Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Farm to Preschool - Good for Everyone!

Farm to Preschool.  Ever heard of it?  Probably not.  But it's pretty neat!  It's a grassroots program that is nationwide that focuses on teaching our preschoolers about local food, gardens, and where our food comes from.  We think it's pretty important, so we try to participate in the Farm to Preschool movement.  Some things we think are important and we do here at the Patch:
  • Our children tend a garden which produces herbs, flowers, and vegetables.  Through observing and working in the garden, they learn about food, where food comes from, what herbs smell like and are used for, and to enjoy beauty in the world.
  • The children help to plant the plants and seeds, weed the garden, water the garden, and then help with the harvest.  They always grow cucumbers and tomatoes, which are given to the kitchen and are sent back to the kids on their lunch plates!  Cucumbers and tomatoes with Ranch dressing is a favorite!
  • Our Patchers have grown broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, lemon balm, marigolds, sunflowers, kale, and mint.  We use what we can in the kitchen; there was a fun time when we fried squash for the kids fresh from the garden!
  • We try to use local produce and food when we need to buy for our meals.  In season, a lot of the cucumbers, green beans, and tomatoes (for spaghetti sauce, tacos, sandwiches, or with dip) come from our own home gardens.  
  • We serve three to five servings of fresh fruits and/or vegetables every week.
  • Ice cold water is always available in our classrooms for whenever the kids need a water break.
  • We provide plenty of outdoor play time for our children to encourage healthy habits like exercise and having fun through play!

We recently received an email about the Farm to Preschool Program which we want to pass along.  It talks about the benefits of having your children in a preschool that participates in a Farm to Preschool program, like The Pa-Paw Patch!  Children become better eaters who enjoy healthy foods, leading to less risk of obesity.

See the article here.

Our Farm to Preschool efforts aren't stopping now!  We're revamping our playgrounds to make them more natural, with more plants and trees, garden areas, and natural play areas (think pathways made from "tree cookies", tic-tac-toe boards on stumps, grass mazes, and an outdoor circle time/dramatic play area).  These upgrades will encourage the kids to enjoy nature, exercise their imaginations and bodies, and teach them about the world around them.  We're really excited about what we do at The Pa-Paw Patch and want our parents and community to know the importance we place on developing the whole child through play-based learning!

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