CARBONDALE, Ill. — The farmers who run Echo Valley Orchards
in Jackson County believe in God, hard work and avoiding temptation. The result
is a successful venture, despite some struggles along the way.
Three Amish families who operate the farm don’t have a web
page, aren’t on Facebook and don’t even have an Internet connection. But they
get by just fine, thank you.
Joas Troyer, Vernon Yoder, Warren Yoder and their respective
families purchased an established orchard in Jackson County, moving to here from
their roots out East. They were forced to deal with adversity soon after taking
When the families moved to southern Illinois in 2007, they
were forced to deal with the worst season in 50 years for fruit production.
A hard Easter freeze in April followed record highs in March
and wiped out virtually the entire peach and apple crop in the region. But the
families soldiered on, bolstered by their steadfast faith in God.
“We trusted in a higher hand. He brought us here, so we knew
he’d provide a way to make it happen,” Troyer said. “We had to keep working and
“He takes care of us in times of trouble — maybe not always
in the way we prefer, but he provides a way if we’re open to his leaning. He
blesses us as we strive to do our efforts. I think we’ve got our part to
Echo Valley Orchards has electricity and a telephone, but
that’s about as modern as the owners plan on getting. Troyer and the others
especially avoid the Internet.
“We feel there’s too much evil on there,” he said. “We
decided to keep ourselves away from it. That way we don’t get exposed to it. I’m
not condemning anybody who uses the Internet. We just think there’s so much
garbage there it’s hard to keep your mind and your focus on what’s good if
you’re exposed to it all the time.
“That said, that’s becoming one of the hottest marketing
tools there is. We just simply have chosen to separate ourselves from it. You
can’t eat garbage and not get dirty.”
Troyer has no plans to build a website, though the farm and
its produce may be found there.
“I leave that up to my wholesalers. They’re welcome to do
that if they want to, using our product,” he said. “We’ve concentrated our
efforts toward wholesaling at this point. Probably if we ever go retail, we’ll
still just go by word of mouth.”
They also eschew television and radio for the same reasons.
Not all technology is avoided, however.
Landline telephones, electricity and tractors are used
regularly. But vehicles designed for traversing long distances are
The community has provided support. A nearby Walmart
installed a hitching post especially for Amish shoppers.
“We just use the tractors, though we couldn’t operate
without trucks coming in here,” Troyer said. “We do hire guys to deliver stuff
for us. It comes back to keeping us from becoming assimilated into the rest of
society. If you have to hire them (for going to a farm meeting, for example),
it’s a little more inconvenient, but that’s how we operate.”
While work on this farm may not be punctuated with GPS or
other modern technologies, it is wrapped in faith.
“When you have faith in God, you also associate with
brothers who also have it,” Troyer said. “There is a communal effect of
supporting, encouraging and helping each other where we can.”