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California's Farm to Preschool Program

The California Department of Education (CDE) provides education, training, and resources to connect farms to preschools.

What is Farm to Preschool?

Farm to Preschool (F2P) is a growing movement that includes activities that strengthen relationships between children in early child care and education settings and healthy, local food.  

F2P activities include:

  • Purchasing, promoting and serving healthy, local foods in snacks or meals
  • Providing educational activities related to agriculture, food, health, or nutrition
  • Creating hands-on learning opportunities for children through gardening

Resource Links

Purchasing Local Foods

National Farm to School Network, Farm to Preschool: Getting Started with Local Foods Purchasing External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This tip sheet will assist you in determining which local foods to purchase and where to buy them. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Farm to Preschool External link opens in new window or tab.
This USDA Web page includes a variety of policies, guidance, and resources related to F2P.

USDA, Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs External link opens in new window or tab.
This guide covers procurement basics, defining local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations.

USDA, Financial Management—Child and Adult Care Food Program External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This USDA Food and Nutrition Service guidance covers allowable costs in the CACFP.

Recipes

USDA Team Nutrition, Recipes for Healthy Kids—Cookbook for Homes External link opens in new window or tab.
This cookbook features kid-approved recipes that are low in fat, sugar, and sodium, and include dark green and orange vegetables, dry beans and peas, and whole grains. (Serving size equals 6.)

USDA Team Nutrition, Recipes for Healthy Kids—Cookbook for Child Care Centers and Schools External link opens in new window or tab.
This cookbook features kid-approved recipes that are low in fat, sugar, and sodium, and includes dark green and orange vegetables, dry beans and peas, and whole grains. (Serving size equals 25, 50, or 100.)

Garden-based Education and Activities

CDE, Food for Thought External link opens in new window or tab.
This nutrition education curriculum is designed for child care programs to teach young children (three to five years old) about good nutrition and healthy food choices. The curriculum is structured around five units, namely Fall Fruits and Vegetables, Winter Fruits and Vegetables, Go-Grains, Power up with Proteins, and Spring Snacking.

CDE, Healthy and Active Preschoolers External link opens in new window or tab.
This Web page includes a variety of songs to sing with preschoolers that feature fruits and vegetables and a list of storybooks for young children that focus on healthy food.

California Department of Public Health, Harvest of the Month External link opens in new window or tab.
This award-winning initiative features ready-to-go tools and resources that can be used in diverse applications to support healthy eating and daily physical activity.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Farm to Childcare Curriculum Package External link opens in new window or tab.
This curriculum package includes activity ideas and resources for implementing F2P.

Institute for Child Nutrition (ICN), Visit to the Farmer’s Market—Autumn is for Apples External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This activity guide is intended to help child care providers plan a trip to a farmer’s market. It provides helpful ideas for what to do before, during, and after the visit.

Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College, Farm to Preschool Harvest of the Month Curriculum External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This curriculum is designed for preschool-age children and features a different fruit or vegetable each month. It teaches children where food comes from and why gardening and locally grown food is so important in our lives.

USDA, Grow It, Try It, Like It Nutrition Education Kit External link opens in new window or tab.
This garden-themed nutrition education kit features MyPlate and introduces children to three fruits— peaches, strawberries, and cantaloupe, and three vegetables—spinach, sweet potatoes, and crookneck squash.

Creating Preschool Gardens

California School Garden Network, Steps to a School Garden External link opens in new window or tab.
This Web site provides a variety of resources for planning and sustaining a school garden.

ICN, Gardening with Children External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This four-page handout is No. 4 of the Meal Time Memo series (2010) for child care and focuses on planning an outdoor garden.

ICN, How Does Your Garden Grow? External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This four-page handout is No. 4 of the Meal Time Memo series (2009 and updated in 2013) for child care and focuses on getting the community involved in an outdoor gardening project.

ICN, Plant an Indoor Garden External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This four-page handout is No. 7 in the Meal Time Memo series (2008) and focuses on planting an indoor garden.

Life Lab, Getting Started, A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This comprehensive guide addresses all aspects of creating a school garden, from planning and preparing the site to maintaining and managing the garden.

The Garden School Foundation, Southern California Preschool Garden Primer External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
This primer includes instructions for creating a raised-bed garden, a planting guide for Southern California, garden activities, and recipes.

Finding Farmers and Farmer’s Markets in California

Community Alliance for Family Farmers External link opens in new window or tab.
This Web site provides a user-friendly way to find farmers and farmer’s markets near your home or business. Just type in your zip code and the distance you are willing to travel and a list of farms and farmer’s markets with contact information will be displayed.

California Department of Food and Agriculture, The California Farmer Marketplace External link opens in new window or tab.
This Web site features California produce, grains, meats, and other products for sale and is available for individual consumers. The Marketplace offers farmers the opportunity to post products and connect directly with school food service to increase the amount of California grown and produced foods on school lunch trays.

Food Safety

University of Massachusetts; University of New Hampshire, Food Safety from Farm and Garden to Preschool External link opens in new window or tab.
This free, online training program is designed to improve the understanding of food safety risks related to fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduce the risk of foodborne illness in young children. Each Unit includes videos, interactive activities such as sharing boards, and the creation of best practices planning tools.

Promoting F2P in the Media

National Farm to School Network, Communication Tool Kit External link opens in new window or tab.
This toolkit contains an explanation of this year’s Farm to School Month activities, a sample press release, suggested social media posts and graphics, sample text for newsletters, and ideas and tips for making media pitches.

Connecting F2P in California

Community Alliance with Family Farmers; Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, California Farm to School Network External link opens in new window or tab.
The California Farm to School Network (CFSN) serves as a communications hub and convener across many organizations and regions in the state. The CFSN shares resources and brings farmers, schools, distributors, and practitioners together to support California’s leadership in the Farm to School movement.

Questions:   Laurie Pennings | FarmToPreschool@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-3813
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, October 26, 2016
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