Sharing farm life with children for two generations.

Summer 2018

The Barkers and The Country School Farm


The Idea

In 1970 the founding Barkers (Richard and Penny) traveled to London, England where both became Montessori teachers. While there, they learned that Dr. Maria Montessori, a pioneer in early childhood education, suggested the farm experience, (or erdkinder) for the emerging adolescent. Her proposal paralleled England’s WWII discovery of the educational value of the farm when teachers and children were evacuated to the safety of the countryside. The experience was so powerful that after the war, there was a grass roots move away from predominantly abstract studies towards experiential learning. The result was improvement in both social and academic achievement. This became known as the British Integrated Day. As the Open Classroom, the principles were incorporated into school systems worldwide. This was Richard and Penny’s inspiration and their work continues at The Country School Farm to this day.


The Beginning

Following their training, Richard and Penny directed the Canton Montessori School in Ohio for eight years. In 1975 Jonah/Pat Sherry 1978they purchased a farmstead in nearby Holmes County and hosted their first children. Home to the world’s largest settlement of old-order Amish with their simplified technology, Holmes County was the perfect setting. While not Amish, the Barkers and their young visitors would benefit from living amongst these gentle people. The neighborhood contributed in two ways: First, Amish life is people scaled and because of this is understandable, even to young children. Second, since it is based on the productivity of the land, its activities are meaningful. For the Barkers and their charges the significance of the farm would be personally experienced in real time. Children return home with dirty clothes, inspiration and ideas, not samples.


The Design

Within this early American model and guided by Montessori’s belief in the power of the well-designed environment, activities at the farm are never created for educational purposes as such, but rather to meet the practical needs of the farm. A by-product is the fostering of physical, mental, civic and emotional growth. The caretaking of living things is a direct exercise in becoming civilized.



Forty-one years have passed and the Barkers continue sharing the hidden lessons and fun of farm life. The times are different, but the project is even more relevant today.


Contact Us

As our neighborhood is predominantly Amish, telephone usage is limited.
You may email us at or write to us at the address below.

The Country School Farm
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The Barkers, 3516 Township Road 124, Becks Mills, Ohio 44654 ~

Last Update: 4/2/18
© 2017 The Country School Farm, LLC