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What Happens When the Amish Get Rich

The Amish are getting rich, and the investments are getting questionable
What Happens When the Amish Get Rich
Photograph by William Zbaren

Every Monday, before 8 a.m., the parking lot of the New Holland horse auction in Lancaster County, Pa., begins to fill with gray, box-like buggies. Soon, Amish men—the bearded married ones and cleanshaven singles—are standing in clumps discussing land prices while children, dressed like mini-adults in polyester breech-front trousers and black aprons, scoot back and forth chasing each other. Adolescent boys preview the horses; mothers jiggle babies and catch up in murmured Pennsylvania Dutch. If you are Amish, you go to the auction even if you’re not in the market for a horse. Occasionally, “English,” or non-Amish, people show up.

About five years ago an English businessman named Tim Moffitt began parking a cargo trailer at the auction. Moffitt, now 59, was known to many in Lancaster County as the former owner of Super Fruit, a produce business in nearby Chambersburg, which had employed Amish workers over the years. As he passed out free bags of fruit and jugs of orange juice from his trailer, Moffitt told visitors that he had sold Super Fruit for a considerable sum. Now he was looking to embark on his next great venture: a luxury mobile-home park outside Bushnell, Fla., about an hour north of Orlando.