Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Interview with Amish business woman Anna Zook: I ask her if she thinks Lancaster's Amish may becoming a little too cozy with its English tourists or worldly among other questions. Also Anna includes a recipe with this post.

All Images from the Homestead Guest House.

I first came across Anna's business "The Homestead Guest House" mostly because of my own curiosity of finding a B&B that is Amish owned and operated. I had known of one already that was operating in Lancaster county so I thought there may be more, and then after going through some publications that I have I found a very nice web site that made me think they might be Amish!

So I emailed them and recieved a note from its owner Anna Zook telling me that yes she is Amish and that she owns this Inn, I at first questioned this because I was receiving emails back and forth from someone so naturally using a computer. So lets get this all out of the way in saying yes Anna does use a computer which I suspect is mostly used for her family business, and this is a trend that I have been hearing about for some time and have seen for myself mostly from only a few of the plain folks here in the Lancaster area.

But Anna takes this fairly new concept among the Amish to a new level with operating the web site herself and responding to her companies emails without using the assistance of the English, and there's nothing quite like having more control over your own business than doing most of it yourself. I have seen and been involved in discussions about the Amish now starting to look at computers not as something to stay away from or even run from, but now they see it as a tool to help their business survive against other Amish businesses, but to compete with those businesses that are English owned as well.

Below are some questions that I had asked Anna and I also asked her for one of her very own recipes, so I hope everyone enjoys this and I have placed Ann's web site for the Homestead Guest House at the end of this post. 

Enjoy folks.....Richard

My conversation with Anna Zook 

Richards question- First id like to say that your guesthouse is very different than most because of you and your family being  Amish, has that difference seemed to help your business in some ways because of the fact that you are Amish and a lot of folks are very curious about your lifestyle. 

Anna answers- I know being Amish has helped. People are curious about our lifestyle, and want to experience life on the farm. Families enjoy coming here and spending time away from the trappings of TV and computers to experience a slower paced lifestyle. Another popular thing with our guests is helping with chores. Children (and those young at heart) love getting a chance to gather the eggs and help milk the cow. A lot of people want more than just the tourist version of Lancaster County staying at our guesthouse helps them to experience that.

Richards question- Anna how long have you and your  family been involved with the Homestead Guesthouse, and why did you get involved with operating an Inn?

Anna answers- The Homestead Guesthouse has been opening up rooms to guests for several years, but only in the last two years have we really been actively marketing it. We have had a tremendous response to it, and I have enjoyed meeting families from all over the world.

Richards question- Anna compared to most Amish community's Lancaster seems to be more liberal or more relaxed in the way the Amish interact with the English and the tourist's that seem to flock here, do you see that same difference yourself being Amish and living in Lancaster county. And finally do you see a danger in becoming maybe a little too close with the outside world, or are you able to somehow keep separate yet interact and do business at the same time. 

Anna answer-I am not sure if we are more liberal or more relaxed in how much we interact with the 'English' and the tourists. This is of course where I grew up so this is what I most familiar with. I know that the rising price of farm land pushed Amish families away from the more traditional farming and to other business and some of those businesses are more in the public. Is there danger in becoming too close to the outside world? That is a good question and I am not sure if I have a good answer but this is my take on it. 

There is a danger in becoming involved in material things and maybe the family not taking first place because of your business or being involved with people of questionable character, but at the same time I think what is in the heart will come out in their life. A farmer can be just as involved in his farm and not have time for his family or become involved in immoral activities. 

The world is changing and it can be difficult to find a balance. I think the focus should be on what is important in our life and I think that it is possible to keep what we have and yet interact with other people. Keeping separate has been a blessing for the Amish.  
                                                             Anna Zook

From Anna Zook

The recipe that I am including below is the most requested recipe by our guests.

Baked Oatmeal

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (melted)
2 eggs (beaten)
3/4 teas. salt                                        
1 cup milk
3 cup oatmeal
2 tsp baking powder
Mix all ingredients together. Spread evenly in a 8" x 1" pan. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
This simple recipe has a homemade comfort food flavor to it. Serve with milk and fresh fruit. Or ice cream for a summer time treat that is good anytime of the day! You can also add cinnamon nuts, or raisins to make it your homemade specialty.
Click here to visit: www.homesteadguesthouse.com


I've created this website out of my own interest in the Amish/Mennonite culture and of living in the country. Its a place for people who are interested in the Amish like myself, and its also a place to share Images of the beautiful country side that is all around me. my name is Richard, and I live very close to an Amish settlement here in Pennsylvania. This site is dedicated to my mother, who had started all of this by taking me as a child to Lancaster,pa from our apartment in the Bronx projects..........THANK YOU MOM............... Richard