In celebration of National Farm to Preschool Day
By Kathleen Reed, Michigan Good Food Charter Intern
On October 14, A & W Daycare broke ground on a new school garden that they hope will be in full bloom this coming spring and will bring fresh herbs, garlic, onions, and other vegetables to the kitchen of the daycare. They hope to grow enough to not only feed the school during the growing season, but also to stock their freezers with extra produce for use in winter months. This particular Detroit school garden development coincided with National Farm to Preschool Day. Farm to Preschool promotes the eating of healthy, fresh, and local foods at preschools and early childcare centers. Some activities that Farm to Preschool initiatives include are gardening, nutrition education, and partnering with farmers and food distributors to buy local foods for programs that serve children ages 0-6.
With garden resources and planning assistance from Keep Growing Detroit and funding through the MSU Center for Regional Food System’s Michigan Farm to School Grant Program and W.K.Kellogg Foundation, A & W Daycare was able to plan and begin implementation of their new garden that will supply produce to feed their students, as well as provide a way for the children to interact with and learn from garden based activities throughout the growing season. Mr. Al Macki, founder of the A & W Daycare alongside his wife, is certainly looking forward to the coming growing season; “Our goal is to have the children understand what fresh fruits and vegetables we are able to grow in Michigan. We will also incorporate hands on learning for the children – letting them help grow the products, taste different vegetables, and share what they learn with their parents.”
Despite the gray skies and pouring rain, volunteers came together with the daycare owners to build pathways, prep beds, and plant garlic and perennials. Julia Smith, PhD, the Farm to School Specialist at the Center for Regional Food Systems, said of the work day, “It was a great rainy way to celebrate Farm to Preschool Day and I was really encouraged by the community support for the garden.” Through the help of dedicated volunteers and Keep growing Detroit, A & W can begin to realize their goal of self-sufficiency.
Volunteers gather for a picture with daycare owner Al Macki after a successful garden build-out. Photo courtesy of Julia Smith.
If you are interested in learning more about Farm to School programming or looking to bring your school or early childhood center into the network of Michigan schools supporting Farm to School programming there are many resources. Some include the Center for Regional Food Systems Farm to School website, this Michigan Farm to School factsheet, and other Farm to School curriculum ideas from the Michigan Land Use Institute and FoodCorps. You can also find more resources and national Farm to School information at the National Farm to School Network and the National Farm to Preschool Network websites.