NC Farm to Preschool Network

The North Carolina Farm to Preschool Network connects, educates, develops and shares resources between community and state partners, farmers, early childhood educators and families to spark the local foods movement in early childhood education environments. The NC F2P Network launched in 2015.


What is Farm to Preschool?

Farm to preschool includes any type of child care that incorporates local foods through one or more of the following activities: meals and snacks, taste tests, lessons, farmer visits, cooking, growing food, and/or community and parent involvement.

You can find helpful farm to preschool resources on this webpage (compiled by ASAP’s Growing Minds program) as well as through the National Farm to School Network’s website (search by Preschool/Early Care setting).

FIG: Farm to ECE Implementation Grants

The NC Farm to Preschool Network was awarded funding in the Fall of 2020 from the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN). With this funding, the Network is awarding up to 40 Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) Implementation Grants (FIG) to North Carolina childcare centers and family childcare homes who are interested in starting or enhancing their daily routines with Farm to Preschool programming. Childcare centers and homes selected for the FIG will receive a mini-grant, Farm to Preschool Toolkit, literacy box, and virtual training opportunities. They will also be matched with a mentor organization that will provide guidance to help them implement farm to preschool activities. 

NC F2P Network Resources & Publications

NC Crunch

The NC Farm to Preschool Network is a co-sponsor of the North Carolina Crunch, an statewide event that celebrates North Carolina agriculture, National Farm to School and Early Care and Education Month, apples grown by local farmers, and healthy eating. The NC Crunch takes place annually in October. Learn more and register for the NC Crunch here

Reach for the Stars with Farm to Preschool

Reach for the Stars with Farm to Preschool is a guide for ECE professionals that aligns the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale, revised edition (ECERS-R) and the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale, revised edition (ITERS-R) with the four core Farm to Preschool activities: edible gardens, farm field trips/farmer visits, local food classroom cooking/taste tests, and local food served in meals and/or snacks. Originally published in 2016, it was revised in 2020. This resource can be used to help child care centers and family child care homes integrate farm to preschool activities into their curriculum while simultaneously addressing the ECERS and ITERS to achieve a high star rating.

NC Fresh Produce Purchasing and Prep Guides – Tools for Childcare Providers

Ever wondered how many tomatoes to purchase and prepare for 25 4-year-olds at lunch? These user-friendly guides do the purchasing and prep calculations for you and take away the guesswork!

We know that caregivers want to offer more fresh vegetables and fruits when it is feasible. We also know how challenging it can be to calculate how many pounds of vegetables or fruits to purchase for children in day care settings.  It can also be difficult to know how much to serve participants of different age groups. 

The goal of these tools is to help caregivers serve more fresh vegetables and fruits, increase children’s vegetable and fruit consumption, highlight seasonal, locally grown produce, and prevent food waste. The tools were developed based on information in the USDA Food Buying Guide. They can be helpful to people preparing the meals as well as people purchasing the produce. Check out the tools below!

Equity Commitment

During these times of increasing awareness of the racial inequities that exist in our country, the Advisory Committee of the North Carolina Farm to Preschool Network is reaffirming our commitment to the advancement of racial justice. We will prioritize equity by:

  1. Reviewing the core values of our network reflected in our mission, objectives, and goals. 
  2. Seeking and sharing farm to preschool resources that are relative and inclusive.
  3. Including multiple cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives in our communications.

We would like to share this statement, from Helen Dombalis, Executive Director of National Farm to School Network: There Is No Food Justice Without Racial Justice. Our statewide network stands behind the sentiments expressed by Helen. We pledge to continue to learn, grow, and listen.

There are many resources available for educators and families to learn and teach children about racial equity, and we will continue to share those with you. Please let us know if you have any that we should pass along. Thank you for all you do to bring equity and justice to all children, families, and communities. 

Join the Network!

Follow us on Facebook! For up to date news and resources, we encourage you to follow our work via the NC F2P Network Facebook page. Here we’ll connect you to farm to preschool and ECE partners and resources from across North Carolina. 

  • Sign up for the Network’s monthly newsletter to get the latest farm to preschool news compiled by our Advisory Committee members. See Subscribe Now at the bottom of this page and select “NC Farm to Preschool Network Monthly” to sign up. Click here to view a sample newsletter.

Network Advisory Committee Members

  • Kim Shaw, A Safe Place CEC, Inc. 
  • Debbi Timson, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Growing Minds program
  • Emily Jackson, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Growing Minds program
  • Natasha Bowden, Buncombe Partnership for Children
  • Julie Sundermann, Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), Nutrition Services Branch, Division of Public Health, NCDHHS
  • Lisa Menna, Child Care Services Association
  • Diane Beth, Children & Youth Branch, Division of Public Health, NCDHHS
  • Barrette Gregory, Children’s Environmental Health Branch, Division of Public Health, NCDHHS
  • Alison Keisler, Division of Child Development and Early Education, NCDHHS 
  • Dawn Winn Burdo, Division of Child Development and Early Education, NCDHHS
  • Meghan Brown, Durham County Department of Public Health
  • Caroline Stover, Farm to Early Care and Education Initiative, Center for Environmental Farming Systems
  • Shironda Brown, Farm to Early Care and Education Initiative, Center for Environmental Farming Systems
  • Aviva Starr, GoNAPSACC, UNC Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention
  • Maria Hitt, Orange County Partnership for Young Children
  • Wesley Sleight, Sleight Family Farm
  • Lynn Policastro, Wake Smart Start
  • Gizem Templeton, World Food Policy Center at Duke University

For more information about the North Carolina Farm to Preschool Network, please contact

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