Farm to Early Care and Education

Cultivating healthy habits for our littlest eaters

A Vision for Farm to Early Care and Education

ECE Vision Graphic

As a leader and national convener in the farm to early care and education (farm to ECE) movement, NFSN aims to support the development of vibrant and equitable, community-based food systems and enhance the health and wellbeing of young children and their families through comprehensive farm to ECE initiatives. NFSN works to achieve this aim by (1) broadly sharing information and resources; (2) promoting state, regional, and national networking; and (3) supporting advocacy efforts.

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:

  • Racial Equity and Justice – Farm to ECE initiatives are a key leverage point to advancing racial and social equity.
  • ECE Environments – All ECE environments include:
    - Access to healthy, affordable, and culturally relevant local foods;
    - Gardening; and,
    - Food, nutrition, and agriculture education.

    Comprehensive farm to ECE initiatives are a tool to:
    - Enhance the quality of ECE settings;
    - Engage families and communities;
    - Support comprehensive child development; and
    - Meet learning and programmatic standards.
  • Food Systems – Farm to ECE initiatives support development of:
    - The next generation of responsible food consumers; and
    - Sustainable, equitable, and just local food systems.
  • ECE Professional Development – Information, resources, and supports empower all ECE providers to implement culturally relevant and reflective farm to ECE initiatives.
  • Collaboration and Community Engagement – Diverse stakeholders and sectors engage in collaboratively advancing farm to ECE programs and policy at the local, state, tribal, and national level.

Read more about the 2020 Farm to Early Care and Education Working Group’s Vision and Key Strategies to Advance Farm to Early Care and Education at the link below. National Farm to School Network’s early care and education work is supported in part by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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:

New Resource: Lessons from the D.C. Healthy Tots Act

The Washington, D.C. Healthy Tots Act (HTA) is a comprehensive bill that promotes increased participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and offers increased reimbursement for purchasing local foods (Local5) in early care and education (ECE) setting. HTA is the first, and remains one of the few, local food incentive policies that include ECE and offers great potential to learn about potential impact and best practices in policy development and implementation.

This new report from the National Farm to School Network and Research Triangle Institute International examines how HTA and the Local5 component influence ECE site local food purchasing practices and impact local food intermediaries and local producers, with a focus on HTA impacts on low-income children and children of color as well as Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) producers. Based on the successes and challenges of HTA implementation identified through key stakeholder interviews, ECE provider surveys, and participation data analysis, the authors outline key recommendations for developing more impactful and equitable local food incentive policies for ECE settings.

Explore the resource

Getting Started

For more information, contact:

Sophia Riemer
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 Partner to get involved in your state’s farm to ECE activities.