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This press release was originally published by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

By Sydney Garrett

With a goal to educate children about the variety of specialty crops grown in Delaware, a program called “Read It and Eat: Teaching Children about Specialty Crops through Books in School Libraries” was created. The three-year program was launched by a partnership between Delaware Farm Bureau and the Delaware Department of Agriculture. The project was funded by a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant.

The “Read It and Eat” campaign placed book barns in over 100 Delaware public elementary schools. Each book barn contained at least 12 accurate ag books related to specialty crops grown within the state.

The campaign aimed to increase agricultural awareness in youth, answering questions about how food is grown, who grows food, and where food comes from. Other focus areas included decreasing child obesity and increasing confidence when trying new foods.

Adapting the Campaign

In order to adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19, the campaign resources were made digital and shared with teachers. Additional resources were created, such as videos of farmers reading the specialty crop books in their fields.

Building the book barns was no small task. Though Delaware Farm Bureau originally partnered with a local FFA chapter, Delaware Farm Bureau volunteers finalized the last 60 barns for distribution due to the pandemic.

The goal is to continue adding one new book to participating schools each year. When a new book is added, a farmer will be invited to read the book to students at the school and share a presentation about specialty crops.

Each visit ended by asking participants to take a survey related to what they had learned during the presentation. More than 1,050 students reported learning something new about specialty crops and 1,109 students said they were willing to try a new specialty crop they had never tasted.

Delaware Farm Bureau hopes that parents are also impacted by this campaign and willing to help students continue to learn by supporting their children in wanting to try new foods.

photo credit: Delaware Farm Bureau

Advice for Implementation

For states or counties interested in implementing similar programs, Delaware Farm Bureau advises they first see if there is a need and interest from the area elementary schools. From there, research what books are available. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s recommended publications can be found here (

New Horizon Award

The “Read It and Eat” program garnered Delaware Farm Bureau a 2023 New Horizon Award from the American Farm Bureau Federation. The award, which honors state Farm Bureaus with the most innovative new programs, is presented annually at the AFBF Convention.

Sydney Garrett is the communications assistant for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Post Author: Mikayla Paul

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