Storms in New Market, Alabama, did about $100,000 of damage to the farm of Susan Ayers-Kelley early in June, but a large Amish crew from nearby Tennessee helped clean up her property. As neighbors and participants in her Plowboy Produce Auction facility in Ethridge, Tennessee, they were eager to help.
According to a news account in The Tennessean last week, an employee at the auction, Janice Martucci, with help from her husband Phil, transported 24 Amish farmers and some of their teenagers 57 miles southeast to Ayers-Kelley’s New Market, AL, farm to spend a day working.
Ms. Ayers-Kelley was overwhelmed by their generosity. “I don’t know why they chose me, but they did. It just warms my heart. … Our relationship was not made overnight, but it is all about relationships,” she said. Ms. Martucci said she was inspired by watching the Amish men and boys working so effectively together.
By lunchtime, the workers had filled four dumpsters with debris to be trucked away. Ayers-Kelley felt that the Amish volunteers accomplished in an hour and a half what an “English” crew might take a couple days to do. They worked efficiently as a team, without much need for instruction or direction.
The lunch was provided by a nearby café—coleslaw, potato salad, barbecued beans and smoked ribs. The Amish teenagers deferred to their fathers to be served first, and then they all settled down in the shade of a tree to eat.
A much longer version of the same story in The Tennessean provided additional information about Ms. Ayers-Kelley. She has been dealing with the Amish farmers in the Ethridge area since the year 2000 when she started buying produce for her farm market in Huntsville, Alabama. She has become well known and liked by them. The Amish around Ethridge established the Plowboy Produce Auction in 2005 and set up a board to oversee the operations of the facility, which opened in 2006.
But in 2013, the manager of the facility resigned, so the auction barn was put up for sale. The Amish turned to their trusted friend Ms. Ayers-Kelley, who agreed to buy it. “When you’re standing in a room of 40 Amish men looking at you, what do you do? Well, what? … I now own Plowboy,” she said. “I feel like I’m not only helping these families, I’m helping generations to come.”
As if in response, an Amish person said, “We … have to keep the auction going to keep our families together. It’s for our future.”
The work party of the group in northern Alabama reflected their values. When the journalist asked the Amish men and boys eating their lunches under the tree why they were helping out this way, they replied simply, “we wanted to respect Susan.” They clearly understand the essence of peace.