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Farm to school is taking place in all 50 states, D.C. and U.S. Territories! Select a location from the list below to learn more or contact a Core Partner. 

National Farm to School Network

Farm to Early Care and Education

Cultivating healthy habits for our littlest eaters

NEW: 2018 National Farm to Early Care and Education Survey

In 2018, the National Farm to School Network and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems surveyed early care and education (ECE) providers across the country. Nearly 2,030 providers serving 255,257 young children in 46 states responded and shared with us the benefits and challenges of connecting young children to healthy, local foods, gardening, and food and agriculture education through farm to ECE.

The survey found that farm to ECE is reaching far and wide across the country! 49% of respondents from 46 states are already doing farm to ECE activities and another 30% plan to start in the near future. Providers said they choose farm to ECE to teach children about where food comes from and how it grows (96%), support children’s health (95%), and provide experiential learning opportunities (94%).

Respondents agree, farm to ECE activities help create high quality learning environments that promote life long health and wellness for children and families!

Click below to explore the full survey results in our report, infographic and fact sheet, and to download a toolkit to share these results with your partners and networks.


What is farm to early care and education?



Farm to early care and education (farm to ECE) offers increased access to the same three core elements of local food sourcing, school gardens and food and agriculture education to enhance the quality of the educational experience in all types of ECE settings (e.g., preschools, child care centers, family child care homes, Head Start/Early Head Start, programs in K - 12 school districts). Farm to ECE offers benefits that parallel the goals and priorities of the early care and education community including emphasis on experiential learning opportunities, parent and community engagement and life-long health and wellness for children, families and caregivers.

NFSN Farm to Early Care and Education Webinar Archive

The quarterly Farm to ECE Webinars presented by NFSN offer in-depth discussions, case studies and tools and tips for implementing farm to ECE at multiple levels. 

Watch Archived Webinars:
Bringing Local to Our Littlest Eaters: In this webinar, speakers from NFSN, USDA and MSU CRFS share tips for getting started, strategies for success and innovative models that are scaling local purchasing practices in ECE settings.

Celebrating Cultural Diversity with Farm to Early Care and Education
: This webinar focus on celebrating and connecting with diverse cultures and communities through farm to ECE initiatives.

Farm to Early Care and Education in Head Start – A Natural Alignment: Explore the National Farm to School Network’s new resource, Growing Head Start Success with Farm to Early Care and Education and hear from Head Start practitioners about best practices and successes in implementing farm to ECE in the Head Start setting.

Success in State Level Partnerships: This webinar offers insight into ECE agencies and organizations, and highlights opportunities for state level partnerships to advance farm to school in ECE environments. Speakers from USDA CACFP, Child Care Aware of America and the Iowa Head Start Collaboration Office share their work and answer questions.

Exploring the Good Food, Great Kids Project: This webinar recording shares highlights of the Good Food, Great Kids project, which developed a series of case studies on the emerging benefits of farm to ECE.

Statewide Farm to ECE Network Building: This webinar shares farm to ECE network models two states and highlights keys to success in building a statewide farm to ECE networks. 

State Agencies as Leaders and Partners in Growing Farm to ECE: This webinar explores the variety of ways that state agencies across the country are leading the way in farm to ECE.

Leading & Convening in Farm to Early Care and Education

As the hub for farm to school information, networking and advocacy, the National Farm to School Network educates early care and education stakeholders at the local, regional and national levels on the opportunities inherent in farm to school for early childhood development. We also train our farm to school partners to be leaders in applying farm to school in early care and education settings, convene national stakeholder groups to increase connectivity among diverse early childhood partners, and advocate for policies that support high quality early care and education and healthy local food systems.

National Farm to School Network’s vision for the future of farm to early care and education: 

  • Access to healthy, local foods, gardening opportunities and food-based activities to enhance the quality of the educational experience is the “new normal” in early care and education
  • All early care and education providers, regardless of geographic location, type of program or socioeconomic status, have access to sufficient information, resources and support and are empowered to successfully implement farm to early care and education initiatives
  • Farm to early care and education outcomes and benefits are clearly understood as parallel and aligned with the goals and priorities of the early care and education community
  • A wide variety of stakeholders from diverse sectors are engaged in collaborative efforts to expand access to healthy, local foods and high quality educational experiences for young children

The National Farm to School Network’s early care and education work is supported in part by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Getting Started

For more information, contact: 

Lacy Stephens
NFSN Program Manager, Farm to ECE
816-914-0597
lacy@farmtoschool.org


Join the National Farm to School Network to stay up to date on the latest news, resources and opportunities to help farm to early care and education grow in your community.

Contact your National Farm to School Network State Core Partner to get involved in your state’s farm to school activities.