Archives for posts with tag: An Amish Garden
Amish garden

Amish garden

Sandwich Spread and Recycling Your Garden

I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two from visiting so many Amish communities. Of course learning is one thing and putting it into practice is another.

One thing we noticed while visiting farms in northern Indiana was that the family garden was often home to some oddly recycled things. For instance, the large ball of old wire in this picture. Isn’t that funny? It reminds me that my grandmother always said if you put something rusty in the ground, it would provide iron for your plants. Fact or fable? I’m not sure, but I like the way this looks. It seems like a good use of something you might throw away.

This year our entire garden is in something we might have thrown away. When we bought our home 6 years ago, there was an old dog kennel attached to the backyard fence. We JUST now acquired our first dog, and she does not need an outdoor kennel. Plus, we had already turned this old kennel into our vegetable garden.

Vannetta's garden

Vannetta’s garden

It works well for us. We have a lot of deer in the area, and they LIKE new vegetables. There’s no way they can get into this fenced area. Now the only question is whether we can provide enough shade and water to make things grow. It was my husband’s idea to use the old tires for the tomato plants. And the dirt we used came from our compost pile.

All this talk of gardens is making me hungry, so I thought I’d share one of my recipes from An Amish Garden.


Sandwich Spread



6 onions

6 mangoes

6 green tomatoes

6 cucumbers

6 carrots

1 pint vinegar

4 cups sugar

3/4 cup flour

1 cup prepared mustard


Directions:  Grind all of the above and put in salt water overnight. Drain, boil 25 minutes in 1 pt vinegar and 4 c sugar. Add 3/4 c flour and boil 10 minutes longer. Put in jars and seal.


Blessings and have fun with your garden!

Vannetta Chapman



The Amish and CPS

Garden webLike most authors, I look for story ideas in a variety of places. Sometimes the catalyst for a story is a news report I’ve read, sometimes it’s someone I’ve met, and occasionally it’s a bit of research I come across.

When I began writing Where Healing Blooms, I knew that Emma’s mother-in-law, Mary Ann, would be a major part of the story. I didn’t know all of Mary Ann’s history though. I didn’t know exactly what she’d been through to make her into the strong woman she would become. Then I came across some research about the Amish and the Civilian Public Service.

CPS began in 1941. Between the dates of 1941 and 1947, nearly 12,000 draftees served their country through CPS rather than performing duty in the military. Here’s a few interesting facts I found:

  • There were 153 CPS camps throughout the US and Puerto Rico.
  • Draftees worked in soil conservation, forestry, fire fighting, and agriculture
  • CPS men worked without support from the federal government (no wages).
  • CPS draftees were not released until well after the end of the war
  • Conscientious objectors came from many denominations including Baptist, Church of Christ, Congregational Church, Jehova’s Witness, Amish, Mennonite, Methodist, Catholic and Presbyterian
  • The CPS camps were financed primarily by churches. Men received between $2.50 and $5.00 per month for their personal needs.
  • The men performed $6 million of unpaid labor.

whbYou can see how this would make for a fascinating story! While the Amish strive to remain separate, they do in fact live in the same world as you and I. Sometimes that can mean hardship, as it did during World War II.

Mary Ann became one of my very favorite characters in Where Healing Blooms. The story of her early marriage, and her husband’s service in a CPS camp, shaped her. God used those experiences for good, and by the end of my novella you will see how service in one of the camps was eventually able to bless many people in the future.

You can read this story now, in the collection An Amish Garden (available everywhere books are sold) . The individual novella will be released in ebook format on June 17 for $1.99. You can pre-order it from Amazon , B&N and CBD .





Window display, Lolly's Fabrics

Window display, Lolly’s Fabrics

I write a lot about the Amish communities found in northern Indiana. Goshen, Middlebury, Elkhart, Nappanee, and Shipshewana are all towns that have a large Amish presence. So far I’ve written 3 books set in Shipshewana (The Shipshewana Mystery Series) and 2 novellas sets there (An Amish Garden which just released and An Amish Cradle which will be out next year). If you’ve been to Shipshe, you’ve probably been to Lolly’s Fabrics which is inside the Davis Mercantile. When I walked into Lolly’s the first time, I wanted to find a chair and just stay. I knew that I could write several books that were set around this beautiful, comforting place. Plus the Bluegate is across the street, so my characters would never go hungry.

Essenhaus, Middlebury

Essenhaus, Middlebury

My new series (An Amish Village Mystery) is set in Middlebury. On the outskirts of Middlebury you will find the Essenhaus. Now THAT was a fun place to visit, learn the history, and imagine a story.

These small towns are very warm and welcoming. The folks are friendly (both Amish and Englisch), the pie is plentiful, and the countryside is just gorgeous. I like writing books that are set in real places. I’m able to dig through the old newspaper archives and find interesting stories that I can bring up in my books. And the local librarians are chock-full of information about the towns. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m making stuff up, as much as I’m re-telling what has already happened (like the tornadoes that I describe in A Perfect Square).

If you haven’t visited this area, and you have a chance — you should! I know you will enjoy your time there.




central Texas

central Texas

Gardens Among the Amish

I think that most of us are ready for spring. My friends to the north have had enough snow to last them several winters. Here in Texas, the temperatures have bee extraordinarily cold, then warm, then cold again — pretty standard. The one thing we’re missing is RAIN. Other states are experiencing drought as well–California, for instance. Please pray for us, that God will send us rain to fill the streams, replenish the lakes, and water our gardens.

As I watch for signs of spring, I start thinking about my garden. When is it time to plant? Can I be sure it won’t frost again? What new things do I want to try this year? We have a problem with deer in our area as you can see from the top picture. Generally they find a way to eat anything I plant. But this year, my husband has built a fence around the patio, and we also have a homemade “greenhouse” that we hope to grow some things in. I love fresh vegetables and herbs!

Growing up, we always had a garden, but as I got older and had a family of my own–I became too busy. Or I thought I was too busy. Then I started writing Amish stories and visiting Amish homes. If you’ve been to Amish country, you know that their gardens are a site to behold. There are flowers alongside vegetables. Sunflowers for birdseed, and even objects to add art and whimsy, like the propane tank in the picture above.

shipshewana, INSo what did I learn from my visits to Amish and their gardens?

  1. Growing a garden is hard work, but it’s also quite satisfying.
  2. All the family can help–we saw everyone from the young children to grandma and grandpa helping.
  3. Gardening has a spiritual aspect. When we’re in “the garden” it’s easier to focus on our Lord.
  4. Gardening is healthy. It produces healthy food. It gives us exercise and time in the sun, and it’s a balm for our spirit.
  5. Homegrown produce tastes better. That’s not a scientific fact, but it sure seems to be true. Perhaps it’s the hours you’ve put in caring for your garden. Maybe it’s the way you’ve watched the tomatoes ripen, waiting for the moment you can pick one. I can’t explain this, but it seems that homegrown does taste better.

Garden webWhen I was asked to write a novella for the collection, An Amish Garden, the first thing I did was go back through my pictures of my time visiting the Amish in Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oklahoma. These places are all different, with different types of communities, buggies, dress, and even styles of farming. but one thing they had in common was the family garden.

I plan to expand my garden this year. And hopefully, this time, the deer won’t reap the rewards of my labor.