Visit Amish for wares, peace

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal


This is the fifth in a summer series of interesting places to visit in Northeast Mississippi.

RANDOLPH – A trip to Mississippi’s sole Amish community offers an abundance of homemade goods and farm-fresh produce but, perhaps even more fascinating, a rare glimpse into the past.
Randolph Amish settlers in rural Pontotoc County are among the most conservative of the famously technology-resistant Christian group, according to Amish America, an online resource about the Amish.
Its members dress plainly. Women wear bonnets; men straw hats. They eschew modern devices, relying instead on manual labor and horsepower to earn a living.
And while they otherwise keep to themselves, this community of about two dozen families endures a daily culture clash by selling wares to car-driving, shorts-wearing, iPod-toting strangers.
Most days except Sunday, the Amish open their doors to a steady stream of shoppers. Signs perched at the end of their driveways announce which products you’ll find. Among the usual wares are baked goods and jams, freshly picked produce, hand-made rugs, original furniture, sorghum molasses, homemade candles and custom horse shoes.
Prices are reasonable: For $20 you can get a dozen cookies, a jar of peanut butter, a pound of potatoes, an aloe plant, a basket of grapes, and a jar of dill pickles. All fresh.
Some families sell products in sheds near their driveways, some inside barns and others on the back porch where their plainly-clad children tend chickens or sweep floors.
It’s not rare to see young boys with long hair plowing the fields while their sisters manage a produce stand. Parents hover nearby.
And while they welcome the steady stream of shoppers – sometimes as many as 200 daily, said one Amish teen – they prefer not to be photographed.
The Randolph families settled in Pontotoc County in 1995, and are affiliated with the Swartzentruber Amish, “a subgroup within Old Order Amish society (that) … use more limited technology, dress more plainly, and typically have a lower standard of living than more progressive Amish,” according to Amish America.
“Swartzentruber Amish do not permit automobile travel except in emergencies,” Amish America said. Nor do they “have in-home plumbing or hot water.”
But they do have a sense of peace and serenity that has long since disappeared from the modern world. And that alone is worth the trip.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com

Directions
TO VISIT THE AMISH SETTLEMENT in Pontotoc County, from Tupelo:
• Take Highway 6 West

• Exit at Downtown Pontotoc/Longview

• Turn left on Oxford Street

• Continue onto Highway 9 South

• Turn left on Highway 341 South

• Turn right on Salmon Road (County Road 138)

• Go about one mile until you see handmade signs for Amish goods