N.C. Cooperative Extension
The Farm to ECE Work Group, as part of N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Local Food Program Team, focuses on enhancing Farm to ECE efforts within Cooperative Extension statewide. ECE encompasses learning environments for children ages 0 – 5; these tiny eaters are just beginning to taste new foods and to understand where their food comes from! This early intervention is key for children to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime, and to start their journey towards becoming local food consumers as adults.
This work group’s primary aim is to support Extension Agent training across the state with two goals:
- ECE Local Food Promotion: To introduce and promote local food and farming to child care centers and their communities – including teachers, cooking staff, parents, families and children. Extension agents can promote local food in ECE environments through nutrition training for families, knife skills and seasonal food training for cooking staff, garden education and ideas for hands-on work with children for preschool teachers, and providing connections to nearby farms for field trips and educational experiences. Our training will demonstrate to agents how to train early childhood staff in these Farm to ECE skills.
- ECE Local Food Purchasing: To connect local farms with child care centers. Child care centers offer local farmers a new market and an opportunity to be engaged in their community in a very special way. Extension agents are well-suited to help child care center directors link up with farmers to procure local food for their meals and snacks. These trainings will connect agents to centers and Partnership for Children offices as an avenue to promote local food sources to these new markets.
Contact us to request or participate in a training in your area.
How Can Agents Get Involved?
Extension agents are in an ideal position to work with early educators and families to help children begin these healthy habits that will last them into adulthood. Agents across all program areas can help the ECE community in their area to purchase and promote local food.
Resources for Extension Agents
- NC Cooperative Extension Farm to Childcare webpage
- Junior Master Gardeners curriculum
- Wake County Case Study (PDF)
- Farm to Early Care and Education Local Food Purchasing Guide