Fiddle Creek Dairy sits at the top of one of the endless rolling hills in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On the first day of spring, farmer Tim Crowhill Sauder looks from his sloped pastures out over the open fields that extend in every direction. A bright red barn interrupts the long horizon. An Amish farmer rides a plow behind a team of horses. It’s a bucolic picture that belies the landscape’s natural state.
“This was the great Eastern Woodlands,” says Sauder. “It wants to be a forest here.”
Centuries ago, Sauder’s Anabaptist ancestors arrived and, instead of learning from and alongside the Native peoples who had already developed techniques to farm within the forest, took the land and cleared the trees to grow crops and graze livestock. Now, Sauder sees its next chapter as both practical action and penance.