Farris Expands Gardening and Nutrition Education Through FoodCorps

From the Van Buren School District:

Local lettuce served in the Van Buren School District
Photo from the Van Buren School District

When Delaney Farris first joined FoodCorps, she had no idea how deeply invested she would become in the program and its participants. Evidence of the hard work she has poured into the Van Buren School District can be seen across campus gardens, in classrooms, and on cafeteria salad bars. She has helped expand existing agriculture efforts and led the charge to connect schools to the community through gardening and nutrition education.

The Crawford County native stepped into her role as VBSD FoodCorps team member in 2017. Implemented by AmeriCorps, the national initiative partners with local schools and organizations to engage children and help give them knowledge about, and access to, nutritious foods. At the time Farris was assigned, the program had been in place at Van Buren for only one year, but was already experiencing great success.

“When Delaney came to Van Buren, we were still in the learning process, but were receiving positive feedback about FoodCorps and the impact it was having on students,” said VBSD Activities Administrator Drew Cone. “She took what we already had started and built upon that, leading to the creation of gardens at Central and Rena Elementary Schools. She has also been instrumental in adding outdoor classroom features at Parkview, as well as a chicken coop and a greenhouse.”

Farris is passionate about teaching students the value of growing their own food. She visits classrooms and takes learning outside, where students plant and harvest items. She also partners with educators to integrate her work into their curriculum and to hold special activities such as farmer’s markets and family nights. Farris oversees the Sprout Scouts program, which gives interested students even more opportunities to work outdoors. She also holds routine taste tests to expose students to healthy produce direct from the school garden. Such engagement helps open students’ minds to the possibility of trying new foods and venturing outside their comfort zones.

“I have a student who isn’t fond of trying new things,” said Farris. “We have a deal that he can just smell whatever we are tasting. We were in our herb garden checking on our basil and mint and trying the leaves. He picked a basil leaf, gave it a smell, and we moved on. A few minutes, later I hear him yelling, ‘This basil is DIVINE, Miss Delaney. I really think I need to take some home to my family!’”