Shipshewana, Indiana, isn’t your usual Amish settlement. Most of the Amish in this part of northern Indiana don’t till the land and sell home-made jams and quilts, they work in a huge RV factory in a nearby town, earn $40 an hour, and take vacations in Florida. At least, that’s how it used to be until almost everyone got laid off. Now they’re having to take a step back and re-evaluate their Amishness.
Forced back into living off the land and crafting wooden trinkets, many Amish find they appreciate the self-reliance and family-centered existence they had given up in order to work a factory job.
“The factories can make a robot out of you,” says one Amish former factory laborer, who now sells home-grown flowers and vegetables. Another Amish man, who started selling home-made wooden furniture, notes, “It’s a better life to be home with your own business and to be around your family. The children learn from watching you work.”
Yet others freely admit they would give it all up in a heartbeat if it meant a steady wage and not having to get up at 3am to stock jam jars.