Farms which were at one time affordable have risen to one million dollars or more, putting traditional dairy farming out of reach for many Amish.
Carrying the lunchpail is one option popular in numerous Amish communities. Alternatively, many Amish have set up small businesses in recent decades.
At one time, the only businesses in Amish communities were those that fulfilled Amish needs, such as carriage makers or harness shops.
But most Amish farms allow Amish to maintain distance with the non-Amish world.
Farming also allows Amish to practice communal inter-reliance, seen in such practices as the silo ring or In recent years, land pressures have made it much more difficult for Amish fathers to provide farms for all of their grown boys, as has been the tradition.
Amish businesses began catering to a largely non-Amish clientele in many cases, with harness shops, machine shops, and other manufacturers producing products for an “English” market.
Today, hundreds of Amish shops dot the landscape in the larger settlements, and in some cases Amish businesses reach a nationwide market.
Working together allows parents to pass on values of hard work, husbandry of resources, and frugality to children.
Additionally, Amish see a Biblical injunction to farming, seen in frequent references to agriculture in Scripture.
Not all Amish businesses exist at home—carpentry crews and market stands are two examples of “remote” businesses—but in many cases the at-home business is seen as a good substitute which provides a similar dynamic to that found on the farm.
Regardless of the location, owning a business allows an Amish person a degree control over one’s environment as well as the people one deals with, including clientele and employees.
Agriculture has been fundamental to Amish society, dating to their origins in Europe. Yet in recent years, an occupational shift has taken place in Amish society.