Farm to ECE enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food by changing food purchasing and education practices in early care and education settings.
The three core elements of farm to ECE are local food purchasing, gardening, and food and agriculture education.
- Local Food Purchasing: Local foods are purchased, promoted, and served.
- Gardening: Children engage in hands-on learning through local gardens.
- Education: Children and staff participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health, and nutrition.
Local Food Purchasing
Purchasing local foods not only supports the community and local economy, but provides centers and homes with fresh, nutritious, and seasonally produced foods. Farm to ECE empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthing the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities.
Farm to ECE research is beginning to show positive results for children and their families. Meals in centers that focus on serving local food have been found to be more nutritious than non-local meal service, especially in fruits and vegetables.
- CACFP Reimbursement
Using local food is considered a best practice under CACFP meal patterns. Institutions should maintain receipts for items purchased at farmer's markets. If donations are received from local gardens or farms, make sure the donations are documented using the donation receipt form.
- Match-making Service
The CACFP is offering individualized match-making services for farmers/producers and CACFP child care centers and homes.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Shares
A CSA share is an investment in a local farm at the beginning of the growing season. This investment ensures that our local farmers have funding to begin the season with full fields. As a shareholder, you will receive up to 13 weeks of produce. Each week's shares will consist of the produce that is ready for harvest during that season. Children in care will have the opportunity to try seasonal local produce.
Find a CSA in Colorado
- CSA guide.
- Colorado Department of Agriculture.
- Colorado Proud.
- Recipe ideas with Colorado produce.
- Choosing the right local food path.
- Local food purchasing guide from the NC State Extension Office.
- Local procurement guide.
- 'Farm to School Works.'
- Local Foods Q&A.
- Farm to Preschool: Local Food and Learning in Early Care and Education Settings.
- CACFP Financial Management Memo.
- CACFP donation receipt form.
The benefits of green spaces in early childhood care centers are endless. Gardens create positive learning environments, increase children's willingness to try new fruits and vegetables, and serves as a valuable tool for engaging students in a number of academic subjects. Gardens empower everyone, even little ones, to contribute to the process of growing food from seed to harvest.
- CACFP Reimbursement
Did you know that CACFP funds can be used to purchase items to grow a garden? Contact your Nutrition Consultant or see USDA CACFP Procedure Memo 11-2015 for more information.
CHOP was a three-year program for child care providers, funded by a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Team Nutrition Training grant. CHOP’s goal was to get kids in care eating more seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables and/or on-site garden produce. The CHOP grant ended in September 2018, but the resources are still informative, fun, and full of great ideas.
Check out this promotional video for our collaboration with Livewell Colorado: Farm to Preschool is Possible.
CHOP on Colorado Public Radio: To Keep Kids from Dodging Veggies Colorado Wants to Hook 'em Young.
10/16/2019 - Let's talk about Squash and Snow!
09/17/2019 - CHOP September Newsletter 2019
08/16/2019 - CHOP August Newsletter
07/18/2019 - CHOP & LiveWell Colorado Present: Quickbite Videos
07/10/2019 - July CHOP Newsletter, Quick Bite Video Release!
06/05/2019 - June CHOP Newsletter 2019
05/08/2019 - CHOP May Newsletter
04/25/2019 - CHOP April Newsletter
03/20/2019 - CHOP Webinar Reminder!03/13/2019 - CHOP's March Newsletter
08/03/2018 - Let's learn about Peaches and Tomatoes!
07/06/2018 - CHOP July Family Newsletter
05/11/2018 - May Family Newsletter from CHOP
04/23/2018 - Welcome to the CHOP Parent Newsletter, April 2018
Not only is farm to ECE a wonderful way for children to learn about the environment and how food grows, but it also teaches self-reliance, the importance of community, and hands-on STEM concepts. Learning about growth and renewal builds optimism and positivity.
Farm to ECE has shown a positive impact in the following areas:
- Child engagement and development.
- Academic achievement.
- Family, educator, and staff engagement.
- Learn to cook with CACFP
- Video: Immersion Blender Fresh Tomato Sauce Tutorial.
- Video: Summer Squash Pickles.
- Video: Caring for Your Knives.
- Video: Beet Chips Tutorial.
- Video: Spinach Pici Pasta Tutorial
Video: How to Cut Melons.
Video: Summer Squash Noodles.
Video: Carrot Knife Skills.
Video: Roasted Beets Cooking Tutorial.
- Quick Bites
- The Cost of Disposables | Spanish.
- How to Properly Use Disposable Gloves | Spanish.
- How to Properly Wash Your Hands Poster | Spanish.
- How to properly Temp Food | Spanish.
- Temperature Mini-Poster | Spanish.
- Good Receiving Practices | Spanish.
- Proper Refrigeration Storage | Spanish.
- Internal Cooking Temperatures | Spanish.
- Contaminants | Spanish.
- Mise en Place | Spanish.
- Recipe Conversion Tips | Spanish.
- Recipe Reading Handout | Spanish.
- Blank Whiteboard | Spanish.
- Time Management | Spanish.