SHINE Element 5: Edible Gardening


Guidance for implementing the criteria for Element 5, Edible Gardening, of the Preschools Shaping Healthy Impressions through Nutrition and Exercise (SHINE) program.

Criteria for Element 5, Edible Gardening

  1. Include an edible indoor or outdoor garden at the preschool site.
  2. Provide enriching gardening activities for children a minimum of once each month.

Children who plant and harvest their own fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat and appreciate these healthy foods. By incorporating edible gardens at child care sites, child care programs can help children learn where foods come from and develop an early connection with nature. The garden can also be used as an interactive classroom space to enrich children’s learning of various academic subjects such as mathematics, science, language arts, literacy, and social studies.

Follow the practices below to meet the criteria for Element 5.

  1. Include an edible indoor or outdoor garden at the preschool site
    Identify resources to learn how to start a garden if you are starting from scratch. Two helpful resources are listed below:
      When planning the garden, consider a variety of safe and edible fruits and vegetables and the conditions (sunlight, space, and time) they may require. Practice food safety:
    • Ensure children wash their hands after working in the garden.
    • Consider safety rules for gardening and whether the soil, water, and garden are safe for children.
    • Inspect all produce harvested from the garden and wash all produce carefully before serving to young children.
    • Contact the local health department to ensure that local and state requirements are met.

    For additional food safety tips and resources, refer to the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA)Implementing Farm to School Activities: Food Safety web page, scroll down to access the 'Food Safety in School Gardens' section.
  1. Provide enriching gardening activities for children a minimum of once each month
    Use a developmentally appropriate curriculum to incorporate edible gardening into the child care program. For garden curricula and resources, access the resources listed below:

Include garden activities to help children develop a connection to food:
  • Take a field trip to visit farmers’ markets, farms, orchards, or local bakeries and other food venues. To locate a farmers’ market in your area, visit the California Department of Public Health Farmers’ Markets web page.
  • Plan garden activities that will engage children in physical movement and enhance fine motor skills.
  • Use the garden to practice skills from other curricular subjects:
    • Mathematical skills: Counting and organizing by various categories
    • Language arts: Naming colors, shapes, plants, fruits, vegetables, and animals in the garden
    • Science: Participating in hands-on preparing, planting, tending, harvesting, and cooking activities
    • Arts and crafts: Creating garden-related projects (e.g., leaf rubbings)

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Questions:  Preschools SHINE Program |

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Last updated: August 2023