March 2009 Issue
“Green” is big business in Ohio. Throughout the state, Ohio-based companies are selling products that can help you and your family live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, all while retaining the style you want at a price that’s nice. For doing your part to save the Earth, Lehman’s and Homestead, both located in northeast Ohio’s Amish Country, are sure bets — each of these home-goods stores boasts innovative products and ideas that can help eco-conscious Ohioans.
Lehman’s, located in Kidron in Wayne County, believes in offering products that are “Great for the Environment, Good for You.” The family-owned company sells nonelectric goods, including push mowers, gardening tools, wood-burning stoves and old-fashioned toys. The business was founded in an attempt to continue the traditions of the local Amish community.
“My father had a tremendous amount of respect for the Amish, and he saw that their way of life was going to disappear if there was no one catering to it,” explains Glenda Lehman Ervin, vice president, marketing. “My mother churned butter, and so I know how. Consequently, my daughter knows how, too. If we don’t continue these quite basic, old-fashioned practices, future generations will not learn.”
Though the initial concept was more cultural preservation than environmental conservation, Lehman’s products fit both needs. “We are selling the same things that my father sold in 1955,” Lehman Ervin says. “There are now the same needs, but for different reasons. Before, the store catered to the Amish community. Now we cater to 25-year-old MBAs living in Manhattan.”
All of Lehman’s products are great for people who are concerned with reducing their environmental impact, but they’re also ideal for those who are concerned with saving money in the long term. Wood-burning stoves, for example, “pay for themselves within three years of use and will last you for 20,” Lehman Ervin says. In addition, items purchased at Lehman’s are easy to fix. With the push mower, explains Lehman Ervin, “if it’s not working, you’re not walking!”
Also popular are wooden drying racks, which not only save money, but also your clothes. “The lint that’s being collected in your dryer,” explains Lehman Ervin, “is your clothing gradually falling apart.”
Those who wish to go “green” by starting a garden will appreciate Lehman’s, too. The store features a wide variety of nonelectric gardening tools, from the push mowers to Amish-made hoes, composters, fruit harvesters, rotary cultivators, seed spreaders and old-fashioned corn planters. When it’s time to preserve all that’s been planted, Lehman’s provides food-processing items such as home pressure canners, food dehydrators and a great selection of jars and lids.
Lehman’s doesn’t just help you save the environment and money, however. The store also explains in great detail how to do so. “We have the what — the canning supplies and so on — but we also have the why and the how,” Lehman Ervin says.
To find tips on “going green” and product information, visit www.lehmans.com or call 877/438-5346.
Craftsmanship and Sustainability
Home furnishings don’t get more “green” than the furniture made by Homestead, an Amish-owned and -operated business in Mt. Hope in Holmes County. The company produces hand-tooled, solid hardwood furniture made to last generations.
“Everything that’s solid hardwood is great for those who are concerned with shopping in an environmentally friendly way,” says Homestead’s owner, Ernest Hershberger.
The Homestead complex includes a 27,000-square-foot retail store and showroom and an adjacent 24,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. The company is a founding member of the Sustainable Furniture Council and abides by its standards; sources its raw materials from renewable forests in the Great Lakes region; and is consistently searching for ways to produce furniture in a more environmentally aware way.
“We were green before it was cool to be green,” Hershberger says. “We didn’t change a thing about our production process in recent years. We’ve always had themes of earth consciousness in our manufacturing.”
Homestead sells a wide variety of furniture, including dining room sets, bedroom sets, sofas, entertainment centers, mirrors, wine racks and home offices. The store also offers home accessories, many American-made, because, Hershberger notes, “the [environmentally friendly] choices overseas are few right now.
“All furniture is completely custom-made,” Hershberger adds. “We will not say no. If you can dream it, and we can find the wood, we can build it.” Homestead has customers in nearly every state and a half-dozen countries. Finished products usually take six weeks or less to build.
Ongoing environmental efforts include the furniture-finishing process; Homestead is working toward using water-based stains for its furniture and solar heat and skylights in the plant, as well as recycling leftover wood scraps. One of Homestead’s upholstery lines is also certified green, an impressive fact considering that only a handful of sources worldwide meet the standards set for foam and fabrics.
Tours of Homestead’s facilities provide visitors with a glimpse into its earth-friendly traditions. A highlight is a visit to the property where the company is planting hardwood trees that will be used in furniture production. An on-site lodge is currently being built that will run on solar, wind and hydro power.
For more information or to view Homestead’s custom-made furniture, visit www.homesteadfurnitureonline.com or call 866/674-4902.