June 17, 2024

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The Amish farmer commutes daily to bring produce to his store in New York City

The Amish farmer commutes daily to bring produce to his store in New York City

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Amish eyes smiling on the Upper West Side.

Millport Dairythe first truly Amish-owned brick-and-mortar store in the five boroughs, opened May 1 on Broadway between 97th and 98th Streets.

The store is run by John Stoltzfus – who remains friendly despite the nightmare of commuting.

Amish farmer John Stoltzfus holds pickled eggs and dill spears in his Upper West Side storefront called Millport Dairy. Helen Seidman
The popular store opened on May 1. Helen Seidman

Stoltzfus, 58, an Amish man with an impressive beard and wearing suspenders and a wide-brimmed hat, travels six hours a day every Wednesday through Saturday to shuttle back and forth between Manhattan and his family’s farm in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

Stoltzfus wakes up before 3 a.m. and relies on a hired driver — since the Amish are forbidden from driving cars or operating most modern technology — to transport him and a truckload of fresh goods safely to the Big Apple.

The store opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m

However, the Millport Dairy store was closed last Thursday, and horrified customers arrived to find a note taped to the inside of the door: “We went fishing.”

Stoltzfoos’ face should be familiar to regulars at the city’s vegetable market.

He sold his family’s farm-to-table meats, dairy products, baked goods, Lots of noise Ethically producing organic eggs at various NYC farmers markets for over 18 years.

But in January, Stoltzfus disappeared from the farmers market scene, much to the dismay of his loyal customers.

Stoltzfoos has “the best eggs ever,” according to one customer. Helen Seidman
Stoltzfoos have sold well in New York City for 18 years. Helen Seidman

Stoltzfus said GrowNYC Rules and Policies He became overly restrictive, limiting the types of items he could sell, and so he, along with Lancaster County farm owner and uncle John King, began searching for viable storefronts.

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“At farmers markets,” like the one in Union Square, where he was a fixture, “sometimes, you set up your umbrella in the pouring rain, and then, your truck gets unloaded and then, everything gets loaded back in,” Stoltzfus explained. Again. “Now, I just open and close the door.”

On a recent sunny afternoon, people were steadily milling in and out of the store, which was formerly a dry cleaning business.

Stoltzfoos doesn’t take a horse and buggy to work; He has someone drive him to New York City. AFP via Getty Images

Many — including Diane Wan, 72 — immediately recognized the Stoltzfoos, and left with everything from pickled okra, pork rolls, and asparagus to schaffle pies, pumpkin bread, duck eggs and GMO-free eggs. “I’m so glad you’re here,” Wan announced.

“They have the best eggs ever,” said Harriet Hoffman, 83, who lives nearby. “I will never eat eggs from the supermarket again. Quality is really what I came here for.”

This all-horse-powered Pennsylvania dairy is also known for its butter and cheeses, including Colby, Parmesan, and horseradish.

Diana Wan, 72, works at a Millport dairy. Helen Seidman
The store sells baked goods, such as whole wheat bread. Helen Seidman
Pickled vegetables are very popular with Millport Dairy customers. Helen Seidman

Stoltzfoos would not comment on how much Millport Farm is paying to rent the space, but said he hopes to keep the store running “for the next 10 years — maybe 20 years, God willing.”

He also did not reveal his driver’s salary.

“We get the whole family involved, even the kids,” Stoltzfus said, adding that what they learn from working on the farm “is an education for them.” The ladies at the farm make the baked goods, including oatmeal bars, gingerbread cookies and zucchini bread, “with love and care,” he said.

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The store also carries strawberries, yogurt, smoked pork chops, kielbasa, and even chorizo.

“Well, the Amish like a little spice, too,” Stoltzfus said with a smile.




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