Tuesday, July 7, 2009
What's so great about living in Amish land?
Right now, Lancaster PA is lush and green... the streams are flowing and the lightening bugs are flickering every night. Farm land paints the ariel views like a quilt made of earth. Still, I think that the cultures of people here are the most interesting part of living in Lancaster. Last month, I noticed a piece of paper posted at my local health food store (Miller's Natural Foods). It said "Ladies Day" to discuss preserving foods, on June 24, 10:00-3:00, and it gave the address of a person's home in Cochranville, PA. I asked the cashier if anyone was welcome, and she said yes. So, my friend and I ventured out into the unknown. As we drove down a long farm driveway, we noticed quite a few horses and buggies. When we got out of my truck, we were greeted by a smiling Amish man, and as we entered his basement, my eyes took in wall to wall women all seated quietly on wooden benches and listening for the group discussion that was starting to take shape. I would say that there were about 50 women there, and maybe only 8 of us were not Amish. They refer to us as "English." I immediately felt intrigued by the whole experience. We were happily crammed into this basement just listening and learning together in an open discussion format about personal experiences and health benefits of canning, freezing, drying, cold-storing, and fermenting foods. Some women brought along their canned creations for all to sample. They passed around homemade pickles, ketchup, pickled sorrel (a juicy green garden herb stem), cherry jam made with cherries and gelatin ...and no sugar. An amazing lunch was served because everyone brought something to share and each person put their recipe along side their food. There were a lot of giggles and light-hearted joking as the ladies shared their experiences with techniques and methods that did or didn't work out well. And the conversations were so intriguing because the room was full of people who are genuinely living off the land and wanting to be as healthy as possible. It is so basic and admirable. I felt honored that I was welcomed by this group who were so open to post the open invitation at Miller's Natural Foods store. I am still a beginner when it comes to preserving foods, but I'm learning. I have made strawberry jam and frozen corn so far. If you live around here, I want to encourage any of you to attend this group at a future meeting. It's a cultural experience. I went away feeling like there is nothing to worry about in life as long as your basic needs are met. It's a good feeling. By the way, the family which hosted this meeting sells it's organic fruits, vegetables, eggs, baked goods, canned goods, and drinks at "Maple Arch Farms"located at 3418 Limestone Rd., Parkesburg, PA 19365... phone number 610-593-7105. They are open daily 9-5:30, except closed on Sunday. They pick their fruits and vegetables fresh each morning!