While staying in Lanesboro for a week I took this three hour tour one afternoon and was very glad I did. The tour cost $30.00. The tour is such a fascinating look into the lives of the old order Amish who live in the environs of the town of Harmony, perhaps a 20 minute drive or so from Lanesboro. The drive itself is nice, passing through pretty scenery of farmlands. The van was comfortable and our tour guide, Joan did an excellent job of describing the life of the Amish and answering any questions we had. When someone requested that we stop at a farm that had animals we could see, Joan made the change to the itinerary and drove to the farm. We visited five different Amish farms and one non-Amish farm which featured Angora goats and mohair products. (I loved seeing the little, friendly goats and the items in the shop made from the mohair). All of the stops were very interesting and allowed us to walk around briefly in the yards and shop for products made by the families. The shops where the products are sold are quite small and very simple and typically included the same kinds of items; canned goods such as jellies, jams, relishes, pickles, vegetables, honey, candy, basketry, candles, soaps, etc. Our first stop also featured a furniture maker and he had some beautiful items in his shop for sale. Our last stop featured quilts and quilted items such as placemats, pot holders, etc. At this stop we were able to look inside the living room/sitting area of one of the homes, the only brick home on the tour. Our tour guide noted that usually they take groups inside the room, but the owner has serious health problems and therefore is often not well enough for visitors. A simple bakery with homemade items such as cookies, bread, bar cookies, rolls, fruit turnovers was also a featured stop. It should be noted that there was a sign at the shops that the food is not federally inspected since these are home enterprises. Although this tour centers on shopping for Amish products, we were not pressured by anyone to buy any items. Our tour guide did note as we drove that the Amish have difficulty supporting themselves with just income from their crops and farms, so they are involved in home industries or hire themselves out to work crews such as the building trades. This explains then why the Amish welcome "Englishers" to come to their homes so they can sell their products. We were allowed to take pictures at all but one of the farms as long as there were no people in any of the pictures. The Amish do not accept photographs of themselves because the bible prohibits graven images. At each of the farms we were able to see the families including some children. At one stop, we were met with a picture perfect moment as we drove down the driveway. Three little Amish boys (all the same size) with their straw hats were sitting together on a porch swing holding some toys. Would love to have had a picture but of course I respect their beliefs. It was really a precious moment. At this stop, we also got to meet the lady of the house who was busy washing sweet potatoes. She was very friendly and full of much laughter. Enjoyed asking her questions about her garden and work. As we drove along the roads we were able to see two Amish one room schools but did not stop as school was in session. We also saw a number of Amish buggies being driven along the roads. All in all, a fascinating look into the lives of the Amish in southeastern Minnesota. I was captivated and would definitely recommend.
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