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Program Post: Farm to PREschool!

Farm to Preschool

Each Thursday, ASAP’s programs take you behind the scenes of their work. This week, our Growing Minds team talks about bringing Farm to School to the youngest of us!

From ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School Program

You know about our Farm to School work: school gardens, classroom cooking (with local food, of course!), farm field trips, and local food in the school cafeteria. But only working with K-12 students would mean we’d miss a big segment of our population, the pre-K crowd, and talk about affecting change. If we want the third graders of tomorrow to eat their veggies, we’ve got to start while they’re in preschool. Hence, Farm to Preschool! The programming is made up of the same components as Farm to School, with a little tweaking. Preschool is the perfect environment for this programming: Teachers depend upon experiential education techniques (is there any other way to teach a preschooler?), there’s often more parental involvement, and there’s the chance to set attitudes and behaviors at an early age. All great reasons to provide Farm to Preschool education to the youngest of us.

Back in 2007, ASAP was approached by Head Start (part of Western Carolina Community in Action, WCCA) in Henderson County. They wanted to incorporate locally grown foods into their meals. We were delighted, of course! This grew into a partnership, and by project end, ASAP and WCCA had started a garden, taken a couple of farm field trips, hosted a family night about the project, and provided training for Head Start teachers so that they could use a garden, local food cooking, and farm field trips as instructional tools. The partnership was recently rekindled, and we’re back at work together, determined to bring more local food- and farm-based experiences to the Head Start children of Henderson County.

ASAP has also been working with Mountain Projects, Inc. (the organization that operates the Head Start in Haywood and Jackson counties) for the last few years to bring Farm to Preschool to one site in Jackson County. The teachers at Fairview Head Start have been delighted to have a Western Carolina University student coming weekly to provide a taste test or other local food-based activity to their children. We’ve helped them establish a garden, and we’re working to get some locally grown food into their food service. Read more about our work with WCU in Jackson County.

Now when ASAP makes mini-grants, seeds, lesson plans, training, and other resources available, we’re outreaching to preschools in the area to let them know we support them, too. We love hearing stories and seeing pictures; if you know a preschool that’s providing local food experiences, please tell us!

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