On October 18th, NHSA and National Farm to School Network are announcing “Celebrate Farm to Head Start Day.” During October, Many Head Start programs are engaging in “Farm to Head Start” activities, including purchasing local food for meals and snacks, bringing students to farms and farmers into the classroom, teaching students how to cook or prepare locally grown food, and even tending to your own gardens.
Take a look at the featured "Farm to Head Start" activities from around the country and get inspired to incorporate the farm in your classroom!
In North Carolina...
Mountain Projects Head Start carries out weekly activities with Farm to school such as taste tests and working in the garden.
Their model integrates a university student into educational setting who has been trained to implement Farm to Preschool activities. This "upstream" approach prepares the students to integrate Farm to Preschool practices into their professions.
Get Their Lesson: Cucumber Stacks (PDF)
Harvest for Healthy Kids partners with Mt. Hood Community College Head Start and the School of Community Health at Portland State University with funding from Kaiser Permanente Northwest.
The program introduces Head Start children to a wide variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables through their meals and snacks and classroom activities. Foods featured in Harvest for Healthy Kids include beets, cabbage, winter squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, berries, carrots, and other local produce in the Portland metro area. Additionally, monthly family engagement activities support parents in promoting healthy eating habits at home.
Preliminary findings from an evaluation in 2011 show that children who participated in Harvest for Healthy Kids are more likely to "like" certain vegetables than their peers who did not participate in the program.
Want to know more? Contact Dawn Barberis, Associate Director of Operations, Mt. Hood Community College Head Start and Early Head Start at 503-491-6121 or Dawn.Barberis@mhcc.edu.
The first farm-based early childhood education center in the United States opened for the 2012-2013 school year. The center, located at Aullwood’s Discovery Farm Center, is operated by Miami Valley Child Development Centers, Inc.
The young learners, ages 3-5, discover how their working farm environment can be used to produce nutritious food for the table. The children stroll to the chicken house to harvest fresh eggs. They return to the classroom to learn how to prepare healthy dishes with eggs, locally grown produce. At the end of the lesson, the children sample a number of recipes made with farm fresh ingredients.
According to Mary Burns, president of MVCDC, “Many of our students only know urban living. This natural environment with animals and gardens—all on a sprawling and sustainable working farm— incorporates great experiential learning for our young learners during their formative years.”
The Nature/Farm Play Early Childhood Learning Center at Aullwood Discovery Farm is possible through a collaborative partnership. Parters include Miami Valley Child Development Centers, Inc., Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm, and National Audubon Society.
Vanessa Whiting is a nutritionist for the Head Start program at MidCoast Maine Community Action, in Bath, ME. Vanessa and her colleagues in the Head Start program have built a strong farm to Head Start project based on a partnership with the Morris Farm Trust, which promotes the values of sustainable agriculture and stewardship of the earth through education, demonstration and community involvement. Morris Farms provides garden spots for the Head Start Program, educational opportunities for children and families, and food for the Head Start kitchens.
In addition, Vanessa collaborates with Erin Dow, the expert Chef at Guiding Stars, Hannaford Supermarket’s nutritional education and guidance program. Erin brings exciting recipes and shopping advice to Head Start families and children and participates in Morris Farm/Head Start events.