The Delaware Farm Bureau will be placing more than a dozen ag-accurate books in every elementary school library in the First State within the next three years. To house the books in each library, DFB will provide a custom-made set of shelves called a book barn.
The book barn project was begun in New Castle County, according to NCC Farm Bureau President Stewart Ramsey, who chairs the Promotion and Education Committee. At an American Farm Bureau Convention several years ago, the Delaware delegation saw a similar project undertaken by another state farm bureau. Ramsey’s father-in-law made the first book barn.
Another New Castle County farmer, Jimmy Correll, built a few more that winter, and since then, Smyrna FFA has built additional barns, with materials paid for by the farm bureau. Gradually, as funds became available to purchase books, these have been placed in schools.
The project now has been accelerated thanks to a specialty crop grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, administered by Delaware Department of Agriculture. Specialty crops are, in general, fruits and vegetables, as opposed to row crops of grain such as corn, soybeans and wheat. Christmas trees and honey bees are included.
With the grant funds, the DFB has purchased more than 1,000 copies of ag-accurate books appropriate for children about crops grown in Delaware, such as apples, cranberries, grapes, green beans, peas, spinach and zucchini. A few of the books cover multiple crops, including “How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?” and “Who Grew My Soup?”
Also included are several of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s Book of the Year selections, including this year’s “Right This Very Minute” by Lisl H. Detlefsen. This book follows children through a day of meals, snacks and dessert to explore what farmers and ranchers are doing “right this very minute” to put food on consumers’ tables.
Book barns were delivered to Rehoboth Elementary School March 28 and to Shields Elementary in Lewes April 2.
At Rehoboth, 72 fourth-graders went outside on a beautiful spring day to hear Sussex County Farm Bureau’s Women’s Chair Connie Fox read “Right This Very Minute.”
At Shields Elementary, Nancy King of King Crop Insurance in Georgetown read “Green Bean! Green Bean!” to 95 fourth-graders as they ate lunch in the cafeteria. Each student was given a packet of green bean seeds and recipes using spring crops to take home.
Agriculture is an $8 billion industry in the First State, accounting for 30,000 Delaware jobs. There are 2,500 farms in the state, covering some 500,000 acres. Delaware Farm Bureau feels it is important for students to learn about agriculture, and these colorful books are a good introduction, Ramsey said.
To schedule delivery of a book barn during the next school year, elementary school principals may call Heather Kline at the DFB office, 302-697-3183.