Farm to Early Care and Education

Local food, gardening, hands-on learning, and family engagement

Farm to early care and education (farm to ECE) 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).

Rooted is proudly developing free Wisconsin farm to ECE resources for ECE providers, support organizations, food service staff, and food producers in the state. This work has been made possible thanks to funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan.

Here, you will find resources from Rooted and our farm to ECE partners that aim to facilitate and empower all ECE sites to increase access to local foods, improve the nutrition environment, and enhance educational opportunities for 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.

Featured Publications

Celebrating Seasonality

Celebrating Seasonality: Wisconsin-Grown Recipes for the Early Childhood Setting is a collection of twelve child-friendly recipes for the ECE setting that feature seasonal fruits and vegetables. These fun breakfast, lunch, and snack recipes promote the use of Wisconsin-grown produce in all ECE settings. Celebrating Seasonality also includes information to help you find more local foods, a seasonality chart of Wisconsin crops, interviews with Wisconsin farmers, and stories from Wisconsin ECE sites serving local foods.

Roots in the Ground

This comprehensive Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) curriculum is designed to help early childhood educators feel inspired and confident in gardening and cooking activities with young children. The trainings focus on site evaluation and planning to start a small garden, as well as considerations for ECE-age appropriate gardening and cooking activities, including safety considerations, cultural connections, and garden sustainability.

Featured Books, Trainings, and Publications

Cultivating Childhood Wellness through Gardening - Updated for ECE

This online video training covers planning and establishing a youth garden, tips on involving children in the garden, and lesson plans and activities using garden produce. It was updated in 2019 to include recommendations for gardening with children under age 5. Registry credit is available (1.5 credits).

Offered by Wisconsin Early Childhood Association

Seeds in a child's hand

Early Care & Education Training Videos

Incorporating Local Foods at Your ECE Site: Learn different ways and techniques in how to add and incorporate local foods into any early care and education site. 

Hands-On Farm to ECE Activities: Learn how to incorporate hands-on farm to ECE activities in your early care and education program.

Gardening with Young Children at Your ECE Site: Learn about gardens in your early care and education program.

Family Engagement in your Farm to ECE Program: Learn about family engagement involving farm to ECE activities in your early care and education program.

Got Dirt?

New to gardening? Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services’ Nutrition and Physical Activity program developed this resource for beginning gardeners to assist with starting and maintaining school, community, and child care gardens. Also available in Spanish.

Got Veggies? ECE Edition

This ECE edition of the original “Got Veggies?” resource provides developmentally appropriate lessons and activities for children ages five and under.

Healthy Bites: A Wisconsin Guide for Improving Childhood Nutrition, 2nd Edition

This guide based on current scientific evidence provides a self-assessment for ECE programs to assess their own environment, program policies, and practices with regard to nutrition and farm to ECE.

Teaching in Nature's Classroom: Core Principles of Garden-Based Education

This publication by Nathan Larson conveys best practices in garden-based education along with evidence-based strategies, beautiful, inspiring artwork, and quotes from real children in the garden. It is sure to convince anyone of the benefits of gardening with children. Also available in Spanish.

ECE Partner Websites

Several of our partners have free resources available on their websites

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

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

Wisconsin School Garden Network

The Wisconsin School Garden Network supports new and existing gardens and youth education programs, and host a website with extensive resources for gardening with children of all ages.

Wisconsin Farm to ECE Survey

The first Wisconsin farm to ECE provider and support organization surveys aimed to establish baseline data for farm to ECE participation including existing farm to ECE activities already taking place and what trainings and resources could help sites grow farm to ECE. The survey also assessed support organization staff knowledge and understanding of farm to ECE.

Have questions, comments or resource ideas? Email us.

Skip to content