the Green Desk

Welcome to the Green Desk

 NLI Disclaimer

The Green Desk is a resource for early childhood educators, childcare providers, administrators, and professionals seeking the latest information to create high quality, healthy outdoor environments for young children. Please feel free to share your questions and comments with us and we will do our best to address them in a timely manner. Responses will show up here as blog postings. If you subscribe to our RSS feeds or E-Newsletter, you will be notified when new topics are posted.  

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LOCAL FOODS: Childcare Center Production Gardens

Design guidance, Edibles, Installation, Latest

This series of eight resource publications released by the NC Cooperative Extension is available on the Local Foods Webportal. NLI worked in collaboration with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and NC Cooperative Extension to produce the Childcare Center Production Garden Series which covers creating a childcare garden, growing and preparing fruits and vegetables in both warm and cool seasons, and composting techniques.

Child Care OLE Regulation FAQ in North Carolina


The Natural Learning Initiative has worked together with several different regulating agencies and organizations in North Carolina to get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about safety, risk, and regulations in child care outdoor environments.

Digging in the Dirt


Questions About Digging in the Dirt:

Is it okay to have a dirt pile in the playground?
What kind of dirt is appropriate?

Inclusion of Natural Elements in the Play Yard


 Questions About Including Natural Elements in the Play Yard:

Are large stones and rocks considered tripping hazards?

What are some important considerations related to using small stumps to create a stepping activity, such as a need for resilient surfacing or concerns about splintering?

Can we have stumps with lichen or mushrooms growing on them?

Learning about Birds, Bugs, and other Critters


Questions About Birds, Bugs, and other Critters

What types of bird feeders are acceptable?
How should we maintain the water in a bird bath?
Is it okay to dig for bugs or use a "carpet lift-up" to observe them?

What about keeping tadpoles in a classroom to watch them develop?


Seating & Spaces Outdoors to Observe and Just Be


Question About Seating and Spaces Outdoors to Observe and Just Be:

What types of bench swings and/or gliders are suitable for use in the play environment?


Having a Picnic


Question About Having a Picnic:

How can we have a picnic outdoors and still meet licensing requirements for meals?

Growing Tomatoes in Preschool Gardens


Questions About Growing Tomatoes in Preschool Gardens:

Are tomatoes allowed?

More on Bees and other Pollinators

Insects, Wildlife

At the 9th Annual Natural Learning Design Institute, Debbie Roos, Agricultural Extension Agent, NC Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center, made a presentation titled Please Design My Garden with Flowers but No Bees about the benefits of bees and other polinators.

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