Nestled away from the road is a green sided vegetable stand.
Ammon and his wife Lizzie run the stand, own the farm and work the land.
They’re old order Amish. However, Ammon admits to picking up a pizza occasionally.
They sell vegetables – that’s their business. And more importantly, they live off the profits from the business. This is their only income. If it’s a bad year, they suffer.
When I visited, I suggested the idea of Ammon selling his produce at market, but he said travelling would be difficult. I then remembered seeing a buggy sitting up by the house when I drove in. As well, I noticed there were no hydro lines running up to the house.
They grow the same vegetables that most vegetable farms grow – corn, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, garlic, peas and lettuce. “The basics”, Ammon says.
He later told me that he does do some business with the large grocery stores such as Sobeys and Loblaws, but his produce is strictly monitored by these big chains and he must record all farm activities – even emptying the trash must be recorded. It seemed stressful as he told me of what they required of him.
I asked Ammon what he would want people to know about him and he mentioned the notion of pesticides. He said that people think Amish farmers are completely organic. He tries not to spray, but will spray minimally when he needs to – or else he would lose the crop, he insists.
Ammon owns 50 acres outside of Norwich, but only 32 acres are workable. 10 acres are dedicated to growing produce. He works from 6am to sunset. I asked him if he keeps his seeds from year to year – he said, no, not really and that he orders them from Stokes.
Lizzie cans almost everything – she even cans meat.
The raw meat is placed in glass jars and boiled for 2 and 1/2 hours which allows it to seal. The jars are then stored away for the winter months. All of their winter food is stored in their basement, not a root cellar. Their basement is sufficient as it’s not heated. The meat lasts a long time, she said and is very tender. She cans steak, beef, chicken and pork. All canning is done on their wood stove.
They like their sweets too. Lizzie bakes pies and cakes in the wood stove. I asked if she makes her own flour. No, she said. She buys it at a local store.
Their pond is water for the crops when mother nature is not co-operative. Ammon uses a drip line when necessary. Again, his livelihood is at stake.
I asked Ammon if the children get involved in the family business early. His son, who looks about 5, was sitting on the floor playing with his boot. Ammon said if his son expresses an interest in farming, he will find something for him to do.
I thanked them for their time, bought some tomatoes and cucumbers and left.
You too can visit their vegetable stand, also know as Milldale Produce, at #772823 , Hwy 59, Otterville, Ontario.