Farm to Child Care: A Provider Spotlight 3

Interview with Candace

By Cassaundra Lewis March 13th, 2017

Candace has been taking care of children since her kids were babies, I believe that she’s been doing Farm to Child Care before it had a name. Self-sustainability, good nutritional food, teaching the fundamentals of gardening and preparing foods like apples and blueberries.

“How has the Farm to Child Care training made a difference?”

“When we attended the training, we realized that someone besides us was trying to help children eat more healthy.  YAY!!  When we visited the farm that sold shares of food to members of its program, we were really excited and wanted to get egg laying hens and a goat on our little property in addition to growing different kinds of vegetables/fruits. The idea is to try a few new veggies every year, even if the deer and rabbits got to taste and harvest most, if not all of them. However, we never did get chickens or a goat.”

“How was the response from the kids?”

“The children were thrilled to plant beans and squash! They wanted to watch them grow in their little paper cups, but sometimes they over-watered them. They were more excited to take them home, and we incorporate this activity each year.  During last Spring we kept the squash, melons, and beans we planted and harvested from our garden.  The children got to take squash and apples home, but there were not enough beans to share.  So, we are planning on having more beans this coming spring.”

“How did the parents respond?”

“The parents were happy to have their children in the garden and eager to take home squash. The squash was really popular with the parents, they commented several times on how delicious the squash tasted.”

“Do you have any success stories?”

“Yes.  Those listed above and some below.”

“Are there favorite activities or did you see a change in behavior?”

“The children loved planting and nurturing their plants, as well as picking them and hauling them in the wagon to the house, though it does take several trips they are more than willing to participate.  The kids would often encourage their families to take more and eat them at home, hopefully, this will encourage their families to start their own gardens at home.

It did take a while, but now the children are more openly receptive to trying new foods or different ways of preparing them.  Lately, they prefer to eat raw green beans instead of cooked.  They also are getting into not throwing food in the garbage but in the compost pail.”

 I asked her how long she’s had to compost pail,”We’ve had a compost bucket for 15+ years, but recently brought a pail on the deck, it’s easier for the kids to put their vegetable and fruits in the compost pail, then take a daily trip to the garden compost.”

 “Have you had any challenges introducing it?”

“The main challenge is that we don't have sufficient time to spend in the garden during the daycare day because not all the kids want to be in there more than a few minutes.  Some children I would rather not have in there or we would lose our garden completely.  So I do much on the weekends or evenings on my own.    I will look for more ways to keep stressing how important fresh "stuff"  is, even if it does not involve actual gardening.   For example, my sister made some stuffed food items for the children to play with in the toy kitchen.  We have eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn on the cob (with a little husk left on), bananas (with the peel), oranges that come apart in slices, tomatoes, and a few other things.  I made a crocheted bag out of store plastic bags for the children to use as a veggie shopping bag.  We made a game of making a cardboard pizza by following various picture "recipes" using paper cut-outs of mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese, green peppers…”

 “Is there anything you would like help with?”

 “Are there websites you promote or suggest for more ideas on how we can get this idea up front for the parents?  Whether it is so they start purchasing and serving healthy foods, or activities they can do with their children even if it isn't actual gardening?”

 “Any tips you can give to new providers?”

“If time is a major factor, use crock pot recipes and raw fruits and veggies, and always let the children help as much as possible.  Make them some simple aprons by using larger size button-down-the-front shirts worn backward. Let the children help measure, cut with a plastic knife, mix, stir,  and especially serve themselves at the table.”