Judith Horn Harlan, a teacher and co-owner of a Harford County farm she opened to students and families, died of cancer Saturday at Stella Maris Hospice. The Fallston resident was 64.
Born Judith Horn in Louisville, Ky., she earned a bachelor's degree in education at the University of Louisville and taught in that city for 16 years. In 1983, after her 1979 marriage to Bill Harlan, she moved to Fallston's Belvedere Farm, a 100-acre vegetable and grain operation that his family had owned since the 1820s.
In the late 1980s, she began growing and selling vegetables from a stand at the farm, and a decade later she started hosting preschool children at her farm.
"I enjoy working with children and as my husband said, we had an underutilized teacher and an underutilized barn," she told a Sun reporter in 1993. "So we created a farm setting inside the barn as a learning laboratory."
Over the course of 14 years, about 50,000 students, parents and teachers visited Belvedere Farm.
"The hour-long tour is a primer on farm life - everything from shucking and shelling corn to feeding livestock," The Sun's 1993 article said. "Springtime visits begin in the barn, where children sit on straw. Mrs. Harlan explains that a barn is used to store hay bales for farm animals to eat and straw for them to sleep on. It is also a home for birds, she said. The barn swallows that nest high in the rafters return every year from their winter homes in South America."
Mrs. Harlan also opened her farm on October weekends so families could take hayrides through fields to pick pumpkins and visit the farm animals. She and her husband sold dried flowers, Indian corn, honey, apples and cider in the fall.
In 1999 she started growing field-cut flowers, selling them to individuals, designers and florists in the Baltimore and Washington markets.
Family members said that she was guided by words she spoke: "It's got to be done right."
Mrs. Harlan was active in the agricultural community as a board member of the Harford County Agricultural Marketing Cooperative and the Economic Development Agricultural Advisory Board. She was a Harford Friends School founding board member.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Little Falls Friends Meeting, 719 Old Fallston Road, Fallston.
In addition to her husband, survivors include a son, W. Ross Shellhamer of Glen Arm; a stepson, Clifford Harlan of San Francisco; and a stepdaughter, Beth Harlan of El Cerrito, Calif. A previous marriage ended in divorce.