The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

I Am Hutterite

I Am HutteriteI Am Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby is an intriguing glimpse into Hutterite culture, a sister religion to the Amish and Mennonites, but one that is centered in Canada instead of in the U.S.  Although none of these religions are technically homesteading-related topics, I suspect many of you are as intrigued as I am by their farm-based communities, so I thought I'd share some tidbits from this interesting memoir.

The author was raised by Hutterite parents who chose to leave the community when Mary-Ann was nearly ten years old.  So the reader sees the Hutterite community primarily through a child's rose-tinted glasses, but also comes to understand why Mary-Ann's parents chose to "run away" after a power struggle resulted in the death of Mary-Ann's young brother.

Although it's easy to understand how inter-personal politics can go wrong in this type of situation, Mary-Ann also shares how safe and accepted members felt as part of the Hutterite community.  The 15-acre vegetable garden, milk cows, and geese fed everyone sumptuous meals, which led to a striking comparison with the moldy bologna, stale bread, and rotting produce that the children ate soon after the split.  On the other hand, the story also served as a cautionary tale for non-Hutterites interested in forming communist communities --- while everything can be wonderful as long as the community stays together, it can be very tough for a family to get their feet back under them after a split.

Mary-Ann was in for other surprises, too, as her family slowly integrated themselves into the outside world.  As you might expect, the author and her siblings had trouble blending in with kids in their classes at school, but there were also troubles at home.  Since Hutterite children start kindergarten at 2.5 years of age and then spend the rest of their lives eating most meals with the community and working designated jobs, the concept of being around her nuclear family all day was a surprise.

In fact, if she had remained Hutterite, Mary-Ann would have had her life planned out for her.  She would have begun alternating between weeks spent baking, washing dishes, and cooking at the age of 17, she would gotten married and then have taken several long breaks to bear children, and finally she would have retired from her work career at the age of 45.  Instead, Mary-Ann and her family were spat out into the "English" world that most of us live in, where great freedom means great responsibility.

I Am Hutterite is first and foremost a glimpse into Hutterite culture, written in an engaging, fiction-like manner.  Whether you'd like to know more about an Anabaptist community or simply want want a light summer read, Mary-Ann Kirkby's book is bound to hit the spot.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

I always was some mix between Amish and Quaker. Mennonite is like Quaker in some ways. Do you think I should look into it, knowing me?
Comment by Maggie Thu Jul 17 13:08:59 2014

You have unintentionally pressed the can opener into a can of worms...

I live in a Mennonite "Community" although I am not a Mennonite but have close friends who are. I know their plans for the transformation of Communities but they themselves have no clue they are being used by the UN Agenda 21 planners who peddle their evil plans shrouded in glorious visions of a new world utopia.

If you really want to know what has happened to our Freedoms and sense of responsibility then look no further than the "Community Spirit" within our Towns and Cities. We are as a Nation becoming one with the Global Community intrenched in Marxism. Children are being trained in pre-school at a very young age to accept Communism and the sharing of everything. Have you knot witnessed the demand for children to share their toys with everyone? an adult would you or I share our "toys" with everyone? How about it? Your brand new car, truck or boat is up for sharing and you can not say no.....

Community gardens are just that....everyone growing for the good of all in the Community...share, and share alike....common ground, work as one.

Not many can see through all of this to their own destruction.


Comment by Edith Thu Jul 17 13:55:57 2014
Just for the record, I am not an activist.....just an observer. I really couldn't care less about trying to stop all of this. I mind my own business, and expect others to do the same.
Comment by Edith Thu Jul 17 16:15:31 2014

All those college freshman who read the first half of Marx's "Communist Manifesto" should also read the second half: in it he predicts the failure of communism due to basic human nature. A group that starts out idealistically as a true democracy with each member having an equal vote will soon deteriorate to a situation where a select group will gain influence and then that group will naturally develop a single influential leader.

Because we are all different with different POVs and needs, the only way a communistic group can persist is if it becomes totalitarian: no dissent can be tolerated.

The American pioneers had a better system: rugged individualism interspersed with episodes of community cooperation for tasks like coomon defense, barn-raisings, harvesting,and sharing in times of need.

Comment by doc Fri Jul 18 06:53:53 2014

You're absolutely right Doc .....

But..there is a slight change in the tactics to destroy freedom, and liberty. It is right before your eyes. It's called tyranny with a smile. They knew the old strong arm ways of Communism would not work. Now it's done differently. It's done by peer pressure to conform with the group using the Hegelian Dialectic to (re) create common ideals of peace, harmony, and community.... but, it's strong arm tactics with a smile because old ways of thinking, and acting are rejected. What you describe about America is gone, rugged individualism, common defense, sharing, harvesting on and so forth in the way it truly was in the Pioneer days. The old ways have actually been tweaked to look like old America but it is not. Communitarians distrust and dislike voluntary communities. They want to control all behavior. Rights have been totally redefined. It started with the right of the injured to be treated at public expense. If I hurt myself it is my one else. But no .....people want to be taken care of these days so the snow ball has gotten very large now.

Responsibility has been totally redefined. It is up to me to decide what is best for me not the State. The State or Nanny State is totalitarian because it dictates (Dictatorship) what I can or can not do with my body, with my property, with my children, and with my livestock. This is not freedom, and liberty.

This is all very well documented online. It is hard to expose due to it being steeped in deception to hide the agenda.


Comment by Edith Fri Jul 18 13:01:20 2014

Niki is the foremost authority on this topic. She had a wonderful website dedicated to years of research. It is no longer on the web because a lot of people were stealing her work without giving her the credit. She now has all her work in books that can be purchased here

Comment by Edith Fri Jul 18 16:54:59 2014

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.