The fast-growing North American Amish community is looking West to establish new horse-and-buggy settlements, but so far Alaska hasn't worked out for the religiously devout group. The Associated Press reports that the Amish sent land scouts from New York to Alaska this summer, but they failed to find anything suitable.
The search by the booming North American population of Amish for affordable, fertile farmland has produced settlements in 28 states and Ontario — and has even led parties to scout recently for suitable properties in Alaska and Mexico.
A new study estimates the number of Amish has increased nearly 10 percent in the past two years alone, to a total population of 249,000, compared with about 227,000 in 2008. That figure was just 124,000 in 1992. Nearly all Amish descended from a group of about 5,000 in the early 20th century.
Six Amish families recently bought farms in southeastern South Dakota, making it the latest state to host an Amish colony.