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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.
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.
One drawback of business in some Amish eyes is the increase in wealth and disposable income that has resulted from business success.
Some fear that this may serve to unbalance Amish society, creating separate “classes” of businesspeople, landowning farmers, and day laborers.
At-home businesses are seen as advantageous in that they allow fathers to be with the family.
Like the farm, they provide a place for children to work and learn skills and values important to the Amish.
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.
Many of the factories which employ Amish do not require high school education or its equivalency, which suits the eighth-grade-educated Amish well.
In some instances Amish can actually make quite good wages, as has been the case in the RV plants of Elkhart and Lagrange Counties in Indiana.
Farming allows a degree of separation from the world, with minimal influence from non-Amish society.
Amish farms may be visited by the occasional feed salesmen or the milkman who might make his rounds every few days.
Some Amish have reacted by moving to Amish communities where land is cheaper or by starting new settlements in new areas. In some communities, such as Geauga County, Ohio, or Nappanee, Indiana, the local economy has provided numerous employment venues.