Our Newest Network of Learners: The Farm to ECE Learning Collaboratives

What’s a Learning Collaborative? 

A Learning Collaborative is a group of learners that meet to discuss the best practices and research on a specific topic. For us, that topic is Farm to Early Care and Education! Through our Farm to ECE Learning Collaboratives, we learn from each other about gardening, food and farming education, and local food purchasing. Farm to ECE Learning Collaboratives often include trainings, action periods, and technical assistance from the Farm to ECE trainers.  

How It Works: 

  • Providers receive the most recent Farm to ECE resources. 
  • They learn about action planning and working as a team to reach goals. 
  • Participants get information about partnering with families.  
  • ECE providers have a chance to network with other child care providers across the state. 

Access to high-quality resources and research on implementing best practices, leadership development, the use of action planning, and partnering with families make it likely that healthy changes will be sustained over time, impacting the health of today’s and tomorrow’s children.  

Vegetables that were grown at Lit’l Bit of Fun Child Development Center, a program that previously participated in a Learning Collaborative.

Perks of Being in a Learning Collaborative 

Free Training Hours 

  • All of the trainings provided through the Farm to ECE Learning Collaborative are eligible for training hours through the Alabama Department of Human Resources.  

Free Resources 

  • Participants that take part in the Learning Collaborative receive a Welcome Kit, full of goodies to get them started with Farm to ECE!  

Implementation Funds 

  • Each participating program has an opportunity to apply for implementation funds, which are funds specifically for Farm to ECE activities.  

This Year’s Participants 

Participants of the Farm to ECE Learning Collaborative learn from each other through 5 training sessions, a Farm to ECE Self-Assessment, and action planning activities. The Learning Collaborative, which is hosted over a span of 6 months, gives providers an opportunity to work with their technical assistant and with their program team to make changes and meet best practices in Farm to ECE. 

At the beginning of the Farm to ECE Learning Collaborative, programs complete a Farm to ECE Self-Assessment offered by Go NAPSACC. Go NAPSACC is a free online tool for child care providers. Go NAPSACC works with child care providers to improve the health of young children through practices, policies, and environments that instill habits supporting lifelong health and well-being. They offer modules on key topics like healthy eating, physical activity, and Farm to ECE! If you’d like to learn more, click here to watch a quick video. 

Success and Moving Forward 

Thanks to the Farm to ECE Learning Collaborative, over 70 child care programs have received funding for their Farm to ECE activities in the past two years! By the end of the five-part training series, the participants are truly excited to start their projects. 

A greenhouse located at Glenda’s Tender Plants, a family child care home and previous participant of the Farm to ECE Learning Collaborative.