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Solid Amish roots make for great garden, strong Hoosier ties


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My vegetable garden is thriving, thank you, although I can’t take any of the credit. It has done this all on its own without much in the way of input from me, save planting and a little watering.

I have tomatoes and cucumbers in profusion, and the only thing I can think of that makes them so healthy is that they started out Amish. By that I mean I got them at a greenhouse owned by an Amish family, over in Wayne County, where they got an excellent start.

For some people, that will be answer enough. The Amish have a reputation for producing quality goods, and that goes for garden starts. You can’t go wrong with Amish eggplant.

 

Wait. I take that back. You most certainly can go wrong, although it has nothing to do with where the eggplant goes to church. It could be Amish or Roman Catholic or Zoroastrian. It’s still eggplant, and I don’t like eggplant.

But back to the Amish thing.

It is an Indiana truth that if you put the word Amish on a product it will sell like hotcakes at a ridiculous price. Amish cheese. Amish-baked goods. Amish furniture. Call it Amish, and people go nuts for it. Even as we speak, I have a so-called Amish chicken residing in my refrigerator. I bought it because it was the only one available, and yes, I paid too much.

(Amish chicken? Please. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to see a chicken wearing a beard or a bonnet. I HAVE seen them riding in horse-drawn buggies, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t driving.)

Being from LaGrange County, I have been around Amish folks for much of my life; and trust me, they are just like you and me, except of course that they’re way different.

What I can tell you is that most of the Amish folks I know can’t see what the big deal is to us English (non-Amish) people. They know they’re different, sure, but when you boil it down they’re just people trying to get through life as best as they can, guided by a set of convictions they hold very deeply. You could say that about a lot of folks.

Of course, a lot of folks don’t go clip-clopping along in buggies, living in houses that aren’t on the grid, and following an antique dress code. Still, I don’t know that it should translate into being the objects of gawking tourists or for that matter higher prices on chicken legs.

I’m lucky to have a handful of good Amish friends. One of my favorites is a kid named Elam Esh, who’s 10 and sometimes loads my truck when I buy stuff at an Amish produce auction.

Invariably, he takes the money I pay him and runs straight to the lunch wagon for a treat. One time he came back with a can of root beer, a Styrofoam cup and an ice cream sandwich. He carefully nibbled the chocolate cookie away from the sandwich and then placed the remaining block of ice cream into the Styrofoam cup. Then he poured the root beer over the top of it.

“Root beer float. Best drink you can have,” he declared.

Just goes to show you: Smart kids come in all religions. Any fan of a root beer float is a kid who has gotten an excellent start in life. Just like my plants.

Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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