Children at Ethan and Friends Family Child Care find Farm to Preschool right in their backyard. Read the full story below.

In this issue:
  • Upcoming: Childhood Obesity Conference, June 18-20 in Long Beach, CA
  • Case study: Farm to Preschool in family child care
  • Book and activity spotlight: Cucumber Soup and insects in the garden

Childhood Obesity Conference, June 18-20 in Long Beach, CA

Now in its 7th year, the biennial Childhood Obesity Conference is one of the nation's largest, most influential collaborations of professionals dedicated to combating pediatric obesity. Nearly 2,000 attendees from across the country are expected to attend in 2013. The conference will showcase the latest research, evidence-based best practices, and policy/environmental change strategies.

Several members of the National Farm to School Network's Farm to Preschool Subcommittee will be leading the workshop "Farm to Preschool: A Systems Approach Taking Root." Conference attendees will learn about model statewide Farm to Preschool efforts, and will hear how farmers and central kitchens alike are engaging in Farm to Preschool activities and local food sourcing. Best practices will be discussed in the context of how to implement successful programs and ultimately grow healthier children.

For more information and to register for the conference, visit Register by May 18th to avoid late registration fees.

Case study: Farm to Preschool in family child care

Shaunte Taylor is the proud owner and teacher of Ethan and Friends Family Child Care (FCC), located out of her home in Los Angeles, CA. She is an L.A. Universal Preschool (LAUP) provider and has been part of a Farm to Preschool pilot program for family child cares sites since September 2012, led by the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. Ms. Taylor has always been interested in nutrition education and hands-on activities for the children she teaches, but says her children were reluctant to try new fruits and vegetables.

Ms. Taylor had never gardened before launching this program, but since joining the Farm to Preschool program, she has transformed her learning environment. Her modest inner city backyard now includes raised beds, a compost bin, multiple fruit trees, and a chicken coop (complete with chickens the kids hatched themselves). The children plant seeds, transplant seedlings, amend soil while investigating worms and insects, water plants, and harvest and prepare simple recipes using their garden produce, learning about nutrition and agriculture along the way. Ms. Taylor uses vegetables from the garden in snacks and supplements meals with farmers' market produce as well as local produce provided by UEPI. Through discovery labs, in-class curricula, an extensive library, field trips and more, these children are learning by leaps and bounds and now love their veggies! A garden-harvested salad of lettuce, broccoli, broccoli flowers, and fresh squeezed orange juice was a recent hit, with kids coming back for more, and in awe of flowers that tasted like broccoli.

Parents are excited by the changes as well, and even built the chicken coop and helped get the garden beds donated. Ethan and Friends FCC has been highlighted in photo shoots and video sessions for a new training DVD, which will be available summer 2013 (DVD will be available via the Farm to Preschool website and UEPI's Farm to Preschool webpage, when available). In Ms. Taylor's words, “I am truly grateful to be one of [UEPI's] seeds and look forward to growing with Farm to Pre-K. It has been a great year for us!”

To learn about other Farm to Preschool program models, visit our website.

Cucumber Soup and an introduction to insects in the garden

From ASAP’s Growing Minds website: Cucumber Soup by Vickie Leigh Krudwig, introduces children to ten different garden creatures and follows them as they work together to move a cucumber out of their path. Brainstorm with the children different ways they work together in teams in the garden. Which of the insects in Cucumber Soup have they seen in the garden? Which do they think they might see today?

Introduce students to insects and other bugs they will find in the garden, their characteristics, and how they affect plants. Teach students to observe (rather than harm) living things in the garden and natural environment. View the full lesson plan here.

For more lessons and curricula, visit our website.

Don't forget!

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