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[graphic header] The Amana Colonies: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary of a unique historic communal society in eastern Iowa

[graphic] High Amana Farm Complex
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[photo]
High Amana Farm Complex
Photograph by Shannon Bell

Dominating the landscape of the Amana Colonies, the farm complex sat clustered at the edge of each village. High Amana, like the other Amana villages, was equipped with a complete farm complex, allowing the village to be nearly self-sufficient. Each farm complex consisted of several barns. Essential to each village were an Ochsenstall (ox barn), Gaustall (horse barn), Füllerstall (colt barn), Kuhstall (cow barn), and a Saustall (hog barn). A variety of shapes and massing exist among the Amana Colony barns due to the addition of lean-tos and other structures which were added to the original barns to accommodate the growing needs of the community. Completing the farm complex were machine sheds, corn cribs, buggy sheds, granaries, and other farm buildings.

[photo]
A typical Amana Village farm complex
Photograph courtesy of the Amana Heritage Society

Each of the seven Amana villages had a specific area of cropland, pasture, and timber assigned to it. Each of these seven farms had a farm manager who supervised the day-to-day farming operations; all seven farm managers reported to the colony's general farm manager who assigned the acreage and crops each farm would produce as well as the livestock assignments. Barley was an important crop to the German colonists who used considerable amounts in the production of beer and livestock feed. Potatoes, of course, were a staple in the German diet of the Amana Colonies. Each village grew large amounts of potatoes which were served by the kitchen houses at every meal. Rye, beets, and turnips were also prominent in crop cultivation and in the kitchen houses. The Amana Colony farmers also grew a small amount of tobacco to be used as pipe tobacco and in cigars for Society consumption. Not all crops were for human consumption; some such as broomcorn and willows were used in making brooms and baskets. No more than five acres in a village would have been devoted to growing broomcorn. Each village had one-eighth to one-fourth acre dedicated to willow cultivation. The willows were brought from Germany to Ebenezer and then to the Amana Colonies. The Amana Colonies were famous for their onions which were considered to have a delicate flavor and to be long lasting. Each village grew a quantity of onions in separate fields for both local use and for sale in distant markets. Crop rotation played a major role in the agricultural use of the Amana landscape. Today, farming continues to be the Amana Colonies' biggest business. Crops of corn, soy beans, oats, and alfalfa cover the Amana Colony soil and Gelbvieh, Angus and Charolais cattle are raised.

The High Amana Farm Complex is located at 1300 220th Trail, High Amana. Today, the buildings are still used as part of a working farm and for crop, livestock and forestry managers' offices. The buildings are not open to the public.

 

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