In Celebration of National Farm to School Month

In Celebration of National Farm to School Month

One Small Step to Healthier Kids: Farm to Early Care and Education 

Jackson Child Care is an active “Farm to School” early learning preschool in a Family Day Care Setting! We are a proud participant in the Farm to School initiative.  What is Farm to School? Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education sites. To learn more about the Farm to School initiative click on the link.

At JCC preschool children are learning, growing and gaining access to healthy, local foods as well as educational opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. Farm to school empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities.

October is National Farm to School Month, it is a time set aside to celebrate connections happening all over the country between children, communities, and local food!  Farm to school is a critical strategy for early childhood development for two important reasons: health and high-quality learning. At JCC children are exposed to healthy, local foods through meals and snacks, taste tests, lessons, cooking activities, gardening, field trips, farmer visits and more in support of healthy development and establishment of a nutritional early learning foundation.

JCC involvement, hands-on participation, and the children’s learning about “Farm to School” began early this spring with a “Plant life Cycle Theme”. We did a self-guided field trip to our local Home Depot to purchase over 100 fruit and vegetable seed packages and eight green houses!

The green houses provided learned opportunities about plant life cycles and generated tangible results associated with abstract scientific concepts. Much can also be said about the children’s cognitive, language, math, and social development.

When it came time to transplant the seeding, it was the skills and volunteer service of Brian and Jolanda Burton who prepared a raised garden made from pallets. We will be forever grateful for their hard work and commitment to our success.

During the spring and into the summer months there were visits to area Farmers Markets. At the Farmer’s Market the children learned even more about farming through conversations with farmers and others.

A field trip to Giant Grocery, our local grocer allowed the children to have a better understanding of how the food is transported from the farm to the grocery store. Dave Webster, the produce manager did a phenomenal job in detailing the connection between fresh healthy food produced on the farm and gardens, to include transportation  (along with information about other related subject areas) from the farm to the grocery store display (communities). As educators, we were in awe of how he was able to creatively tie the subject learning areas together!

The children’s learning continued with an apple picking field trip adventure to Stribling Apple Orchard.  Later this month we will celebrate with a field trip visit to the Burke Pumpkin Patch . These two field trips are reflective of our learning, growing and fun celebrating with families.  For the past two weeks, we have had a parent surprise us with farm fresh fruit and vegetables from Seasonal Roots ….most delicious! If interested, there is currently a half off membership code “LIVELOCAL107”.

Engagement in this initiative provides opportunities to support successful healthy eating habits in our high quality learning rich setting.  Additionally, we have taken the necessary steps to advance farm to early care and education in our community by becoming a member of the National Farm to School Network and connecting with community leaders. This participation is just one of many of our invaluable school readiness engagements. 

Farm to Early Care and Education Resources

Thanks to National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) for the recent hosting of its Special Webinar Exclusively for NAFCC Members on “One Small Step to Healthier Kids: Farm to Early Care and Education for Family Child Care”. Participation in this Webinar provided the resources and a forum to create this informational blog. Be on the look out for my blog covering the importance of membership in a childcare association. Professional Associations support its members’ professional development and offer opportunities for community engagements! At JCC preschool we are learning, growing, playing, and having fun together!