"Preserving a Way of Life": The Green Field Farms
In 2003, a group of twenty Amish leaders of the Wayne-Holmes Settlement found themselves asking, “How to remain Amish in the 21st century?”. In the face of new “social ills” threatening the Amish cultural identity, it was imperative that they adapt to the changing economic contexts of the new century while still holding onto their agrarian roots. According to one member of the cooperative’s board, “it’s not about organic, food, sales, or product. It’s about preserving a way of life”.1 The Green Field Farms (GFF) was founded towards this end.
This Ohio-based Amish organic farming cooperative comprises small-scale Amish farms in the Wayne-Holmes Settlement. Serving as a bridge between Amish farmers and consumers, the cooperative’s purpose is to “oversee the development of profitable markets for agricultural products of our plain communities, and the building of a local economy to support and enable our farmers to thrive”.2 They market organically grown products such as eggs, milk, and vegetables. GFF's headquarters are located in southeastern Wooster.
For a people strongly averse to formal organizations, the cooperate poses enormous challenges, like bureaucratization, standardization, and coordination with the local Amish.3 Despite major difficulties, GFF proves to be a successful endeavor. Its products are currently sold at over 200 retail outlets in four states, including Whole Foods. The key to GFF’s success lies in the balance between tradition and innovation. The maintenance of such organization requires certain cultural tradeoffs, but overall, it remains a success story of the Amish adaptation to the modern world. In the face of a shifting landscape, GFF is a remarkable example of how the Amish have successfully developed a new identity as small-scale agricultural entrepreneurs in a post-farming world.4
1 Matthew Mariola and David McConnell, “The Shifting Landscape of Amish Agriculture: Balancing Tradition and Innovation in an Organic Farming Cooperative,” All Faculty Articles 72, no. 2 (May 15, 2013): 145-46.
2 Greenfield Farms, “Certified Organic Products,” text/html, Greenfield Farms, (July 2, 2017), http://www.gffarms.com/.
3 Matthew Mariola and David McConnell, “The Shifting Landscape of Amish Agriculture: Balancing Tradition and Innovation in an Organic Farming Cooperative,” All Faculty Articles 72, no. 2 (May 15, 2013): 146.
4 Ibid., 152.