Not only are Amish communities not disappearing, they have expanded surprisingly fast. While the core beliefs undoubtedly provide the glue of these communities, it is striking that the agrarian lifestyle undergirds their group success, while industrial agriculture picks up the load of providing the vast bulk of commodities. In short, the Amish have found a way to live successful lives even with marginal economic impact on farming as a whole. They have quietly created another model for satisfaction in our profession.
States such as Missouri, Kentucky and Minnesota have seen increases of more than 130 percent in their Amish populations. The Amish now number an estimated 227,000 nationwide, up from 123,000 in 1992, according to Elizabethtown College researchers.
"When we think they might be dying out or merely surviving, they are actually thriving," said professor Don Kraybill, who shared data from an upcoming book with The Associated Press.
The Amish are Christians who reject most modern conveniences. They began arriving in Pennsylvania around 1730. Amish couples typically have five or more children. With more than four out of every five deciding in young adulthood to remain in the church, their population has grown. More than half the population is younger than 21. A small portion of the increase is also due to conversions to the faith. [More]
Even as my own son has returned to the farm, and while I notice more young faces in farm audiences, it is agrarian agriculture like the Amish that has the most job openings.
It would also seem these positions may have the best benefits as well.