Farm to Early Childhood Resources

What is Farm to Early Childhood?

We’re sharing our “hub” of Farm to Early Childhood resources created by Vermont FEED, our Farm to School partnership project with NOFA-VT. Farm to Early Childhood (FTEC) offers benefits that parallel the priorities of the early care and education community including emphasis on experiential learning opportunities, family and community engagement, and life-long health and wellness for children, families, and caregivers.

Comprehensive FTEC initiatives enhance the quality of early childhood education programs by meeting multiple learning and programmatic standards. FTEC engages families and communities, supports comprehensive child development, advances racial and social equity, and helps develop the next generation of responsible food consumers contributing to sustainable, equitable and just local food systems.

Farm to Early Childhood encompasses a wide range of programs and activities. The goals are to:

  • encourage young children to enjoy eating fresh healthy foods while their preferences are still forming
  • encourage children, families, and staff to develop healthy life choices by offering hands on educational experiences with nutritious food, cooking, gardening, and exposure to local farms and foods systems
  • foster community resiliency and improve access to healthy food at home and in the community by building relationships with local farms and food system partners
  • support early childhood quality programming initiatives through alignment with licensing regulations, learning standards, and QRIS systems like STARS
  • advance social and racial equity.

Farm to Early Childhood in Vermont applies the “3C” approach seeking to integrate classroom, cafeteria/kitchen, and community activities in support of the goals.


In the Classroom

Early childhood offers a unique opportunity in the lifespan to engage young children and their families in learning about health, nutrition, food and food systems all while children are developing their food preferences and health habits for a lifetime. Early childhood classrooms are by nature experiential learning environments where activities like gardening, exploring recycling or composting, learning vocabulary to describe various tastes and textures, cooking, and visiting local farmers and food system partners or inviting them into the classroom all create meaning and connections within children’s worlds. Farm to Early Childhood offers a lens for integrating curricula across learning domains while meeting high quality standards.

Curriculum Resources:


In the Cafeteria & Kitchen

With child obesity rates rising in Vermont since 2014, early childhood settings present a prime opportunity to help young children and families think about nutrition and healthy food options, increase their access to healthy foods, and develop healthier food preferences at young ages. Whether your early childhood setting offers snacks and meals on site or supports families in making and supplying daily foods for children in your care, thinking about food, kitchens, and child and family centered activities that provide exposure to new healthy foods can help form healthy habits for a lifetime. Taste tests, cooking projects, celebrations (birthday, holiday etc.), and family events where food is available all present learning opportunities. Furthermore, establishing a program health and wellness policy which includes guidance on nutrition, physical activity, and self-care sets the stage and expectations for healthy staff, children, and families.  

Kitchen & Food Related Resources:


In the Community

Farm to Early Childhood builds community connections and strengthens the local economy. Children, families, and staff learn about their connections to food, farms, and other food system partners through relationship building and activities such as harvest dinners, field trips, and hosting a guest visitor at the childcare location. Farmers can expand their markets to early childhood settings offering meals and snacks as well as through family purchasing at farmer’s markets or CSA activity. All participants benefit and help build protective factors for children and families.

 Community Resources:

Vermont Specific FTEC Resources:

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