Old Order Mennonites in New York: Cultural and Agricultural Growth

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New York is experiencing dramatic population growth among horse-and-buggy driving populations. Farming is recognized as essential to the maintenance of these cultures. Nationally, these groups, particularly in larger settlements, struggle to stay active in farming. However, Old Order Mennonites run contrary to trends within the plain sects as well as agriculture at large. With over 570 households, a central New York settlement of Groffdale Conference Mennonites grew by 2,700% over the last three decades. They have one of the highest percentages of their population in agriculture, operating 99% of the dairy farms in the area, yet with a herd size of less than 50% of the state average. A Mennonite run produce auction grew by $185,000 annually for the last 12 years; and church members operate nearly 50 agricultural support businesses in the settlement. Youth activities, mission work, business growth, and internal social support systems (for both Mennonite and other Old Orders) are outward signs of the inner strength of the settlement. Potential constraints to growth include geography, commodity prices, and doctrinal issues.



Groffdale Mennonite Conference, Wenger Mennonites, Team Mennonites, Yates County, NY, Finger Lakes Mennonite settlement, Agriculture, Produce auction, Occupational shift


Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies v. 3, no. 2 (2015), p. 212-221.