Weakley Daycares Receive Farm to Pre-School Support

Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network’s Farm-to-Preschool program, Nourishing Connection, is reaching close to 1,000 children and over 120 early childcare educators in Weakley County. All the materials and programming are provided at no cost to all 12 Weakley County early childcare programs involved thanks to continued funding from Tennessee Agriculture in the Classroom and support from the Weakley County Farm Bureau Women’s group.

The goal of the program is to nourish the connections children have with healthy produce, gardens and farms by providing hands-on agricultural and nutrition education experiences through hanging and onsite gardens. Nourishing Connection programming includes training teachers to access and implement Farm to Preschool curricula, conducting educational outreach to parents and educators, and planting different crops three times per year.

“Weakley County Farm Bureau Women are excited about our continued partnership with the Northwest Tennessee Food Network,” stated Linda Fowler, Weakley County Farm Bureau Women President. “Ag-in-the-Classroom is an important program for our grass roots organization. Today less that than 2 percent of the U.S. population is involved in production agriculture, and our farm families across the country realize how important it is for children to know where their food and fiber comes from. This program is a wonderful way to teach young children that food comes from the farm and not the grocery store. Weakley County Farm Bureau Woman appreciate the opportunity to assist the NWTN Local Food Network as they grow their Farm to Early Childcare Program. I know the young children in our community will enjoy planting and harvesting their gardens as they learn how food grows.”

This year 12 Weakley County early childcare centers have hanging gardens, bunk feeders, additional potted plants and in-ground gardens.

Children at Margaret Perry Childcare Center watch their okra grow.

“Young children have a natural curiosity and desire to learn about the world around them,” stated Beverly Shelby, Weakley County Extension Service. “With the support provided through the Ag in the Classroom Awards to the Nourishing Connection Program, children are given a hands-on opportunity to learn where their food comes from and how it grows. This “learning by doing” lays a foundation that will influence their choices, especially for health promoting foods such as vegetables and fruits throughout their lives.”

Participating Weakley County Early Childhood programs include: Christian Wee Learn (Martin), Gingerbread Junction (Dresden), Main Street Munchkins (Dresden), Pierce’s Pooh Bears (Gleason), Weakley County Head Start (Dresden), Sharon School (Sharon), Meme’s Day Care (Martin), Margaret Perry Children’s Center Rooms 3 and 4 (Martin), Cuddles and Crayons (Dresden), the Pumpkin Patch 3 (Martin), Stepping Stones/Ben’s Club House (Martin), and Tracey’s Home Daycare (Martin).

From left to right: Samantha Goyret – Executive Director, Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network; Jennifer McDaniels – Director, Christian Wee Learn Center; Linda Fowler – President, Weakley County Women’s Farm Bureau
From left to right: Samantha Goyret – Executive Director, Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network; Tracey Toney – Director, Aunt Tracey’s Home Day Care; Linda Fowler – President, Weakley County Women’s Farm Burea
From left to right: Samantha Goyret – Executive Director, Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network; Macey Jones – Co-Director, The Pumpkin Patch III; Linda Fowler – President, Weakley County Women’s Farm Bureau
Logo designed by Ashley Thomas, 2021 graduate at the University of Tennessee at Martin

The mission of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL. The LFN envisions a sustainable regional food system that utilizes locally grown and produced foods to promote healthy individuals, equitable communities and thriving local economies. For more information, please visit: nwtnlfn.org/nourishing-connection/ or Facebook@NWTNLFN.