May 16, 2011

Marketing Quaker and Amish Goods—Then and Now



     “After leaving Winchester we crossed a high ridge, north and west of the town, at Apple Pie Ridge Road, because it was where some Quakers made and sold apple pies to travelers. Hessian soldiers (in what war pre 1751) were known to walk to the ridge and purchase the apple pies made by the Quakers. The ridge became affectionately known as Apple Pie Ridge. The local farmers found booming business in feeding the Virginia Militia and fledgling volunteer American army.

     “Those of our group who could purchased pies, and if we were lucky enough, they would share a bite with us. I was fortunate to have Marnezia share a bite of his pie with me. It tasted better than any food served in the best restaurants here in Philadelphia.” (Comments made (in a historic romance novel) while the Scioto Associates transported French emigrants from Alexandria, Virginia to Gallipolis, Ohio in 1790.)


     As the Quakers migrated southward “up” the Great Appalachian Valleys,* into the Winchester, Virginia region, orchards, wheat farms and cattle farms sprang up.* The ridge where they were located was near the Nemacolan Indian Trail—which today’s Route 40 follows.

     The Quakers were farmers in a new country. They did what they knew best: farming.

     The women made apple pies.

     When the American Revolutionary War began the Virginia House of Burgesses chose local resident and French and Indian War veteran veteran Daniel Morgan to raise a company of militia to support General George Washington’s efforts during the Siege of Boston. The ninety-six men of “Morgan’s Sharpshooters…” assembled in Winchester on 14 July 1775…Morgan…and others also performed various duties in holding captured prisoners of war, particularly Hessian soldiers…”**

     The militia undoubtedly purchased apple pies from the Quakers. It is well-documented that the Hessian captives provided a ready market for these apple pies: they were known for walking to the high ridge north and west of town and purchasing and eating apple pies from the Quaker’s wives…** It is well known that the road on the ridge became affectionately known as Apple Pie Ridge Road.


     Today, peaceable German-based sects, Quakers and Amish, are still known for their simple living. The Amish culture varies: members of Old Order Amish communities don’t use running water, electricity or telephones in their homes. Neither do they drive automobiles—their mobility is limited to distances they can travel by horse and buggy (they hire non-Amish to transport them further distances).

     “We’re farmers. This is what we do and what our families have always done…” said Aaron Schwartz, a member of an Old Order Amish community in Clarion County, Pennsylvania, with limitations on marketing their farm products. We know nothing about how to spread the word about what we’re doing, and can only distribute as far as a horse and buggy would take us.***


     Things have changed recently. Schwartz’s Amish community has begun to understand the need for modern technology to communicate, even though they aren’t always comfortable with it… They have started marketing through a coop that uses Facebook and web pages.

      In 2009, Schwartz was one of ten families in his community who formed Clarion River Organics—a cooperative of growers located in Sligo. This year they partnered with a group of non-Amish people who market, do public relations, and handle distribution of the Amish products from Pittsburgh to New Jersey.***

     The use of modern technology has presented some difficulties for the co-op, according to Zeb Bartels, a non-Amish supporting the group. These challenges have been met in creative ways:

  • the initiative indicates that subscriptions are to be paid by check or cash
  • people are expected to sign up for the service via mail rather than online
  • it is made clear that none of the Amish farms are directly online
  • no identifying information is put online to give the impression that the Amish are involved on the Internet
  • cold storage, packing and processing equipment in a new warehouse …will use cut blocks of ice from a  nearby pond


     The Quakers market came to them. In today’s world, the Amish have to go to their market.

     “We have our ways, and we try our best to adapt them to the rest of the world… But we know farming and we’re glad to be able to share what we love doing with so many new people,” Schwartz said, noting that the coop has really changed everything.***








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