The View from the Backside of an Oatsmobile

This seminar we were able to learn about the Mennonite Culture and how it has shaped and influenced the agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley, specifically, Rockingham County. Having grown up the Valley, I thought I was somewhat versed in the Mennonite ways and lifestyle. I guess that is part of growing up, you realize what all you do not know. Even after marrying into a Mennonite family and being the only”Englisher”on the Beery side, am I slowly starting to understand the sense of community and virtues that come with the culture. It is hard to believe that we can all live in this same world, but almost feel like we are living worlds apart!

Exploring the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction and watching local produce go from the farms  straight into the hands of chefs, restaurants, and produce stand owners is a reassuring and refreshing feeling knowing that agriculture in the Valley is strong and growing everyday. For years, I have enjoyed bike riding through Mole Hill, Montezuma and Ottobine areas and seeing the beautiful farms, diversity of agriculture and I loved being able to share those views with our fellows and introduce them to some of my family.

I wrote the Englisher’s Guide to Mennonite’s several years ago following Beery Butcher Week, I thought I would share here.

Englisher’s Guide to the Mennonites

  1. A Mennonite’s word and handshake are as good as any written contract.

  2. If you offer goods and services to a mennonite, they WILL take you up on it.  They were raised that we were all blessed with different skills, talents and resources and we should all share those to glorify God.

  3. Most mennonites are somehow related to each other- some through blood, some through marriage. Their genealogy is printed in volumes, not just pages.  

  4. If you marry a Mennonite, you will forever be considered the Englisher- even with a Mennonite last name.

  5. When feeding Mennonites, prepare the normal amount of food needed and times it by 4.  

  6. They can take nothing and make it taste good..- Graham Cracker Fluff??

  7. They firmly believe that it takes a village to raise a child. They take pride in their large families and heritage. Who needs friends when you have 200+ cousins?

  8. They believe that everything is more fun, with more people; chores such as gardening, canning, and quilting are made better by the fellowship.

  9. The quote, “ They use everything but the squeal of a pig!” -came from a Mennonite Butchering Day.

  10. They LOVE to sing. They think most Englishers were given the same singing talents as they were.

  11. They believe in simple living and peaceful living; however, they will not judge those raised outside of their walls.

  12. Lastly, their faith is spoken out in their actions, not their words.

Re-purposed items are definitely “in” right now and it was so cool to hear the story behind the Valley Pike Market. I drove past the market every day on my way to work and thoroughly enjoyed watching the progress made as it was put back up piece by piece. It baffles my mind to know that the barn was originally built when everyone drove Oatsmobiles and much of the wood was cut by hand and assembled without the use of the heavy equipment we have today. The Valley Pike Market is a beautiful facility, the Weyers Cave community is blessed by the Gardner family’s vision to provide some much needed food options to the area. Personally, I am a big fan of the ice cream 🙂


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