Suburban sprawl: the unsightly spread of cookie-cutter homes and shopping centers oozing from a population center towards pastoral, peaceful rural country. That's my definition of suburban sprawl, anyway. What happens when this sprawl reaches Amish areas? First of all, land prices increase, which puts pressure on Amish farmers to sell and move away. So the very bucolic peacefulness people came to experience then packs up and leaves. Of course, the same cycle repeats itself with increased cars, shopping malls, and grocery stores. All of the stuff people move to rural areas to escape they end up bringing with them if they come in large enough numbers. Few things illustrate this more than this photo I took from the driveway of Burkholder's Buggy Shop outside of Dayton, Virginia. This is a beautiful enclave of Old Order Mennonites and granted Burkholder's is on the edge of the enclave, you can still see how these two words are colliding. This scene greets the Burkholders each time they leave their driveway. You also have increased risk for accidents anytime cars and buggies find themselves sharing the roads more. The issue of suburban sprawl and the Amish is not a new one. Lancaster County has been battling it - with mixed results - since at least the 1950s as Philadelphia's outer orbit keeps want to swallow up the area. The book Frommer's 500 Places To See Before They Disappear includes Lancaster County's Amish on their list because of the reasons I outlined.
Counties and states should start zoning in buffers between agricultural areas and suburbs. They won't because they like to see those extra tax revenues!
I grew up in Lancaster county, in a suburb outside of Lancaster City. I remember as a kid sitting on a hill at school during recess and looking across Route 30. Back then you had a housing development but mostly farm lands other than the highway. Now, it's completely built up. The farm lands are gone turned into yet more housing developments and strip malls. Route 30 has turned into a sprawling car-eating monster compared to the type of highway it had been in the early 80's.
Yep. Everyone wants to be the "last one in." But it rarely works out that way. All the farms where I used to ride as a kid are now houses. Most of the farmers around here have been property taxed out of existence.
When are we going to wake up and start protecting the small family farm?
This is what happened to Long Island 60 years ago. Farmlands turned into suburban development. It is inevitable when farmers sell to developers. You can't really blame them since the money is enticing. But the result is a complete loss of farms and the farm culture. Lancaster will most definitely become like Long Island. There will be a handful of farms that will have to be tourist friendly to stay alive, and there will be a restoration village with rescued buildings in order to show visitors what life had been life for Lancaster county in the past. There was a time when the plain people did not sell to outside interests, but a few years back I was at an auction of an Old Order farm. It was purchased by a developer who was going to build houses in a gated community. You get my point.