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Farm to Preschool 101

Farm to Preschool 101

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Farm to Preschool 101

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  1. Farm to Preschool 101 Stacey Sobell Williams, MPH Farm to School Coordinator, Ecotrust Portland, Oregon Western Lead Agency, National Farm to School Network

  2. Agenda • Introduction to farm to preschool • Farm to Head Start pilot in Oregon • Increasing procurement of local foods • Farm Field Trips • Gardening with young children • Curriculum…

  3. Introduction to Farm to Preschool

  4. What is Farm to Preschool? • Farm to School: • Connects local food producers and processors with the school cafeteria or kitchen • Food- and garden-based education in the classroom, lunchroom, and community • Ages 0-5 • Childcare centers, preschool, Head Start, daycare centers, in-home care

  5. Why Farm to Preschool? • Dramatic increases in obesity among preschoolers • Low consumption of fruits and vegetables • Food deserts = lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables • Fresh food = healthy food • Other benefits: • Local economy • Environment

  6. Why Farm to Preschool? Continued… • Rely on caregivers to create food/activity environments • Consume as much as 80% of daily nutrients in childcare • Early patterns are a determinant of later eating habits

  7. Why Farm to Preschool? Continued… • K-12 Farm to School movement strong • Prepare preschoolers for farm to school programs as they enter K-12 Credit: Emily Jackson, ASAP, 2008

  8. Why Head Start? • Vulnerable population • Parental involvement • Curriculum is experiential = a good fit

  9. Ecotrust Farm to School

  10. Ecotrust’s Farm to Head Start Pilot Program • Oregon Child Development Coalition • 3 pilot sites • Goals and activities: • Connections with local farmers and food processors • Incorporation of more healthy local fruits and vegetables and other foods • Promote food- and garden-based education

  11. Pilot Program Outcomes • Farm and food processor field trips: • Salad greens, strawberries • Local, preservative and HFCS-free chili • Inspired ideas: sugar-free local fruit cups • Early Sprouts curriculum ( • Sensory exploration, tasting, cooking activities • Parental involvement, hands-on participatory

  12. Farm to Childcare into the Future… • OCDC planted gardens, started a blog • Replicable model Americorps member, teachers, and kids at OCDC’s Silverton learning and nutritional garden Photo credit:

  13. Procuring More Local Foods

  14. Increasing Local Procurement: Models • Direct from farmers • Work with farmers cooperatives • Farmer’s markets • Traditional wholesalers Note: As of October 1, 2008, the NSLA allows institutions receiving funds through the CNP to apply a geographic preference when procuring unprocessed locally grown or raised agricultural products. You can access the memo here: Adapted from: USDA Food & Nutrition Service, Eat Smart—Farm Fresh!, 2005

  15. Steps to Increase Local Procurement • Start small • Review menus/regulations • Decide on the best model: • Meet with your distributor • Identify local farms, food processors, markets (“adult field trips”) • Communicate clearly and be flexible Adapted in part from: Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Farm to School Field Guide for Food Service

  16. 2008 field trip with OCDC childcare partners to Truitt Brothers processing plant in Salem, OR

  17. How do you procure?*Where do you get most of your food?*Have you procured or tried to procure local food?*What barriers have you encountered?

  18. Troubleshooting Procurement

  19. Troubleshooting Procurement • Problems: • Too expensive • Distributor inflexible or few local options • Solutions: • Set financial guidelines, develop annual goals, start small, buy seasonally • Demand more local, renegotiate contract, leverage off-contract flexibility Adapted in part from: Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Farm to School Field Guide for Food Service

  20. Troubleshooting Procurement continued… • Problems: • Kids won’t eat new foods • Little support or even opposition • Solutions: • Farm or farmer’s market field trips, tasting days, use produce from on-site garden • Build a team! Communicate challenges and benefits. Promote what you are doing! Adapted in part from: Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Farm to School Field Guide for Food Service

  21. Online directory and marketplace for regional buyers/sellers of food • Helps to streamlime procurement and promotion • Launched February 2010 • Focus on Oregon and Washington

  22. Farm Field Trips

  23. Farm Field Trips • Try to go to the farm that supplies the food to the Head Start center • Make sure you have access to bathrooms • Dress appropriately and come prepared (water, name tags, sunscreen) • Provide authentic experiences – let the children do something real • Make an inclement weather plan Credit: Emily Jackson, ASAP, 2008

  24. Credit: Emily Jackson, ASAP, 2008

  25. Establishing Head Start Gardens

  26. Benefits of Gardens • Naturally calms and reduces stress • Can help to manage ADHD • Promotes exploration and discovery • Great fit with experiential education • Motivates and increases activity Credit: Diana Vandenbussche, Child Development Associates, 2009

  27. Establishing Gardens • Challenge #1 • Staff unfamiliar with or resistant to gardening • Possible Solutions • Have a fun training • Require teachers to incorporate gardening into their lesson plans every day • See if cooperative extensions, Victory Gardens, or any other groups offer mentors • Find an easy gardening curriculum (next presentation) Credit: Diana Vandenbussche, Child Development Associates, 2009. Photo Credit: Emily Jackson, ASAP, 2008

  28. Challenge #2 Lack of money and resources Possible Solutions Have garden fundraisers See if parents are willing to donate time Grants (Stacey’s list) or request in-kind donations of supplies (e.g., Home Depot) Establishing Gardens Credit: Diana Vandenbussche, Child Development Associates, 2009

  29. Other Challenges Physical obstacles Placement of preschool buildings No dirt area or space for garden Not enough shade/too much shade No hose connections outside Lack of people power for digging up space, etc. Not enough or the right equipment Animal /insect invasions! Certain types of plants may be toxic (e.g., no nightshades – tomatoes, peppers, potatoes) Establishing Gardens Credit: Diana Vandenbussche, Child Development Associates, 2009

  30. Possible Solutions Grow plants indoors or just sprout seeds on windowsill Buy or build raised bed boxes for patio areas Let children fill small watering cans to water plants inside or out Enlist parents to water on weekends and help with physical labor starting garden Establishing Gardens Credit: Diana Vandenbussche, Child Development Associates, 2009

  31. Opportunities Include a sand or soil box nearby for non-garden play Plant with the senses in mind, use lots of color Consider planting fruit bushes/trees Cook with what you grow or at least taste it Establishing Gardens Credit: Emily Jackson, ASAP, 2008

  32. Don’t forget… • Be a good role model – eat your veggies! • Document your work and promote it to parents, the community, and the media Photo Credit: Emily Jackson, ASAP, 2008