In 1990 The Orchard School and Community Center was founded by three friends, Eleanor Elbers, Kathy Torrey, and Kathleen Vetter, who shared a vision of a community place for gathering, growing and learning. They joined resources and work, and held preschool classes in a converted apartment above a woodworking shop and in the home of one of the teachers for three years. The demand for diverse needs childcare made it clear that the community needed the school, and the school needed its own home to have space for the increasing numbers of students wanting to partake in the school’s offerings.



In February of 1994, planning started in earnest for a broad-based volunteer effort to erect a 2500 square foot building. The Elbers farm that the founders chose as a site had already been the nexus of a farm/village community since 1971. The following summer, over 275 people from near and far contributed more than 3,000 hours, and by September The Orchard School was able to open its new doors.

Over the course of that year, leadership and responsibility were shared by a group of builders comprised of parents of Orchard School students, community members, teachers and their husbands. Their spirit of goodwill and cooperation formed the most important foundation of our school and of the building that now houses The Orchard School & Community Center.

“We, Anton and I and our extended family, lived this farm and community work… from our meeting in 1971. We never took a break or moved away or stopped. It began as a vision but became our life.”

Eleanor Elbers, Co-Founder