Research & Practice

Increasing Gardening in Early Care and Education in Washington State

The state-wide Washington State Department of Health Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) Network is composed of a variety of partners committed to expanding access to local, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables. The Farm to ECE Network provides support and builds capacity among early learning providers to use federal funding to grow and purchase local produce. Not only do school gardens increase access to local produce for children and their families, they also instill gardening experiences that young children can carry throughout their lives.

This is an upstream effort aimed at tackling root causes of diet-related chronic disease, such as access to fruits and vegetables and income inequality, an issue that I care deeply about. The first deliverable created is a “Gardening Rules & Regulations Resource.” This is a three-page, accessible document that elucidates state and federal rules related to gardening in early learning programs. It will be posted on the Farm to ECE website, and used by other state agencies and providers to help programs navigate the rules and regulations for gardening in ECE. The second deliverable created is a two-hour garden-based training for early learning providers. This training will be posted on the Washington State Department of Health’s website and will earn providers professional development credits. These deliverables support the efforts of the Farm to ECE Network to build gardening capacity in early learning centers across Washington State and increase equitable access to nutrient-dense foods.

Materials Available

Project Type(s): MPH Practicum, PH Concentration Poster

Author(s): Chelsea Whealdon

Program(s): Master of Public Health, RDN Training

Year: 2022