Learning in the garden is a key component of farm to ECE and a wonderful way to get children outside. Young children learn better in out-of-classroom settings that involve hands-on activities using all of the senses. Gardens can also increase parent involvement and children’s enthusiasm for child care. Gardening can enhance the development of physical and social skills and encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables. Planting a garden in your child care setting is a great way to provide hands-on learning experiences, but not the only way. Simple ways to introduce gardening include placing containers on a window sill, sprouting seeds in a plastic bag, or potting plants outside.
- Starting a Garden Step by Step Use this worksheet to think through and develop a comprehensive garden plan (Available in Spanish)
- Gardens in Early Care and Education: Navigating Rules & Regulations This fact sheet provides guidance on navigating Washington State regulations and CACFP reimbursement when gardening in early learning programs.
- Funding Resources: Starting & Growing Gardens in Early Learning This guide lists grants, local technical assistance and funding opportunities and donation options to begin and expand gardens in early learning programs.
- Starting and Maintaining a School Garden National Farm to School Garden’s fact sheet on how to start a school garden
- Dig In! Gardening Guide This guide will help you in every step from knowing what type of garden you want to plant to every phase of cultivating and harvesting your produce
- Childcare Center Fruit & Vegetable Gardening Series A collection of guides on garden infrastructure, growing and preparing fruits and vegetables, and composting techniques
- Natural Learning Initiatives’ Gardening Series Contains a gardening activity guide and a series of guides on topics such as growing and cooking fruits and vegetables, creating childcare production gardens, and composting
- Spanish gardening resources Lifelab’s Spanish resource list, including guides to starting your garden, garden curriculums, nutrition education curriculum, and songs and music
- Steps to Growing a Successful School Garden A guide for steps and things to be aware of when starting a school garden
- Collective School Garden Network Resources for every step of creating and sustaining a school garden
- School Garden Startup Guide Gives a brief overview of planning and garden team building in English and Spanish
- Gardening Resources from Team Nutrition
- School Garden Support Organization Network Peer to peer learning opportunities through webinars, gatherings, and an online forum
- Fearless Beginning Gardening at Your Program Community Groundwork’s quick guide addressing common concerns to starting a gardening program in early learning
- Multicultural Children’s Literature in the Garden Booklist
- Easy indoor gardening activities: sprout seeds in a plastic bag
- Colorado Training on Farm to ECE for Master Gardeners A webinar about farm to ECE for Master Gardeners hosted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado’s Division of Environmental Health & Sustainability.
Note: If you’re in Washington state, make sure to review the Washington Administrative Code when setting up an outdoor garden.
Garden Focused Curriculums and Activities
- Grow It, Try It, Like It! A garden-themed education kit with hands-on, planting, and nutrition education activities
- This Week in the Garden Lesson plans by Growing Minds with weekly activities, teacher resources, and parent newsletters
- From Seed to Plate A farm to preschool garden curriculum with weekly activities and a suggested planting schedule
- Edible Schoolyard Resource library contains garden-based lesson plans for every age group and curricular area
- Big Green Educator resources include garden activities and curricula from Big Green and their partners
- Kids Gardening Free garden-based lessons plans and activities for parents and educators
- Garden Activities by Better Kid Care
- Plant Care Cards by Oxbow Farms (Spanish and English)
- Outdoor Adventures with Vroom a garden-focused tips collection full of easy, brain-building activities that can be integrated into the day-to-day. Also available in Spanish
- Farm to ECE Curricula Guide An easy reference guide on the curriculums linked above. Available in Spanish.
- Find classroom focused curriculums and activities on the Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture Education page