ASPHN's Farm to Early Care and Education Initiatives

OVERALL VISION

To increase the number of early care and education (ECE) settings with successful Farm to ECE initiatives. 

PROGRAM GOAL

To support states and communities in the development and growth of sustainable, equitable, comprehensive Farm to ECE initiatives. 

ASPHN STRATEGY

To provide guidance and leadership to participating states and communities through partner engagement, resources, trainings, networking, and custom technical assistance. 

Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) programs are an innovative evidence-based approach that give young children increased exposure and access to local produce, opportunities to learn about nutrition and agriculture, and hands-on learning through gardening. 

Learn more about these efforts and the many benefits they provide including:

  • SHAPING HEALTHY HABITS FOR LIFE. Farm to ECE activities, like taste tests, cooking lessons, and gardening, offer repeated exposures to new, healthy foods, promoting lifelong healthy food preferences and eating patterns.
  • FAMILY & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. Gardening and food-related activities are popular among families and create more opportunities for meaningful family engagement.
  • STRENGTHEN LOCAL FOOD SYSTEM. Purchasing local products creates market opportunities, promotes local and regional food systems, while food-based learning educates teachers and educators about healthy habits and their local food system.
  • EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION. Farm to ECE can enhance the learning environment with hands-on learning, help achieve early learning standards, and support appropriate cognitive, emotional, social and physical development.

Many photos displayed on this webpage were provided by external sources, including the National Farm to School Network, Fairview Head Start, the Mississippi Farm to ECE Coalition, and Jackson Child Care.

ASPHN’s 2024 Farm To ECE Convening

ASPHN’s next Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) Convening – Cultivating Connections: Bridging the Gaps to Strengthen Farm to ECE – will take place on June 11-13, 2024 in Minneapolis, MN. Attendees can expect to gain knowledge and resources to build capacity for equitable, comprehensive Farm to ECE at the state or local level; explore the significance of outdoor learning environments and Farm to ECE on children’s resilience; connect and learn with other dedicated Farm to ECE advocates across the nation; and leave with enthusiasm for exploring and implementing innovative Farm to ECE practices, resources, and tools.

REGISTRATION

Registration for this event is now open. The 2024 convening is in-person only and open to all working to build or expand Farm to ECE programming across a state, region or even zip code. For dietitians interested in CEUs, the convening provides over 10 CEU credit hours via certificate after attendance.

Register Now

LOCATION & HOTEL ROOM BLOCK

The event will be hosted at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Downtown Minneapolis and immediately follows ASPHN’s own Annual Meeting, June 9–11, 2024. We encourage you to make the most of your trip by registering for both events! Reserve for both or just convening simply by editing the dates for the room reservation.

Book Your Hotel Room

AGENDA

The event will feature excellent presentations from guest speakers, plentiful networking opportunities and visits to local ECEs. Sessions will begin at 2:00PM MT on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 and conclude 1:00PM MT on Thursday, June 13. There will be a raffle announcement at the end, so plan to stay a bit longer!

View the Agenda

SIGN UP FOR ASPHN’S TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

ASPHN will be providing the following 2023-2024 farm to ECE technical assistance:

FARMWISE: FARM TO CACFP INSTITUTE AND LEARNING COLLABORATIVE OPPORTUNITY – APPLY NOW

In partnership with the National Farm to School Network, National CACFP Sponsors Association and the USDA, ASPHN is administering the first Farm to CACFP Institute and Learning Collaborative (FARMWISE). Advancing statewide Farm to CACFP will increase local food procurement, expand young children’s access and exposure to healthy food, promote lifelong healthy habits and create a cohort of young children primed for successful Farm to School programs. The Collaborative aims to expand state Farm to CACFP by enhancing capacity, program awareness, Farm to CACFP policies, systems, and environments and collaborations.

This opportunity is available to ten (10) state coalitions to explore state approaches to advance Farm to CACFP to increase young children’s access to healthy environments and local foods. The FARMWISE information packet and the application are now open. Applications due April 30, 2024 at close of business.

APPLICATION INFORMATION PACKET APPLICATION FAQ

Additionally, ASPHN hosted informational sessions to assist teams with their applications. View a recording of a session here. For questions, please reach out to Rey Cooley at rey@asphn.org.

ASPHN’s 2019-2023 Farm to ECE Grantee Programs

ASPHN oversaw three successful Farm to ECE grantee programs, FIG, CABBAGE and Mini CoIIN. From initiating Farm to ECE programs in REACH communities, to building and expanding capacity in states across the nation, these programs had a tremendous impact in their areas. See the infographics below for details.

FIG

ASPHN’s Farm to Early Care and Education Implementation Grant (FIG) funded farm to ECE work in 10 states and the District of Columbia. FIG strengthened state-level Farm to ECE initiatives with a specific equity focus.

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CABBAGE

ASPHN’s Capacity Building Grant (CABBAGE) partnered with three Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) recipients to build community-level Farm to ECE initiatives.

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MINI COIIN

ASPHN completed a 3-year mini CoIIN or Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network with 5 states (CO, AZ, AL, MN and OH) to further their Farm to ECE activities.

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Farm To ECE Implementation Grant

ASPHN’s FIG supports public health nutrition professionals by advancing Farm to ECE initiatives at the state level. The focus is to increase the capacity to facilitate long-term sustainable, comprehensive, and equitable Farm to ECE. Learn more about the states participating below.

Farm To ECE Capacity Building Grant

With funding from CDC-DNPAO and in collaboration with National Farm to School Network (NFSN), ASPHN’s CABBAGE is offering a technical assistance (TA) and funding opportunity for Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) recipients to learn about and initiate local farm to ECE programs. The goal of this opportunity is to increase the quality of local ECE settings and increase access to healthy food and environments for young children.

Obesity Mini Collaborative Improvement & Innovation Network

The purpose of the 2019-2021 ASPHN Obesity Mini CoIIN was to support and enhance state level farm to ECE initiatives to increase access to healthy environments for young children by providing technical guidance and support for state teams.

All state teams focused on utilizing the CoIIN process to further their farm to ECE activities, including local food procurement and serving in the ECE, growing edible gardens, and embedding food and agricultural literacy into the content of the ECE program.

MINI COIIN – COLLABORATIVE IMPROVEMENT & INNOVATION NETWORKS – 2021 State Participants

ALABAMA ran its newly developed Farm to ECE Learning Collaborative with ECE educators in more economically depressed areas of Alabama. They incorporated a mini grant opportunity into their collaborative and helped ECE educators work with Master Gardeners to develop outdoor gardens. See the Alabama Farm to ECE’s Coalition Strategic Plan.

ARIZONA integrated their comprehensive online Farm to ECE trainings on procurement, nutrition and agriculture education, and gardening into an early learning collaborative. The collaborative allowed ECE educators to participate in goal setting and complete farm to ECE assessments. To connect with current Arizona Farm to ECE leaders, reach out to the respective F2S Network Chairs listed here: AZ Farm To School Network.

Our Partners

The Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN) is the administrative lead for this project and would like to thank the ASPHN Farm to ECE Advisory Committee. The advisory committee includes experts in farm to school/ECE programming, maternal and child health, program evaluation, CoIIN processes and public health programming support. These committee members have volunteered their time, creativity and passion to support the organization and implementation of ASPHN’s Farm to ECE grantee programs.

ASPHN’s Farm to ECE grantee programs are one of several programs supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States (U.S.) Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of cooperative agreement number NU38OT000279 (total of $6,320,000). The Farm to ECE Grantee programs are 100% supported by this cooperative agreement which is funded by the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO)/ National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP)/CDC/HHS. The contents of this learning session are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, DNPAO/NCCDPHP/CDC/HHS, or the U.S. government.

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