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Farm Documentary Brings Biodiversity Lessons to Big Screen
Posted 05/17/2019 12:32PM

On Monday, May 13th, Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences students in 3rd through 8th grade traveled to Arc Light Cinemas in North Bethesda for a private viewing of ‘The Biggest Little Farm.’ The documentary, which opened in theaters on May 10th, follows the journey of John and Molly Chester as they leave city life behind and set out to establish a farm in harmony with nature. Barnesville parents and Kindergarten Teacher, Jodi Popielaski, graduated from the same high school in Ocean City, Maryland as John Chester and was able to arrange this special viewing for Barnesville students.

The film chronicles the process of creating a biodynamic farm from virtually barren soil, and demonstrates how every animal, plant, pest and even animal waste serves a purpose, contributing to a self-sustaining life cycle. Teachers and students enjoyed learning how John and Molly, along with Emma the pig, Todd the dog, and Greasy the rooster, worked through the many challenges of creating a biodiverse farm.

After the movie, the students spent time discussing the themes in the film, including the farming methods used, how the farm was impacted positively and negatively by wildlife and weather, and how failure led to creative solutions. Third graders spent time designing their own biggest little farm with partners.

“I think it was important for the students to see that in order to achieve success in creating and running a farm, there was a trial-and-error process that took years of hard work,” commented Tara Barnhart, Middle School Language Arts Teacher and Arts & Sciences Coordinator who has led the School’s Green School efforts.

As a MAEOE certified Green School, Barnesville incorporates environmental education into its curriculum across all grade levels. This spring Barnesville students have been working to create their own gardens around campus. Earlier this year, eighth grade math students teamed up with the Arts & Sciences Task Force to re-design the School’s raised garden beds. Lower School classes were each assigned an area in one of the beds for planting. Fourth grade also planted a pumpkin patch in another area of campus, and they hope to harvest pumpkins in the fall.

Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences is an independent private school in Montgomery County, Maryland offering innovative preschool through 8th grade programs. Cross-curricular teaching encourages students to explore how subjects relate to one another, helping them to make connections that spark inquiry and deepen understanding. Small classes enable skilled teachers to engage each child in an academically challenging environment. Our 30-acre campus is our extended classroom, and we integrate nature into everyday learning.  



An independent private school in
Montgomery County, Maryland
offering innovative preschool
through 8th grade programs.

Barnesville School

21830 Peach Tree Road
PO Box 404
Barnesville, MD 20838

p: 301.972.0341
f: 301.972.4076


We offer a vigorous academic program for students as well as engaging, hands-on learning experiences.


Our positive, supportive learning environment promotes imagination, exploration, personal growth, and achievement.

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