The results are in!

We recently asked directors, teachers, food service coordinators, family childcare providers, parents, volunteers, and partner organizations of early care and education around the country to tell us about their experiences with Farm to Preschool. We were thrilled to hear back from 494 of you about your Farm to Preschool activities! We are looking forward to using this information to inform our work going forward, and we’re also excited to share what we’ve learned with you.

From those of you who responded to the survey, we learned that…

  • You've been doing this for a while: almost half of the 494 respondents have been doing Farm to Preschool activities for three years or longer
  • Your most common activities include: educating children about locally grown food, how it grows and where it comes from; serving meals or snacks with at least some locally grown food; and planting or working with children in edible gardens
  • You're motivated: the top three reasons respondents said that they engage in Farm to Preschool activities are to teach children about where food comes from and how it is grown, to provide children with experiential learning, and to improve children’s health
  • You're developing your own resources: most respondents said that they do not use a set curriculum or resources, or if they do, it is something they developed themselves
  • You engage families: over half of respondents are also providing families with information about locally grown food
  • You could still use support: the most common concern around local purchasing was cost. Additional funding is most needed for local food purchases, school gardens, curriculum, and staff trainings. Other resources that you said would be useful include supplies to get started, a list of local farmers to connect with, and examples of policies and procedures (food safety protocol, best practices for gardens, etc.)
  • You're serving a lot of children: based on survey replies, we know that at least 163,450 young children are currently benefitting from Farm to Preschool activities!

And the winner is…

Congratulations to the Denali Preschool and Learning Center (DPLC) Garden Camp in Healy, Alaska, who was randomly selected as the winner of the Farm to Preschool survey $500 prize! The gardening program at DPLC began in 2010, with a small grant for start-up materials and the volunteer work of local master gardeners. They began with two raised beds for growing vegetables, before expanding with additional beds to grow edible flowers and strawberries. The local library and members of the community provide tremendous support through plant donations each spring. Preschool students start seeds indoors in the spring, while kids in daycare and summer classes weed and care for the garden in summer, and the preschoolers are able to enjoy what’s left to be harvested in the fall. At the end of the short growing season, the kids harvest the veggies during a harvest party, and divide up "shares" to take home with their families, celebrating the fruits (and flowers, stems and leaves) of their labor.

The kids learn about garden pests first hand, both small (Rusty Tussock moth outbreak!) and large. Moose are one of the more exciting garden pests in Alaska and, without a garden fence, the center recently lost their garden bed of chard, broccoli and cabbage to moose. With the Farm to Preschool survey prize money, the center plans to look into fencing options so that next year, the moose and hares will be grazing on nearby willows rather than their chard!

Do you have stories to share?

We are always interested to hear more about your Farm to Preschool efforts. E-mail info@farmtopreschool.org with your experiences.

Don't forget!

Visit our website for tons of Farm to Preschool resources and information. You can also submit your own events, news, or materials: farmtopreschool.org

 

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