Our farm to school work began in 2008 and was an extension of our farmer-buyer networking events. Most recently, we've focused on expanding our existing networks and partnerships to reach our state's youngest children.
What is Farm to Child Care, more broadly referred to as Farm to Early Care & Education?
Farm to Early Care & Education (ECE) is a nationwide movement to connect childcare providers and young children with local farmers for the purpose of providing healthy meals and snacks, as well as incorporating local food themes into childcare curriculum and activities. The goal is to develop lifelong healthy eating behaviors and community vitality by strengthening regional food systems. Easy, fun and affordable changes can be the first steps toward healthier children, communities, and landscapes.
Trainers, providers, and other early childhood educators: Download this PDF to learn more about Renewing the Countryside's Farm to Child Care workshops.
We continue to provide coaching, technical assistance, and support to early care & education providers at all types of settings. Please reach out if you're interested in our consulting services.
Direct coaching and technical assistance:
In 2019, our staff are working on a number of projects, including collaborations in St. Paul and Southeastern (Greater Minnesota) communities to provide one-on-one Farm to ECE assistance to providers at a variety of settings. Contact us at grace at rtcinfo dot org with questions or to learn more.
Farm to Child Care Club:
In 2015, we piloted a peer learning group model that not only connected providers with training, technical support, and each other, but also farmers willing to sell CSAs to the child care settings, and connect with the children they work with. Reach out to learn more!
Resources on how to find local food:
Gardens: Georgia Organics' video will help you begin to think about how you can grow some of your own food in a garden, given your space and time, and this guide was developed specifically for growing food with preschoolers, using containers or small spaces.
Our colleagues at the Public Health Law Center have recently developed a flier to help child care providers and other early childhood educators understand how Farm to Child Care strategies complement existing licensing, quality ratings, and best practices standards, here.
***More resources here***
Activities, lesson plans, and curricula ideas
Consider the community assets and resources you already have at your fingertips: Master Gardeners, food hubs, nearby school districts, local public health (SHIP) professionals and early childhood family education (ECFE) programs.
More resources, guides, and local food purchasing ideas here. We cover more resources in our training, so please connect with us!
Farm to child care training
We have designed and developed a farm to child care “train-the-trainer” online course that had state-wide participation through Child Care Aware spring 2014, 2015, and 2016. This training is designed to give child care professionals and others involved in early childhood health and education the skills, tools, and confidence to implement Farm-to-School type systems, activities, and curriculum for the pre-K children they care for.
Approved for up to 5 in-service hours through MNCPD for providers. Trainers may work in partnership with local SHIP coordinators. This project has been made possible thanks to generous support from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota and the Cargill Foundation. If you're interested in participating in a train-the-trainer, please let us know at grace at rtcinfo.org.
Farm to Child Care Producer Directory
In June 2014, Renewing the Countryside conducted a survey to assess farmers’ and ranchers’ interest in selling to child care settings. As a result of the positive response, this directory includes all growers who mentioned an interest in making their information available and selling to child care settings in their area.
If you are searching for a farmer near you and do not see one here, please contact us and we may be able to connect you with farmers who do not yet appear in this directory.
If you are a farmer who would like to get involved with Farm to Child Care, please get in touch! Many farmers see the benefits of increasing access to healthy, locally grown food; educating children about where their food comes from; new revenue sources for their farms; and building more relationships within their communities.
Get this training in your community!
Contact Grace at grace [at] rtcinfo [dot] org with questions and/or to find out:
- If there are already trainers in your area, with whom your child care group or association can set up a workshop
- About potential upcoming Farm to Child Care Training of Trainers, if you’d like to train on this material.
Our partners in Farm to Early Care and Education
To move the farm to school agenda forward in Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Department of Health co-convened a statewide Farm to School Leadership Team in April 2011. The Farm to School Leadership Team works through partnerships across Minnesota to build farm to school initiatives that help kids eat healthy, support nearby farmers, foster economic vitality, and strengthen communities. Eleven member organizations have joined the group that strives to maximize the resources, ideas and impact of the state's many farm to school efforts:
Click here to learn more about the Farm to School Leadership team.