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Sorghum Revival: Shared Memories of Sorghum Production on an Amish Farm

10/5/2012 12:42:57 PM

Tags: Sorghum Production, Sorghum, Amish, Sustainable Farming

Sorghum Molasses in JarsArthur Bolduc shares his story of experiencing life near an Amish community in Ohio, where he enjoyed the exciting process of sorghum production firsthand.  

I’m a retired carpenter from Massachusetts and have lived in Ohio for about 13 years. I live in central Ohio, on the edge of the largest Amish community in the world. It’s an interesting and beautiful place, especially in autumn with all of our hardwoods. I live about 15 miles from Malabar Farm, home of the late Louis Bromfield, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author. I will probably spend the rest of my life exploring the state and enjoying Amish farms. 

The Amish are not the backward people some would have us believe. They saw industrial agriculture coming when the first tractor showed up.  They saw how coal strip mining scarred the landscape and fouled the rivers, and how the smoke from electric power plants polluted the atmosphere. They understandably shunned electrical power.Black and white, sorghum harvesting 

They farm the way they do to preserve the environment and to meet their needs, not to feed an insatiable greed. They want nothing more than to live their simple, Christian, agrarian lifestyle. 

The Nisleys are an extended family of at least seven farms in the neighborhood, where they produce sorghum molasses. I was able to observe this time-honored tradition and provide photographs of it for you.  

When the petroleum runs out and industrial agriculture collapses, they will be the people to look to as a reference for sustainable agriculture. In fact, they are already leading the way with a chain of produce auction houses from New York to Wisconsin. Farm cooperatives such as Green Field Farms even have their own Amish buggy label.

Horse Powered MachineAmish communities use intermediate technology, labor-saving tools, and devices that minimize labor inputs without depriving others of a livelihood. They build much of their own horse-drawn equipment, tools and other necessities of life. Like all American farmers, they have seen their share of the food dollar cut in half in the late 20th century.  Ninety percent have turned to cottage industries and off-the-farm jobs to subsidize their farm income. But the Amish will hang in there to see petroleum-dependent agriculture vanish. When that time comes, they will once again enjoy the modest prosperity of honest work.  

Photos By Arthur Bolduc 

Have a sorghum-making story (and photos) or a recipe to share? Send them to to be a part of the Sorghum Revival here with MOTHER EARTH NEWS.  

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