© STEVE SHARRATT/THE GUARDIAN
Brad Oliver says the Amish families planning to relocate to Prince Edward Island are looking forward to living and farming in rural P.E.I.
MONTAGUE - Realtor Brad Oliver isn't horsing around when revealing plans to install a hitching post outside his office this spring.
It's one of the more subtle changes coming to Kings County as community members prepare to welcome a large population of Amish moving to the province from Ontario.
Oliver said it will soon be common to see horse-drawn buggies travelling on roads throughout central eastern P.E.I.
"My office is downtown by the bank and stores, and they'll need somewhere to tie up," said Oliver. "The very first ones intend to be here in the springtime to plant crops and put up some buildings... right now they're back and forth all the time."
Oliver said there are currently 10 farms that have either been sold or have contracts in place with Amish families.
Those farms are in areas just east of Vernon River around the county line through to New Perth, Summerville, Greenfield and Victoria Cross.
Other areas include around Cardigan, Dundas and Bridgetown.
The influx is a welcome sight for many in Kings County, which is sparsely populated.
Oliver, who began talks with the Amish in the summer of 2013, said there are about 18,000 residents in Kings County, including about 2,000 Buddhist monks.
"There's nobody out here anymore," he said. "What we have (with the Amish) are people who want to go back out onto the farms, people who want to live in rural P.E.I. and farm."
Reg Phelan, the Maritimes regional co-ordinator for the National Farmers Union, said the arrival of the Amish will be interesting to see and expected it would bring benefits to Island agriculture.
"They farm in a very ecologically friendly way and diversify agriculture. I think it will be good for the land," he said. "It can help revitalize the area, and hopefully it will brighten up government and other policy makers to support the young farmers here."
The Amish are traditionalist Christian fellowships, which are similar but also distinct from Mennonites.
They're often known for their simple living, which excludes most modern technology and electricity.
The Amish faith is also divided into many smaller communities, which range from a couple of families to more than a hundred.
"Each community has their own rules and things, they tend to stay to themselves," said Oliver. "In fact, the two groups that are settling here are purposely leaving a buffer zone between themselves."
Oliver said he believes more Amish families will eventually follow the original 10 moving to P.E.I.
"I could sell another 10 farms today if I had the right farms. There's a lot of interest."