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Farm to Child Care - Mini Grant Highlight

Lakes and Prairies Child Care Aware utilized funds from the 2017 NDNC mini-grant to help fund a “Farm to Child Care” program in Cass County. In this program, seven licensed child care providers in Fargo and West Fargo received all of the materials needed to start a small, square foot garden for the children in their care, including:

  • A 3’x3’ raised garden bed
  • Soil
  • Seeds/Transplants
  • Small watering cans
  • Preschool-level books about various vegetables

Providers also received a Square Foot Gardening Guide, created by NDNC member Krystle McNeal in partnership with Brian Fuder of Square Foot Gardening for the Red River Valley. This guide explained the basics of square foot gardening and included information about harvesting, washing, and taste-testing. Participating programs received these materials in May, and then received monthly coaching visits from a Child Care Aware Healthy Living Coach in June, July, and August. In addition, Brian Fuder provided technical assistance for each program’s gardens. In total, seven child care providers and 89 children in Cass County (primarily ages 2-5 years old) were impacted through the Farm to Child Care program in 2017.

 

Some of the goals of the Farm to Child Care program were to:

  • Expose child care providers and children to vegetable gardening
  • Encourage toddlers/preschoolers to try new foods
  • Give child care providers the tools and confidence needed to continue gardening in future summers

Jasmin Child Care and Preschool, one of the child care centers that participated in Farm to Child Care in Fargo, had great success in meeting these goals.

 

Under the direction of Rhoda Elmi, Jasmin Child Care and Preschool serves children and families from a variety of cultures and ethnicities. Before Farm to Child Care, this center had no experience in gardening with children. As the summer and growing season progressed, the staff, children, and the families all took ownership of the project and learned together.

 

The staff at Jasmin used the garden as an active learning experience, teaching children how plants grow and about the various vegetables, which included radishes, spinach, cucumbers, onions, kale, broccoli, beets, carrots, and swiss chard. Children actively participated in caring for the garden by watering the plants and exploring the garden using magnifying glasses. They also enjoyed harvesting and tasting their vegetables; they even had salads at lunch time, using the veggies from their garden. Families were also engaged in the process, as children talked to their parents about the progress of their garden, and even showed them their garden during pick-up at the end of the day.

 

The resources, education, and assistance provided through the Farm to Child Care program (thanks to the NDNC mini-grant) were vital to the center’s gardening experience. The garden was even vandalized halfway through the summer, with several of the plants pulled up and thrown on the ground. However, the staff, children, and families pulled together to replant most of the garden so children could continue learning through their garden. Jasmin Child Care and Preschool expressed great gratitude for the ability to participate in Farm to Child Care, and is also interested in gardening again next year, using the resources and experience gained this past summer.

 

Mini grant Farm to Child Care

Mini grant Farm to Child Care 2

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