Teacher hosts lessons in sustainable living for ages 3 and 4 in Old Town

Last September, former Forest Grove Community School teacher Sherry Reuter took the plunge into a new venture by opening Urban Farm Preschool on her property in Old Town Forest Grove.

Now seven children — all age 3 or 4 — are enrolled and learning about chickens, rabbits and organic gardening as they play their way through morning sessions indoors and out. Since the preschool opened its doors last fall, pupils have pressed apple cider, played with kittens, made frosting with beet juice, learned about baby chicks and chased a hen named Matilda around the grounds.

“My goals are to give children the opportunity to connect with nature through free play outside in our yard and to learn about where their food comes from through hands-on organic gardening learning activities,” said Reuter, who added that she’s thinking about starting an afternoon session — from 12:50 to 3:10 p.m. — in February that would have a limit of six children.

Patterned after the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool and primary education, Reuter’s program is based on the principles of respect, responsibility and community through exploration and discovery. Her nature- and play-based curriculum is “child-centered, not teacher-directed,” according to the preschool’s Facebook page.

Besides outdoor play and learning, other activities include library time, dress-up drama, read-alouds, sensory activities and scientific observation.

Urban Farm holds classes for on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Reuter, who taught first- and second-grade at the community school for six years, is certified in permaculture (a sustainable agriculture approach) and is a master gardener.

The seven-to-one student-to-teacher ratio is a welcome change for Reuter. “A class size of seven compared to 21 sure is a different experience,” she said.

Urban Farm Preschool is located at 2515 18th Ave. To learn more, email Reuter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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