In some conservative Amish settlements you might not even notice a little unobtrusive building like this. It’s rather bland and sits back from the road. Not much about it catches the eye. I’ve been in this very structure (and others like it). What do you think is inside? You might be surprised.
This building has been around for a number of years, at least since the early 90s, tucked away among the grid of rural roads in the Geneva, Indiana Amish settlement. This is a very conservative community that doesn’t yet embrace solar panels or other progressive technological options. At first, this was just a small shack-like building with a phone-line running into it. As the Amish have gradually evolved away from an agrarian culture, the need to conduct commerce, schedule rides, and doctor appointments has increased. The building provides a convenient place to do this – although at a price. The building is owned by a non-Amish person who has essentially some “pay phones” for Amish people to use. I always felt a little Orwellian going in there, with mounted security cameras monitoring my every move. Nothing like trust. But then the passage of time brought another economic opportunity: freezers. Those who guessed that this was a community freezer building were correct. The inside of this building is full of floor-model freezers that Amish families rent so they can store fruit, meats, and other perishables. Home-canning is still the food preservation method of choice for most Amish homemakers, but freezing offers and opportunity to put away more food. And some cite food safety reasons for allowing the freezers.
The use of electric freezers may seem odd to outsiders (some use the word hypocritical), but it’s not as strange as it seems. The Amish have less of an issue with electricity and technology in itself and more with the issue of “being on the grid.” They don’t want electric in their homes because that can open the door to all sorts of unsavory elements (television, internet, etc), but a food locker for freezing in some building away from home? No big deal. That’s why you’ll occasionally see Amish homemakers who fall behind on their laundry visiting a laundromat in town. They draw a clear distinction between owning and using a technology. Might you one day see “internet stations” in the building that Amish people can use to surf the web away from home? I don’t think it’s a huge stretch, it might be 5 or 10 years from now…but its possible.