Farm to Early Care and Education

Farm to Early Care and Education

Farm to early care and education (farm to ECE) is a natural extension of farm to school that offers increased access to healthy, local foods, gardening opportunities, and food-based activities to enhance 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 Resources for Early Care and Education Sites 

Through funding through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, an initial set of Wisconsin Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) resources have been developed for ECE providers, ECE support organizations, food service staff, and food producers in Wisconsin.  

These resources aim to facilitate and empower all early care and education sites to increase access to local foods, improve the nutrition environment, and enhance learning for the children through hands-on learning and play in food and nutrition, inclusion of local foods in meals and snacks, planting and tending to gardens, and family engagement opportunities. 

Digging into Wisconsin Farm to ECE
Digging into Wisconsin Farm to Early Care & Education

Learn how Farm to Early Care and Education can help you enhance health and the educational experience of your children through local food purchasing, hands-on learning, gardening, and family engagement!

Now available in Spanish: Todo Sobre Wisconsin Farm to Early Care and Education

Farm to ECE Interest Areas for Young Children

This brief features Farm to ECE activities organized by interest area so you can mix and match to meet your site needs and children's interests. ​​Includes farm to ECE story time, dramatic play, and outdoor investigation ideas!

Now available in Spanish: Áreas de interés para niños de Farm to ECE

How to Buy, Prepare, and Serve Local Foods

Learn how to incorporate local foods into meals, snacks, & taste-tests with this getting started guide. 

Now available in Spanish: Como comprar, preparar, y servir los productos locales

Farm to Early Care & Education for GrowersFarm to Early Care & Education for Growers

Tips and resources for growers and food producers interested in partnering with early care and education sites as community partners and alternative marketing opportunities.

Farm to ECE for Growers now available in Hmong! Now available in Spanish too: Farm to ECE para cultivadores


Let's Go to the Farmers' Market!Let's Go to the Farmers' Market!

Interested in visiting a farmers' market with the children in your care, but unsure when to go, what to buy, and how to make it work with your site's food budget?  Never fear, check out this list of FAQs for early care and education sites interested in visiting farmers' markets!


Farmers' Market Activity Ideas for Young ChildrenFarmers' Market Activity Ideas for Young Children 

Enhance learning opportunities before, during, and after a farmers' market visit with the ideas inside this 1/2 pager!

Interested in printing it out?  Click here, print, cut in half, and share with a colleague!


Engage Families with Farm to ECE

Family engagement is central to early care and education quality. Farm to ECE can be used as a tool to promote successful family partnerships! Check out this resource for ideas on how to cultivate a healthy site for all your families, connect caregivers to learning, and free printables!


Early Childhood Gardens

Gardens are a favorite farm to ECE activity as they offer a setting for hands-on nutrition education, access to fresh produce, and opportunities for family engagement.  Whether on a window sill in the classroom or in a raised bed outside, gardens help shape the nutrition environment of early care and education sites around Wisconsin.  

Look below for early learning garden resources to help you plan, implement, and sustain a garden.


Got Dirt

In an effort to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services' Nutrition and Physical Activity program developed this resource to assist with the implementation of school, community, and child care gardens.


Got Veggies

Got Veggies is a garden-based nutrition education curriculum created with the goal of getting children to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.  Got Veggies? features seven full lesson plans as well as fun recipes and helpful tips for cooking and eating in the garden. 



Cultivating Childhood Wellness through Gardening

This online video training was developed by the Wisconsin Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Program and Community GroundWorks in partnership with UW-Extension Life Lab, Wisconsin Obesity Prevention Network, UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, and UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems.


Healthy Bites: A Wisconsin Guide for Improving Childhood Nutrition

This guide is based on current scientific evidence and provides a self-assessment to allow child care programs to freely assess their own environment, program policies, and practices as they relate to nutrition.  



Growing Healthy Children

This garden-based toolkit from Community GroundWorks and the Oneida County Health Department includes age-appropriate activities for ECE sites.


Wisconsin School Garden Network

Youth garden training, support, and resources for ECE providers.


Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Information and resources for all components of farm to ECE, both nationally and Wisconsin-specific.