Small-town shops, country charm in Amish country

A visit to Lancaster County, Pa., turns up more than square black buggies

A visit to Lancaster County, Pa., turns up more than square black buggies

September 06, 2005|By FEDORA COPLEY

With vast soybean fields next door, Green Acres Bed and Breakfast is rightly named. The B&B is in Mount Joy, Pa., an Amish community in Lancaster County, but when I visited the area this summer, the area's charm went beyond black buggies rolling on the roadside.

Green Acres is full of colors, not just green. The gardens around the old farmhouse are beautifully full and alive. In the midst of one garden stands a bed frame, painted red, with flowers growing from it ? a flower bed. Kittens scramble in and around the gardens. Next to the B&B's barn, donkeys, sheep and goats graze in a paddock.

Owner Yvonne Miller watches over her bed and breakfast with a grandmotherly concern. She has a long history in hospitality. When Miller was a young girl, she lived in the area and saw roadwalkers pass her house. Miller's mother would cook them up an egg sandwhich and some instant coffee, and tell the little girl to give the food and a gospel tract to the roadwalker. That was Miller's first involvement in hospitality.


"Suddenly it hit me," says Miller, "I've been doing this since I was 4."

Head into the country

I visited Lancaster County with my mother and a French exchange student, Sophie Colleau. Soon after we arrived at Green Acres B&B, Miller's husband, Wayne, who owns the house and was born in it, took us and other guests for a hayride.

Close to the B&B we saw new houses with well-kept lawns ? something you could find in the city. Fumes from the tractor bothered our noses.

But after we turned onto a winding road, the houses became much more interesting. Tall trees shaded the road, while a creek ran alongside. We saw a covered bridge. The tractor fumes weren't so bad when we had fun, interesting things to look at.

For dinner, we drove to the Country Table in Mount Joy. Many of the tables were filled, and it was a large space. Our waitress was cheery and the food was generally good. We had small complaints ? the chicken was a bit grizzly, the mashed potatoes were gummy ? but it had a friendly atmosphere and fun wait staff.

Peaceful, easy feeling

In the evening, we sat on Green Acres' back porch and listened to music played by another guest. The kittens played around us and were a big hit.

Later, we went into the house to talk to Miller, who was preparing the next day's breakfast. The kitchen is a sight to behold ? remodeled in a Civil War-era style, with polished brick floor, high wooden ceiling, red trim and small door for wood storage where the fireplace used to be. Knick-knacks, tea pots and mugs line shelves and baskets hang from the rafters. The whole room is rich with patterns and colors.

There are seven rooms at Green Acres, all uniquely decorated. each with its own name. We stayed in the Canopy, which had lacy upholstery, a Victorian-style canopy bed and dresser and elegant decorations. Also, it had a private bathroom.

For breakfast there was quite a variety of tasty foods ? scrambled eggs, yummy summer sausage, French toast, butter and "maple" syrup.

Miller makes the food herself with help from a local Amish woman. One recipe she made herself ? a sort of egg casserole with layers of potatoes, cubed smoked turkey, egg and biscuit mix. Very moist and tasty.

Very filling, and then there was dessert! Streudel-topped coffeecake and mixed fresh fruit. I couldn't even try them, I was so full. Instead, the three of us fed leftover French toast to the donkeys and collected chicken eggs. Then we said goodbye to Green Acres.

Charming shops

We drove about 10 miles to Lititz, a fun town full of street life and unusual stores. We walked around the funky downtown shopping district with Jasper, my tiny, white, mixed-terrier dog.

First we went to Wilbur Chocolate, which I was very excited about. A factory just for chocolate! It was a smallish facility but packed with fun things to eat, look at and read. We saw candy molds, old-fashioned tools and chocolate-making machinery, a movie about cocoa beans and how chocolate is made, and big copper kettles in which there must have been tons and tons of chocolate.

There was a constant thrum of machinery in the background, and an ever present smell of chocolate. I tried an amaretto-filled, dark chocolate truffle. Although good, it was much too sweet for my liking.

We next visited the Herb Shop, which has been around for 27 years. A strong scent of spices welcomed us. The shop sells a variety of teas, crockery, condiments, soaps, balms and potpourri. My 5-pound dog, Jasper, was welcome inside, as long as he was held.

Next we visited the Lilypad, a garden apparel store which also carried lotions, soaps, smell-good accesories and natural balms. The store features a pretty light green theme. Again, Jasper was welcome.

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