Farm-to-Childcare in North Carolina; A Holistic Case Study

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2015: $10,636.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2017
Grant Recipient: North Carolina State University
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. J. Dara Bloom
NC State University

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution
  • Sustainable Communities: community services, local and regional food systems, values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    The maturation of the local food movement necessitates access to new markets that present novel and sustainable options for farmers. Farm to childcare is a largely untapped market relationship that presents unique challenges and opportunities for producers, consumers and distributors. A pilot study in North Carolina suggests interest for farm to childcare partnerships exists, however, little research has been dedicated to understanding the unique challenges inherent to farmers participating as direct and indirect suppliers of fresh, local produce (McKinley, 2013). The proposed research is a case study of farm to childcare relationship, answering if facilitation of the farmer to childcare relationship is necessary through a third-party aggregation and logistical organization to obtain a price point that is viable for both producer and consumer. Case study methodology will be utilized through an iterative process of observations, interviews, document reviews and focus groups. Data collection will be performed with guiding objectives that add sub goals as new patterns emerge. Analysis through data organization, tabulation, coding and construction of a narrative answers the research question. Research activities also include farmer education, sharing lessons learned that best serve research participant’s needs in accessing childcare markets. This study will yield new insights into local food values-based supply chain strategies, specific to serving farmers’ needs to access and excel in serving emerging markets in childcare services.

    Project objectives from proposal:


      1. Engage 5 – 15 farmers for each cohort of childcare facilities (2) participating in this project through various educational and networking opportunities
          1. Develop a curriculum based on the needs of farmer participants to access and maintain business relationships with childcare facilities and distributors serving childcare facilities


      1. Conduct an in-depth case study of farm to childcare relationships, specifically comparing the experiences of farmers' that sell directly to childcare facilities and those that sell to distributors that service childcare facilities.
          1. Analyze participants’ perceptions before and after they are engaged in the farm to childcare market

          1. Explore historical data surrounding participating businesses’ missions and plans to validate context for their present activity

          1. Examine participants’ daily activities within the context of their work, attending educational events and in exchanges with other farm to childcare participants.

          1. Observe, participate in and analyze participants’ daily activities, including on-site actions, conversations and during trainings.

          1. Explore and critique participants’ challenges to various components of the farm to childcare relationship.


    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.