How much do you know about the Amish? You've probably seen them portrayed in the film Witness with Harrison Ford and heard about their 19th-century way of living, but you might want to learn more about their story.
When you are visiting Lancaster then, The Amish Farm and House is the place to visit.
The center was founded in 1955 by Adolf Neuber who had the idea of opening a place of this sort to educate people about the Amish religion and culture, which usually remains mysterious to many.
The American protestant group tends to be private about their lives and beliefs. However, Neuber tried to make the most authentic portrait of how Amish in Lancaster lived by building the center in an original Amish farmland and farmhouse from 1805.
There's a variety of tours for all tastes and ages. The guides at the farm are well-informed local people who have been in contact with the Amish community to provide this knowledge to visitors. Tours run in English, but there are up to 16 languages available.
In 2006 a one-room Amish schoolhouse was built by Amish constructors, which you can tour around. Inside you will find artwork done by local Amish children, games, posters and you will learn how it is to be a student in an Amish school.
The deluxe dinner tour, recently incorporated, is one of the highlights. It includes a countryside bus tour, a guided tour through the farmhouse and a Dutch-style meal.
Elsewhere, take your own snacks and enjoy the picnic pavilion. And check their event calendar, as plenty of activities happen in the 15-acre farm, apart from the tours.
Some things you will find out
Tours focus mainly on Amish faith and beliefs and their culture and way of living. Questions like: why Amish don't use electricity or cars, where do Amish live and work, what kind of crops they grow, why they call non-Amish people English, etc., will be answered.
The resident artisans
Visit the resident artisans and take a souvenir home. Chris has been the resident woodcarver for about 20 years. He is well-known for his hand-carved roosters which he makes with a pocket knife. He has been featured in the Guinness book for one of these creations. Take a rooster home o to burn your name in a wood log.
Esther O' Hara is the pottery creator of the famous faceless Amish dolls. At the farmhouse stroll by her art gallery or buy some the pieces at the gift shop.
Stop by Elam's horse hoof care shop. Elam is a local Amish horseshoer that teaches visitors how to make horseshoes. They are also available for purchase.
Good to know
The Farmhouse is opened from 10:00-16:00 every day. Note that some of the artisans may not be available on your visit, but you can still browse through their work and purchase some of their pieces.
Tours are not scripted so ask as many questions as you want. Specific tours require reservations, but not all of them. Make sure you check their website before heading there.