Maddie awoke her first morning after leaving the farm, saying "oh no, it's true.... I am not at the farm anymore...!" and then ran back upstairs and into her bed to pull the covers up over her head with her farm hat on! Once she was coaxed into reality, Maddie held court for the family with all her wonderful stories of farm animals, friends, and her favorite....the creek walk! The sense of competence, environmental respect, and hands on learning and adventure offered each year at the farm is unmatched to any other camp experience. Thank you for allowing this slice of heaven to kids who love animals and farm life! It truly is a very special experience that she will remember forever.
Kathy M -- 2011
...more letters from participants
The Country School Farm is located in Holmes County, Ohio, where today’s Amish live much as they did a century ago. Located on forty acres of hills and valleys adjacent to Troyer's Hollow on the Doughty Creek, the farm is comprised of hayfields, pasture, and homestead with house, workshop, orchard, vineyard and organic gardens with annual and perennial herbs and vegetables. The nineteenth-century barn houses twenty Nubian dairy goats, storage for hay, straw, grain, a summer meeting place, and is home to bantams, layers, barn swallows, pigeons, a ‘herd’ of beloved barn cats and our cherished pugs. Work ponies and sheep occupy nearby pastures.
Woodland, thicket and hollow enclose the farm in a wildlife-sustaining ecology tucking it away in a cozy corner of the county. We have seen deer, raccoon, groundhog, muskrat, countless frogs and pond fish, turtles, red fox, cottontail rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, blue heron, Canada geese, mallard ducks, owls, pheasant, wild turkey, and red-tailed hawks to name a few.
Home to the world’s largest Amish settlement, the area supports a vigorous community of small, tidy, family farms. And, while the Barkers are not Amish, they enjoy many benefits from living among them. The neighbors adhere to a set of principles that inadvertently result in a society that is "people scaled." The assumptions of life are clear and relevant to everyone. People know what is coming next and, because of this, growing up is relatively stress free. Everyone is accepted for his or her own strengths and weaknesses. No one feels left out. The Amish live among people they can trust. Crime is almost nonexistent. Cradle-to-grave security is, for most, a reality. Sacrifices, perceived as germane to their way of life, mean that few join them voluntarily. Yet, living near them, we take positive lessons that influence us all.
The natural world is our earliest and most efficient teacher. Children are attracted to both the meaningful activity of the farm and to the involvement with living things that it implies. The experience of farm life is appropriate in these complex times and serves to link wilderness with civilization. For the child it points to "where things come from" and fosters a respect for nature, observational skills, foresight, a sense of responsibility, patience, and a deeper understanding of one's place among people. In the words of Maria Montessori, the child
". . .relives the cultural history of man who passed from the natural state to the civilized state through agriculture; when he discovered the secret of intensifying the production of the soil, he obtained the reward of civilization. This same path must be traversed by the child who is destined to become an adult."
Our young visitors actually live this reality. This is not a demonstration farm or camp, nor is it for troubled children. Each child contributes to the well-being of all, developing the ability to work with others, fostering habits essential for membership in society; a sense of honesty and fair play. Those who join us enjoy animals the out-of-doors. Our livestock include rabbits, pigs, dairy goats, sheep, work ponies, dogs, cats, ferrets, peafowl, hens and bantams. Other activities include the garden and orchard, food preparation, farm repairs and improvements. We bring hay into the barn, make firewood, shell and winnow corn, gather wild berries and herbs,and experience sensible land, water and waste management. And, there is plenty of time to just be on the farm. For the well-being of all, the rules are clear. The perception of freedom is great. Children recall tales of the farm throughout the year.
© 1976-2013 The Country School Farm