You guys have heard me talk about Mennonite communities and how we go there during the summer and fall months to buy our produce. I wanted to write a post that went in depth about who they are and how they make their living. Mennonite communities are very scarce in the United States with more focus on their communities being in Europe. They are literally the nicest people you will ever meet.
Who They Are
Mennonites are very similar to Amish communities. With over one million members, the Mennonite church has been in existence for more than 480 years. While old school Mennonites follow these ways of the Amish community, most contemporary Mennonites are not outwardly that different from any person you meet on the street. In fact, they live in countries around the world with a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. Mennonites believe in simple living, but express that simplicity in a spirit of stewardship and awareness of the needs of others rather than completely separating from society as the Amish continue to do.
The original difference in opinion came in 1693, when Jacob Ammann, a Swiss Anabaptist leader, felt that the church leaders were not holding to strict separation from the world and that spiritual renewal was needed. Ammann did not believe that the ban, or shunning, was being practiced as it should be.
Ammann enforced more separatist ways upon his followers, and today some practices among the Amish include: untrimmed beards and hooks and eyes in place of buttons on outer garments of the men; horse and buggy transportation; horse-drawn implements for farming; plain and distinctive dress patterns; no electricity in homes.
How They Make a Living
The Mennonites are typically open for outside people to buy produce and freshly baked breads and sweets from late April to October. They make spices and herbs, as well as essential oils. They also make jams and jellies as well as honey, salsas, relishes, and tons of other canned goods! Everything they sell, with the exception of the bakery and canned items, are seasonal. Around here they also provide all the local produce to the supermarkets. So we have definitely learned not to go on truck days! These roads are barely big enough to have two cars passing each other. Let alone having tons of tractor trailers going down them. We went on truck day once and we vowed never again!
Buying from the Mennonites
I just went to the mennonites on Saturday and we spent around $150 and we got a dining room table full of produce, spices, and canned goods. The most expensive part of our trip was the 3- 12 pack containers of 32 oz. jars of their homemade V8 juice. They were $27 a box but it will last us around 3-5 months. We will go back right before soup season starts here and get more.
We also got so many spices…they have all natural spices in 8-10 oz. containers for $1.90-$2.40 EACH. I don’t think I could get all natural spices for that anywhere else! They have everything from garlic to ranch seasoning. They also have huge bags (10 lbs) of corn starch that’s about $5.
We also get tons of squash and zucchini for really cheap! They had a 10 pound box of zucchini for $8.00, two box tops full of heirloom tomatoes for $5.00 each. We also got two huge bags of spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, and onions as well for about $1.25 each bag.
Now there is no way that we will eat all of that zucchini before it goes bad. That’s why I invested in a foodsaver about 4 years ago. I caught it when it was on special at Costco (which they run all the time). We will take about ¾ of what we bought and prepare it with the foodsaver and freeze it. It’ll last a long time in the freezer and we will get to use it over time without worrying when it’ll go bad. We also use this with the produce from our garden out in our backyard and it helps us have almost zero wasted food, and then we have homegrown produce for the winter months too.
If you have a Mennonite or Amish community near you, I highly recommend checking it out! You definitely won’t regret it!