Farm to Education and Early Care is an initiative that grew out of the Farm to School movement and encompasses a wide range of programs and activities. It strives to encourage young children to like eating fresh fruits and vegetables while their preferences are still forming. It also encourages healthy choices in children throughout their lives by offering experiences with good nutrition and hands-on education through cooking and gardening. Farm to Preschool also improves access to healthy food at home and in the community.
Farm to Early Care and Education Programs Include:
- Edible School Gardens
- Cooking with Kids
- Taste Tests
- Farm Field Trips
- Nutrition Education
- Involving Parents and the Community
The Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Coalition is a network that joins stakeholders in early care, food, farming, and nutrition to coalesce resources, support farm to early care and education, and create a dialogue for building statewide programming. Check out the 2017-2020 Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Strategic Plan to see the initiatives Georgia Organics and our partners are working on and how to connect with available resources and programming. In 2017, Georgia Organics, The Common Market, Little Ones Learning Center, Quality Care for Children, and Voices for Georgia’s Children created the Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This multi-year initiative offers hands-on education in nutrition, cooking, gardening, and promotion of local foods to participating early care providers while disseminating replicable resources for providers across the state.
Georgia Farm to ECE Partners are committed to addressing root causes of food system inequities as a means of creating viable food systems solutions that combat disparities existing among children and their families. Racial equity in the food system will be achieved when race and other socio-economic factors no longer determine food systems outcomes. These outcomes include access to food system jobs and opportunities, access to farmland, access to healthy and nutritious food as well as access to good labor practices and fair wages.
For more information on the Coalition or Collaborative, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Resources
- Local Food for Little Eaters in Georgia: Learn how to purchase local food from farmers and distributors within the CACFP guidelines.
- Georgia Harvest of the Month Calendar: Highlight a Georgia grown item monthly using the Harvest of the Month Calendar.
- Harvest of the Month Toolkit: This toolkit includes kid-tested recipes and GELD linked lessons for exploring apples, carrots, kale, and sweet potatoes with early care students.
- Georgia Farm to Early Care and Education Crosswalk: The Crosswalk shows how farm to ECE activities can align with indicators in the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale 3 (ECERS 3), the instrument used by early learning providers to assess process quality in preschool (3 to 5 year old) classrooms.
- These Georgia farms offer field trips for child care centers and schools.
- Farm to Early Care and Education Frequently Asked Questions Guide from Bright from the Start: Georgia Dept. of Early Care and Learning.
- Planting Guidelines from Bright from the Start. Georgia’s Bright from the Start child care licensing rules indicate that child care facilities must be free of plants and shrubs which are poisonous or hazardous.
- University of Georgia Extension: Contact your county extension office to find your agent. Extension agents are excellent resources for garden questions and Family and Consumer Science (FACS) Agents often coordinate nutrition education opportunities.
- Georgia Dept. of Public Health: Contact your Public Health District representative to find out about nutrition education initiatives and programs in your area.
Farm to Early Care and Education Resources
- The National Farm to School Network has a comprehensive website on Farm to Early Care and Education resources. For a quick overview of Farm to Preschool, check out this one-pager.
- Growing Farm to Preschool in Your State: A How to Guide: This guide from Ecotrust outlines the approach to creating a statewide farm to preschool coalition.
- Local Foods and Related Activities in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): Farm to preschool resources from the USDA Food and Nutrition Services.
- Improving Early Care Obesity Prevention through the Child and Adult Care Food Program profiles child care programs across the country that are using CACFP to improve the nutrition quality of meals and snacks.
- Better Kid Care’s On Demand Distance Education program offers professional development modules that can be applied for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Several modules focus on farm to preschool and early care.
- Grow It, Try It, Like It! Fun with Fruits and Vegetables is a free curriculum resource from USDA’s Team Nutrition. It is a garden-themed nutrition education kit for child care center staff that introduces children to three fruits (peaches, strawberries, and cantaloupe) and three vegetables (spinach, sweet potatoes, and crookneck squash).
- Farm to Childcare Curriculum Package includes activity ideas and ways to highlight a new local food item every two weeks.
- Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings, from the New York Department of Health, is a downloadable nutrition and physical activity curriculum.
- Harvest of the Month includes activities for children three years through pre-k.
- The Preschool Initiative: Building a Healthy Foundation for Life covers a lot of farm to preschool concepts, including ideas for teaching nutrition and physical activity.
- Let’s Move! Childcare includes curriculum and other resources to support healthy changes in early care centers.
- These lesson plans from Growing Minds are organized by season and many feature specific fruits and veggies.
- How’s it Growing? This resource includes lessons on seeds, plant parts, wiggly worms, sprouts, planning and caring for the garden, and cooking what you grow!
- Multicultural Collection of Farm to Early Care and Education Books: The Food Trust’s multicultural collection of farm to ECE books highlights children’s books that feature characters from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. These books cover a wide variety of farm to ECE related topics including gardening, farms, cooking, family meals, farmers markets, shopping for food, and more
Edible School Gardens
- VIDEO: Using the Garden as an Educational Tool
- VIDEO: Building a Garden for Preschoolers
- This great guide will show you how to start a preschool garden.
Cooking with Kids
- VIDEO: Cooking with Preschoolers
- VIDEO: Seasonal Snacks for Preschoolers
- Find a chef in your area who will visit your center here.
- General information on cooking with kids. This resource from the California Dept. of Public Health includes basic cooking abilities of young children, safety tips, and recipes.
- Let’s Cook with Kids! This cookbook has tons of healthy recipes that are easy to prepare with kids. Kids and adults alike will love these!
- Quick and Easy Child-Friendly Recipes
- Kids Can Cook–And Learning is the Secret Ingredient! This resource from Pennsylvania includes simple recipes and tasks that are appropriate for children from babies to five year olds.
- More resources about cooking with young children here.
Local Food Procurement
- Local Food for Little Eaters in Georgia: This toolkit details how Georgia early care providers can purchase and use more local foods while following Child and Adult Care Program (CACFP) regulations. The toolkit is also useful for providers not currently participating in CACFP.
- Sourcing Directory–Farm to Early Care Sourcing Solutions: Local Food Delivery Options
- Local Foods in the Child and Adult Care Food Program with Questions and Answers: This memo from USDA answers many questions about how centers using CACFP are able to procure local food for their programs.
- VIDEO: Local Food Procurement in Child Care Centers
- Check out these tips for getting started in local food procurement.
- Find a local farmers markets to connect with here.
- Check out this assessment of local food delivery models from a program in Washington. It includes several types of delivery models, their successes and challenges, and considerations for future efforts.
- Search these recipes for Child Care Providers to find delicious, nutritious food to serve your children.
Resources in Spanish
- Our First Harvest/Nuestra Primera Cosecha is a bilingual, year round guide to growing and tasting food in the garden with young children. Note, this guide is available for purchase.
- Together We Grow Healthy Kids curriculum from the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative includes lessons in English and Spanish.