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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.

A Vision for Farm to Early Care and Education

As a leader and national convener in the farm to early care and education movement, National Farm to School Network aims to broadly share information and resources, promote state, regional, and national networking, and support advocacy efforts in order to increase engagement in and expand the reach of farm to early care and education. To meet these objectives, National Farm to School Network convenes the Farm to Early Care and Education Working Group, a cohort of experienced leaders and stakeholders in the field that work collaboratively in identifying and addressing barriers and strategic opportunities to further the national farm to early care and education movement.

The National Farm to School Network Farm to Early Care and Education Working Group’s vision for the future of farm to early care and education:

  • Access to healthy, affordable, and culturally relevant local foods; gardening; and food, nutrition, and agriculture education is the expected standard in ECE environments in all communities. 
  • Farm to ECE initiatives are a key leverage point to advancing racial and social equity. Comprehensive farm to ECE initiatives are communicated as a tool to enhance the quality of ECE settings, engage families and communities, support comprehensive child development, and meet learning and programmatic standards.  
  • Farm to ECE initiatives support development of the next generation of responsible food consumers and contribute to sustainable, equitable, and just local food systems. 
  • Sufficient information, resources, and supports are available to empower all ECE providers to implement culturally relevant and reflective farm to ECE initiatives.  
  • A wide variety of stakeholders and sectors are engaged in collaboratively advancing and institutionalizing farm to ECE programs and policy at the local, state, tribal, and national level.

Read more about the Farm to Early Care and Education Working Group’s Vision and Key Strategies for Advancing Farm to Early Care and Education.

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 Senior Program Manager, Farm to ECE

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.