Farm to Early Care and Education

Nourishing and educating children ages 0-5 in the garden, at the table, and in the classroom

Project partners:

   2008 – present

A student gains hands-on gardening experience at New Day School in Portland, Ore. Photo by Shawn Linehan

Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE) programs connect early childhood professionals to local food producers and community partners with the goals of serving culturally relevant, Oregon-produced foods to young children, providing hands-on experiences with food and gardening, and improving child nutrition. These programs are specifically designed for early care providers who support age-appropriate social and emotional development for young children and differ in scope and content from farm to school programming offered in K-12 environments.

Since 2008, Ecotrust has been working with partners throughout Oregon and nationally to strengthen and build support for Farm to ECE efforts with resources, training, technical assistance, advocacy, and direct connections with local producers. Today, Ecotrust provides Farm to ECE training and technical assistance across Oregon—for both farm to school professionals and early childhood professionals. We work with advisors who are experienced early childhood professionals, supervisors, and trainers to develop and deliver professional learning opportunities that are aligned with ECE priorities and professional development pathways. A key goal is to provide farm to ECE practitioners with the information, tools, and support needed to tailor their programs to be dynamic and responsive to the students and families being served, while actively contributing to a schoolwide culture where all students feel a strong sense of belonging.

Students in New Day School in Portland, Ore. Photo credit: Shawn Linehan

Berries picked by students at New Day School. Photo credit: Shawn Linehan


It’s instinctive for children to experiment with eating, to enjoy the act of foraging in the garden. There’s the joy of different textures; the freedom and adventure of it. I picked it. I washed it. I ate it… It goes through the children to the rest of the family.

— Sara Miller, Deputy Director, Northeast Oregon Economic Development District

Students in the garden at New Day School. Photo credit: Shawn Linehan

Ecotrust Project Team & Services

Want to learn more? Check out the full Ecotrust Staff & Board and all of our Tools for Building Collective Change.

Ecotrust project team
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We build and deliver mission-aligned projects in partnership.

We contribute tools, analyses, and frameworks that move projects forward.




Tools and resources for early care and education providers, specialists, and support organizations to increase local food procurement, gardens, and nutrition education in early childhood settings.



In 2021, the National Farm to School Network and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems surveyed ECE providers across the country to better understand current initiatives, motivations and challenges in applying farm to ECE activities in early care and education settings.



Here, schools can search a directory of more than 110 food businesses who grow, harvest, and process more than 45 products. This tool connects school and ECE food buyers with Oregon producers who are ready to work with them.



In line with the National Farm to School Network’s evaluation framework, Oregon’s data are categorized into four broad sectors with the potential to influence outcomes for farm to school: Community Economic Development, Education, Public Health, and Environmental Quality.

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