Several months ago Amy Gingerich, our editorial director, told you about Lovina’s Amish Kitchen–our new venture syndicating newspaper columnist Lovina Eicher. (She had previously written for 12 years as The Amish Cook, handled by a different syndicate.)
So in a step of faith, we launched her new column in July, started a website for it, and began a Facebook page and Twitter account. It is so curious and fascinating to personally use some of the newest media and technologies available while working alongside a writer who writes by gaslight and pen and paper. (I know, there are things lots newer than Twitter, but we’re running as fast as we can to keep up!)
We’ve been buoyed and excited to see the growth of Lovina’s Facebook page for the column. Some of her friends with access to technology keep her a bit in the loop, so even though she does not engage directly through these electronic media, she knows what’s going on, responds to letters sent to her with a self-addressed stamped envelope, and is deeply grateful for the outpouring of support.
This past Monday the Facebook page for Lovina’s Amish Kitchen passed 1000 likes, which is a nice big marker. When Amy sent word to Lovina to let her know about the 1000 likes, she was extremely gladdened as well. It is amazing because we have not done anything special to promote the Facebook page: we have not purchased ads, have not run contests, have not begged people to like it (other than when it first launched, a few staff sent the typical “suggested likes” to some friends). It has grown organically, one “like” at a time.
Can you spot the dog? Izzy, the Eicher family pet, celebrates 1000 FB likes in the autumn leaves.
Curious, we posted a little poll on Facebook. Some 46 people responded to this question:
We love that this Facebook page is growing very fast and are curious as to how you find it. Comment please? 1. From a newspaper where you now read Lovina’s column 2. From the website for Lovina’s Amish Kitchen 3. Just from being a longtime reader/fan 4. When a friend of yours likes the page or shares it 5. Random — you don’t know
Here is how people responded:
- From a newspaper where you now read Lovina’s column – 6 2. From the website for Lovina’s Amish Kitchen – 7 3. Just from being a longtime reader/fan – 11 4. When a friend of yours likes the page or shares it – 7 5. Random — you don’t know – 2
Of course some of these “stock” answers did not fit all situations so there were these additional categories that I grouped together.
- Searching online – 4 7. Came up on Facebook – 11 8. All of the above – 1 9. Other – 1
The fact that many are longtime fans (and some listed multiple numbers for their response) did not surprise me. Many had previously followed Lovina’s mother’s column. (Before Lovina wrote as The Amish Cook, her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, was the author of that column.) What did surprise me was that her page came up as a suggestion on Facebook. Like I said, we did not buy ads or sponsor the suggestions, so apparently the algorithms connected to people already liking other Amish-related Facebook pages caused the suggested “like” to show up.
To read the actual comments from fans, you can like Lovina’s Amish Kitchen Facebook page and go to October 24. You’ll find some fun and interesting comments, including from friends, relatives, neighbors. My favorite was a comment from Cherie Kreutziger:
“Always used to see her column on another Amish site … used to race home from work to read her letter and see the recipe. When I didn’t see it, I was rather upset. LOVE it … thank you for getting her on the net and sharing on Facebook. Now I can visit her website each and every day and reread maybe what I didn’t see the 1st time. Thanks again. God bless.”
While we run two other Facebook pages with over 1000 likes (this morning MennoMedia has 1768 and Third Way has 1123), Lovina’s has grown the fastest and we hope and trust the trend will only continue. (If you’ve joined Facebook, we appreciate you liking these pages as well. It’s one small free thing you can do to help support this ministry!)
Why go on about this? What does the popularity of this column and Facebook page say about our culture’s fascination with the simple and hardworking life of our cousins in the Anabaptist faith tradition? Is it our yearning for simplicity, faith, values, family? All of the above? What do you detect?
At MennoMedia and our book imprint Herald Press, we don’t see ourselves jumping on a recent bandwagon. Over the years, we have published dozens of titles relating to Amish, plain, and conservative Anabaptist groups, helping people understand and interpret this precious and Christian heritage. Just last week one of our editors, Valerie Weaver-Zercher, wrote about our newest book series, Plainspoken, but before that there were many other titles. Below is just a sampling of them.
- Amish Cooking (no longer in print)
Nonfiction and memoir:
Lovina’s columns really function as a letter from home. In our society, that’s almost a relic. Will your children have letters from you? Lovina’s columns all end with a recipe—the promise of a good home-cooked dish or treat. Will your children have memories of home-cooked dishes you served?
Lovina’s column hits on two basics of our stock in trade: faith and food. I wouldn’t want to live without either. Would you?
Melodie Davis, author of Whatever Happened to Dinner?, editor, columnist