Nebraska Farm to Early Care & Education

Farm to Early Care & Education is an extension of the national Farm to School movement that started with school gardening and connecting farms/farming to schools. Farm to Early Care & Education includes early childhood programs encompassing preschools, Head Starts, child care centers, and day care homes serving garden or local foods, and providing hands-on nutrition educational activities such as field trips, taste-testing, cooking and gardening with children.

There are many benefits for children when they are involved in the gardening process.  They learn about gardening, agriculture, and life skills.  Children can be included with planning, planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting the garden. Fresh garden produce tastes better and data supports increased fruit and vegetable consumption in children who participate in gardening activities.  Gardening also supports social and emotional growth.

Why Farm to Early Care & Education?

It helps young children to develop healthy food patterns which can lead to better overall health as they age. Daily fruits and vegetables are essential for good nutrition,  healthy growth, and proper brain development. Research shows children who consume fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, harvested when fully ripe, eat more of them.  It also supports early obesity prevention. Children in early care rely on care givers to provide healthy food and an active environment. Farm to Early Care and Education helps children and families eat healthier, supports local farmers, and keeps more dollars in local economies.

What's New

2023 Crunch Results are in!

2023 Crunch Results are in!

We extend our gratitude to all those who took part in the 2023 Mountain Plains Crunch Off! The MPRO region collectively recorded a remarkable total of 444,379 crunches, while Early Childcare Education sites significantly contributed with 31,490 crunches in 2023. Now, let’s move on to the exciting part – the state that achieved the highest per capita crunches is none other than NEBRASKA! Nebraska schools and community members played a vital role in helping us achieve our goal, and we sincerely congratulate and thank you for maintaining this title for the 5th consecutive year! For more information on the Crunch Off, visit the webpage: https://www.education.ne.gov/ns/farm-to-school/mountain-plains-crunch/

Harvest of the Month Early Care and Education Mini-Grant Awards

Congratulations to the 34 Early Care and Education Sites awarded with the Harvest of the Month Early Care and Education Pilot 2023 Mini-Grants. Onboarding in October 2023, these sites will pilot Harvest of the Month materials adapted and created for an Early Care and Education audience. Promoting, educating on, and offering taste tests of Nebraska specialty crops along the way. Their efforts will influence future Farm to Early Care and Education efforts statewide.

Questions? Contact Sarah Meyer at sarah.m.meyer@nebraska.gov

Nebraska Farm to Early Care and Education Toolkit

Check out the Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) Toolkit below. Simply click on the icons below for resources to assist in ECE planning for your program. For grant funding availability, click on “Getting Started” or visit KidsGardening Grant Opportunities. If you are new to Farm to ECE, consider making small steps to get started. For example, include a locally sourced food item once per month, participate in the Crunch Off in October, or introduce a local food educational activity through taste testing or “Try a Bite” with local produce.

2017 Nebraska Farm Early Care and Education Survey

Survey Results

Survey Results

Survey Fact Sheet

Updated May 17, 2024 2:08pm