Amish/Mennonite Horticulture Workshops

Clete Swackhamer, Appanoose/Davis County Extension Director, Southeast Area

Amish and Mennonite growers in Eastern and Southern Iowa are diversifying into vegetable, fruit and ornamental crops.  The growers are in need of helpful information to grow and market high-value crops.
Extensions Response

The ISUE team combined campus, area, and county staff in organizing field days, workshops, and troubleshooting clinics.  In Davis County, the project offered a total of 7 workshops, 3 clinics and 3 field days from June 2005 to September 2007, focusing on crops and technical topics of greatest interest to Amish, Mennonite, and other growers in Davis, Van Buren, and Appanoose Counties.  Clete Swackhamer was the key organizer, making contact with local Amish/Mennonite elders, planning and organizing workshops and field days, and coordinating publicity for the events.  In addition, the project greatly enhanced the collection of practical horticultural references by purchasing about $1,400 in books and other references for both the Davis County Extension Office and the Drakesville Produce Auction.  Swackhamers long-term contacts with the local Amish and Mennonites paved the way for the projects campus staff, and its training programs to be accepted by the target audience despite their fundamental belief in separation from the rest of society.  This has generated a lot of farm visits by the Extension Director to troubleshoot production problems in commercially grown Amish and Mennonite communities.

Several Amish producers have borrowed the books that were purchased.  An end-of-program survey of all attendees at the projects activities in November 2007, will gauge changes in grower practices and knowledge levels as a result of the project.

130  Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer

Page last updated: September 28, 2007
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,