5000 Amish Gather at Family Farm Field Day


Opening Moments

5000 Amish Gather at Family Farm Field Day

by Augie

Photography by Wayne Herrod


In the heart of the world’s largest Amish settlement that spans three Ohio counties, we attended Family Farm Field Day with 5000 Amish and Mennonites. Along with us were about 100 Ohio Connections members and members of The Weston A. Price Foundation.

Set on the organic dairy farm of David and Emily Hershberger (who are also editors of Farming Magazine) a festive atmosphere was created with a theme of family farm operations, food and animal production and care–  with the right touch of home remedies and alternative health care. Joel Salatin, a national icon for sustainable, traditional farming, was the keynote speaker in two awesome sessions.

Family Farm Field Day is “to provide an educational format for grassbased agriculture that: supports low energy and a nonindustrial way of farming; encourages family lifestyles that promote cohesive, economical, and healthy rural living skills; and seeks to build morale and enthusiasm in the farming community.”Joel Salatin is a farmer, lecturer, and author whose books include “You Can Farm,” “Salad Bar Beef,” and “Everything I Want to Do is Illegal.” Salatin owns Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia and is also the supplier for the Chipotle Mexican restaurant chain. He was the first person I met and talked to as soon as I arrived at the farm festival.

Joel shared shocking news with his keynote “This Is What I See Coming”. Included in this talk was how over regulation is causing destruction of organic farms in California and that any person offering food to the public will be regulated under the Food Safety Enhancement Act—which I call the Total Food Control Act.

Children's tour bus.

Children's tour bus.

Later,  Joel and I walked together for several minutes and talked about federal and state farm and farmers market enforcement actions and private property takings. I mentioned to him that eggs, cheese and meats on ice or dry ice is not good enough: they need commercial-type mechanical refrigeration at a farmers market. He chuckled when I said common sense died back when everything became illegal. He shared with me that the germ theory of diseases and disorders had won out in the marketplace against the natural immunity model—I had never heard it put this way. Later in his talk, he explained that rather than the individual building his own immunity (health) through lifestyle and eating the healthy food, the medical marketplace has promoted the invisible bogeymen from which we must be protected through “science-based means” such as vaccinations, pharmaceuticals and continuous care. But this makes sense: there is much more money and repeat business in drugs than food.

Joel Salatin talked on “Options for Small Acreage”. Yoder Custom Meats shared two ways to butcher a pig. Rob Schlabach taught about “Raising Produce on a Dairy Farm” and Raymond Yoder presented “Getting


Daniel Yoder's Petting Zoo

Started in Produce: The Basics”.

Marvin Wengerd moderated a session on simple homemade herbal and other remedies for children;

Flower arrangement was demonstrated by Emily Hershberger with flowers from her massive gardens up the lane. Bread baking and yogurt making was demonstrated by Karen Geiser. I talked a few minutes with Karen and she does cooking demonstrations with locally produced food at world famous Lehman’s hardware store in Kidron who caters to the Amish. A session was also held on basketweaving. Robert Miller talked about trapping animals on the farmstead.

Kids milking the cow.

Kids milking the cow.

Under the Natural Resources tent, children were able to use microscopes on soil samples and bugs. There were children’s activities such as taking care of small animals and farm animal safety; learning to juggle balls; bike safety demonstrations; farm safety; beehive care; ladybugs project; other activities. The children of all ages touched me with their innocence and intelligence– and their laughter.


Augie, Farmer Jack, Eldon and Ruth Haverstock and Wayne Herrod caught in front of the home-made ice cream stand at Farm Field Day

Among the vendors there was Jonathan Miller, a plumber who specializes in solar-powered pumping systems. He built a system for David and Emily from a water well on a hill that pumped water to a cistern with a solar-powered pump that provided water to his 180-acre dairy farm. Solar has excellent applications for remote locations or for those who want to be off the electric grid. I spoke with Jonathan and some standers by about the ridiculous federal and state government plans to convert farmlands to be used for windmills and solar panels to produce 25% of all the electric power demand in the US. I told them it will not work and they shook their head in total agreement.

High points for me were the beautiful children, the women of all ages, many with with babies and toddlers.  They picnicked on pasture as families, kids scampered and played. Men talked together about farming, business and tools; women and the girls learned about cooking and flower arrangements. Men and boys learned to train ponies, herd sheep with dogs and how to pick out the best cow at a sale.

Main tent.

I met Daniel Yoder who showed large and small portable outbuildings he makes from heavy-duty aluminum pipes and tarps, suitable for greenhouses, barns or storage sheds. He made his exhibit a petting zoo, filled with young goats, calfs, rabbits etc. He also makes portable hen houses to move around cow pastures so the birds can eat fly maggots out of the cow pies to keep the flies down and provide high-protein nourishment to the free-ranged hens to produce the best eggs. I commented to Daniel that the prize drawing winners must be rigged, because the announcements over the loudspeaker always named a Yoder or Miller.

I went to Family Farm Field Day to enjoy the company, hear the talks and see the demonstrations and exhibits, but also to spy out sources of real food and make connections with people. I saw many I knew and was introduced to many others. I was amazed how many I met had heard of Ohio Connections. Some remembered me by name from the past year of visits I made to Amish farms in the area and were happy to introduce me to others.

One of many side shows. This one is showing how to pick out the best cow at a sale.

One of many side shows. This one is showing how to pick out the best cow at a sale.

I was delighted to meet Joel Kurtz, an Amish guy who is engaged in the marketing of real food from five Amish farmers producing naturally grown produce, including meats and poultry. His Healthy Heritage Farms arranges drop points for consumers who purchase annual shares in the operation. The picture at the left shows his exhibit and Gerald Klingerman, his PR man and webmaster. They were caught giving out free samples of Joel Salatin’s grass-fed beef, pastured pork and free-range chickens.

Later that day, I met Joel Kurtz and his wife, Christina, and family down at his homestead.

I felt so welcome at the Amish Field Day

Boy waiting for the kettle corn to pop.

as I had been welcomed so many times when I had stopped by their farms. They always seem to have the time to stop during their choring to take the time to talk and let me see some of their operations, equipment and products. It is not usual to be offered a glass of raw milk, a cookie or some extra lettuce and tomatos to take home. There is always something for sale for a good price, like real apple cider or maple syrup. Many times they invite me inside their home or to sit on the porch, meet the family and talk to the children. I make it a point to visit the Amish countryside once or twice a month.

All the great food, including the ice cream, kettle corn, a variety of kettle cooked soup over a wood fire, and hamburgers and sausage were by donation only; while free samples of real chicken and grass-fed meats and pastures pork were offered. For these folks, life is simple and satisfying–most I know are ingenious, industrious and intelligent.

At the end of the day when hundreds of folks were leaving to get their horses, I was walking out and crossed paths with David Hershberger, the host and owner of the property. We briefly greeted each other with a hearty handshake, but he had little time: “I have to go get my cow’, he said.

I had gotten into my car in the parking area, and when I pulled out on the lane, between a stream of buggies, I saw Samuel Yoders sister Esther, sitting on the steps near the road. “Hey Esther, what ya doing sitting there?” I asked. She got up and came over to the car and said she lost her ride home and asked if I was going down to the farm to get milk and if I could give her a ride. Having known


New coach with headlights, directional signals, horn, deluxe upholstery and rubberized wheels.

her for two years, I was happy she trusted me to give her a lift. I replied, “Well, I’ve never picked up a young Amish girl before”. In the middle of her laughing, her aunt Martha came up and exclaimed that her ride from brother Samuel was just three buggies behind me. I took my Volvo up the road to make the 12-mile trip to her farm to get milk. When I got there 20 minutes later, I was surprised to see the family just getting out of the buggy. They beat me to farm because they took the backroads for a 6-mile shortcut, beating me back as I got hung up in mixed car and buggy traffic in nearby Berlin. Horse and buggy is most efficient and cheap transportation for the Amish since everything they need is not far away. They can travel about 5-10 miles an hour.

My friendships with so many of the Amish families have enriched life for me and my wife, Annie. They have taught us self-sufficiency, the importance of helping each other and sharing and trading. They are well-insulated from the economic turmoil. I have been invited to their churches and several times it has been suggested I learn their German dialect: Pennsylvania Dutch. They have taught us more about the real and lasting things in life and the character of Christian living.


Another parking lot

A few things were odd: there were no garish-colored clothing or toys, no carnival thrill rides, no painted faces with perfumes, no rap or rock and roll, no television with the blasting commercials, no tattooed arms, no con-artists or Mr. Haney’s, no tobacco smoke or beer, no bickering or feuding, no teenage girls dressed like hookers, no cheap trinkets that look like tools, no things broken before they are taken out of the box, no artificial tomatoes or no industrial milk. There were no cell phones or texting (service is not anywhere nearby-there is no demand)

I have said on occasion that I have a beard and straw hat, and I am in the market for suspenders. My father-in-law died this year and I got 10 sets of his suspenders. Well, I got my suspenders and now I am in the market for a beginner’s Pennsylvania Dutch language schoolbook– just for the fun of it. As for my beard, I doubt if I have the courage to shave out the mustache part of it.IMG_0122IMG_0123


Small family farmers producing wholesome, healthy local foods are more and more under fire by government agencies. Whether they are Amish, Mennonite, plain people or corporate drop-outs returning to the land, these family farmers need your support and defense. Find your farmers in your local by joining Weston A. Price Foundation ($40) that maintains lists of local sources through their Chapters in every state. Purchase all the food you can and send your friends and family to their farm. PROTECT AND DEFEND these farms and real food sources by joining Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. ($50)

For next years agenda and invitation, freely join Ohio Connections at www.wholefood.meetup.com/165. If you live in the Northeast Ohio area, join www.wholefood.meetup.com/160. Or you may contact the Small Farm Institute at www.smallfarminstitute.org

Also Wayne Herrod shares what the day meant to him. His 60 beautiful photos with captions are posted here.


11 responses to “5000 Amish Gather at Family Farm Field Day

  1. Dawn McLaughlin

    Thanks Augie for a great review of the day. I so wanted to come and it just wasn’t to be this year. Sigh! Maybe next year. I too love being amung the Amish folks and grew up with them. The simpleness of their lives speaks volumes to me. I work to be insulated from alot of worldly junk and get back to basics.
    I do know a bit of Dutch and I did know a great teacher who happened to be Amish. He is gone now but I’m sure someone will help you learn Dutch, it’s all in the accent!!
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. Wow, Augie, love that Amish parking lot!! I am so glad you attended this event. Thanks for all you are doing to support these farmers.

  3. Thanks for the update. If America lived more like the Amish, I feel many many social and health problems would be almost non-existent. Too bad the USDA doesn’t see it that way.

  4. Anissa left his comment at http://dailypaul.com/node/100798 along with many more:

    I was born there. The Amish are a sensible people.

    There are sound reasons why they never gave into the Rockefeller con, insulated themselves from the rest of the gaga-land that operates just outside their ‘Eden’. They are wonderful way-showers for those of us seeking independence.

    Their earthy way of life gives them natural discernment. Thats what we lose when we give over our responsibility to an ‘artificial’ world who gets to control us in exchange.

    For those of you who are drawn to the Amish way of life, but live in urban areas, check out the Waldorf schools in your areas.

    They are usually connected to a biodynamic farm not far from school. We had a lot in common with the Amish. We took nothing from the government. Raised our own money for land and buildings. Paid for our own teachers. Our children were not exposed to tv and junk for the most part. Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy is in harmony with Christianity and all religious paths. Its not for everyone, but for those of us who sought this, it was wonderful and wholesome. Now that my children are almost fully grown, a grounding they will have for their lives.

    I noticed a Ron Paul sticker and the ‘end the fed’ button.

    Just makes sense.

  5. Dave sure came home with a smile on his face; it was time well spent. He mentioned that when 4:00 pm came, they zipped the place up and left. No lingering, no goofing around–they headed home to their farms to get their work done. Highly focused, disciplined people.

  6. Sounds like lots of fun Augie! Wish I coulda been there 🙂

    If you have time and a free Flickr account, these photos would be great to have on our
    Flickr Native Nutritionphoto group. Most of the photos there are open to the public and don’t require a Flickr account to view.

    Hope all is going well.

  7. Pingback: Amish family farm field day in Ohio « The Bovine

  8. They all need a copy of HR2749…

  9. Pingback: Ohio Amish Farm Field Day with 6000 Amish « Journal of Natural Food and Healing

  10. lovely story Augie. thanks for sharing with us. I would like to find amish or annabaptist here in Sydney.

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