Farm to Early Care & Education 

Cultivating Farm to Early Care & Education Across Iowa will seek to create a model and means for replication in early education settings throughout Iowa and the nation. 

What is Farm to Early Care and Education?

Farm to Early Care & Education a collection of strategies for connecting young children to healthy food and opportunities for physcial activity.  These may include; incorporating local foods in meals and snacks, taste tests activities, nutrition lessons, gardening field trips, on-site gardening, and cooking activities. This is an extension of the farm to school movement, focusing on the specific learning styles, needs, and environments that young children learn and grow in. Farm to early care and education has been shown to flourish in a variety of environments with the three core elements; 

Education- There are several specially designed curricula ready to go. See some below in the resources section. These topics can be provider and teacher led, or they can be delivered by a guest speaker like a farmer, community gardener, or other local food expert.

Gardens- Gardens come in all shapes and sizes! Some centers and childcare development homes start with container gardens and then move towards raised beds or even larger gardens. Thinking about safety of small children is important when designing these spaces, but there are lots of ways to start small. 

Procurement- Including local produce and products into the meals, snacks, and even taste tests for children. These items can be purchased through a prime distributor, at a farmer's market or farmers stand, or directly with a farmer in your area.

Why do we do it?

All three elements closely align with the learning styles of young children. The activities help children achieve the learning milestones important to their unique age and help them to be ready for school. They also improve the overall health and wellness of the environment by increasing opportunities for physical activity and access to fresh foods. 

Who does it impact?

Farm to early care and education can comprehensively affect communities. Children are able to explore their environments in a way that helps them learn healthy eating behaviors. Families are benefited as they have the opportunity to connect with local food producers and try new foods together. Communities are positively affected when economic support is invested locally. 

We want to hear from you!

Are you currently doing any farm to early care and education activities with your kids? Are you interest in starting? Have you tried some things but are looking for ways to add more? Please let us know ways that we can support you. 

Contact: Kelly Hanson, Kelly@iowaaeyc.org (515) 331-8000 ext. 107

 

 

Resources

 

Funding for Fiscal Year 2017 (July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017) comes from:
W. K. Kellogg Foundation