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Getting Started with Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE)

National Farm to School Network

February 28, 2023

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Are you interested in using more local foods in your program, but don’t know where to start? Have you heard of Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE)? Farm to ECE offers increased access to healthy foods through local procurement, gardening opportunities, and food and agriculture education activities to enhance the quality of educational experiences. Our partners at the National Farm to School Network have great resources to get you going! 

Getting Started with Farm to ECE 

This fact sheet offers steps for instituting farm to early care and education practices in early care and education settings (preschools, Head Start, center-based, programs in K-12 school districts, and family child care programs). It also discusses differences between school districts and early care settings. Other topics: benefits, promotion, resources, networks, goals and collaboration. Examples from Oregon and California.   

A Roadmap for Farm to ECE 

This resource is intended for use by stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to facilitate a shared understanding of the early care and education sector and the natural opportunities to integrate farm to school initiatives into early care and education settings.

This resource includes a basic overview of the early care and education sector, information for getting started with farm to early care and education, and a list of state early care and education agencies and contacts.  

Farm to ECE State Resource Directory 

National Farm to School Network has gathered state level farm to ECE resources developed by partners across the country. 

Local Procurement for Child Care Centers 

This fact sheet offers advice for those looking to institute farm to early care and education procurement practices in a child care center setting. It discusses procurement from distributors, farmers' markets, farmers, CSAs, and gardens. This resource offers tips for getting started and highlights a successful program in Minnesota. 

Local Purchasing for Family Child Care Providers 

This fact sheet offers advice for those looking to institute farm to early care and education purchasing practices in a family child care setting. It discusses purchasing from farmers' markets, grocery stores, food co-ops, CSAs and gardens. This resource offers tips for getting started and highlights a successful program in California. Other topics: CACFP.