Introducing Locally Grown Produce to Childcare Centers during Winter While Promoting Sustainable Nutrition through Education and Marketing

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $7,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Jennifer Sikes
Rhodes Mtn Greenhouse

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: asparagus, beets, cabbages, cauliflower, eggplant, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, marketing management
  • Pest Management: biological control, prevention, trap crops
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, community services, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    This project focuses on educating children to develop skills to grow their own food, learn how vegetables are the base food of lots of value-added food choices, and marketing our locally grown healthy vegetables to childcare centers to make nutritional meal plans.

    We strongly feel that by growing produce in the winter and teaching children about healthy food through a hands-on approach, we can influence our community to make life-changing decisions in their food choices. Hopefully, we can encourage other growers to develop their own greenhouse or high tunnel operations to help supply vegetables to more children in our community and even communities around us.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our project will cover a two year timeframe. The first year will be limited to one childcare center and increase to two centers the second year. This will ensure our greenhouse production can meet the potential demands of the centers. The project will begin in July of the first year and continue until March. During this time, children from the center will take a minimum of three field trips to our farm to observe how the greenhouse functions and how vegetables are planted, grown and harvested. They will be able to plant seeds, such as basil, carrots, and lettuce, in containers and be able to watch them grow until they are harvested. Samples of the vegetables will be given to the children and staff to take back to their families to encourage them to get excited about growing and eating vegetables.

    Along with the field trips, visits will be made to the childcare center bringing samples of different vegetables for them to taste. Periodic e-mails will be sent to the center showing progress pictures of the crops the children have planted. We will assist the local county health department’s childcare consultant and nutritionist in developing a presentation for the children and staff on the benefits of a healthy diet and provide healthy menu ideas. As vegetables are harvested, they will be marketed to the childcare center to prepare a proper diet plan for the children. Following the first year, we will evaluate our program and prepare the second phase which will again operate from July through March. During this time, the program will operate in much the same manner as the first phase, but will include a second childcare center.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.