is a vital part of their quality of life. As a result, their lives become enthusiastic. The animal powered farming that they practice is a way to create wider habitants, in order to maintain the rich biodiversity on their farms and communities. This is also aimed at preserving their spirits, and their economic and ecological viability (Cosgel, 1993).
They use technologies of low levels of fossil fuel, which is an indication of the ordinary life. By this, they aim at interacting with their environment through managing their ecosystem in their day to day living. The family vegetable gardens are cultivated by women and their working in those gardens, which is a quite significant value for them. It brings satisfaction for them, and also provides spaces for which beauty appears in the farm. Colorful flowers of various types grow between cabbages and other vegetables, giving environment a compelling look. Beautiful butterflies and of many types fly around the gardens. Birds build their nests on the orchards found in gardens (McGonigal, No year). All these Amish people do is live a separate life, free from sin and defilement of any kind with a long goal of securing salvation (Cosgel, 1993).
Farming in Amish has impacted economic organizations of Amish culture. They have actions that separate them from other people. They include lack of use of tractors for farming or other field works, restrain from using electricity from public power lines, not using fertilizers and insecticides. They used manpower in their cultivation activities. They used low level fuel fossils, used animal manure, and other natural means of getting rid of insecticides. This, however, was not a welcome to the economic organizations of Amish (Cosgel, 1993).
They neither bred mules nor accepted them for better productivity and economic prosperity. They believed that it was not in line with plans of nature that two animals of different species be crossed. Records indicate that there were no mules and asses in the Amish farms in the later years before the 20th century. This yielded negative productivity by comparing outputs and the land size. Their economic organizations were seriously affected. Yields were not enough for the growing number of Amish people. It lowered their income with a wide margin compared to non-Amish people. They did not believe in being employed in industries and social works (Cosgel, 1993).