Looking for a way to teach your students all about American agriculture?
These Lesson Plans and Study Guides are available for your free and unlimited use.They were created by Food, Land, and People, a nonprofit organization committed to helping people of all ages better understand the origins of their food sources and the sustainability of their environment. FLP’s science- and social sciences-based curriculum is fully accredited and in use in schools across the U.S. These America’s Heartland resources are designed for middle school and high school students.
People have always been attracted to recreation in rural areas, whether skiing, fishing, hiking, or spending quality time down on the farm. One way in which farmers have been able to stay afloat in these tough economic times is to open up their operations to the curious public. From a reindeer ranch in Illinois to a bison farm in Kansas, agritourism not only benefits the farmer but it also educates city dwellers about local farming and local farm goods.
Animals make up a significant part of America’s agricultural trade. The United States is a world leader in both the export and import of animal products. Cattle, beef, and dairy are largely produced for national consumption while a portion of poultry and pork products are exported to countries like Japan, Russia and Mexico. Specialty livestock such as Emu and Bison are growing in popularity with American farmers.
Aquaculture is defined as the cultivation of aquatic organisms (as in fish, shellfish, or plants) especially for food. Catfish is the largest area of U.S. aquaculture with its production centered in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Popular fish grown as food in America includes: trout, salmon, tilapia, bass, and sturgeon. Idaho is the top trout producing state while Louisiana is first in crawfish and farming ponds in South Carolina, Texas, and Hawaii are filled with shrimp.
A career in agriculture rewards not only the farmer but the folks who buy his or her products. It can mean long hours and challenging working conditions but where else can you work the land, get plenty of fresh air, and be your own boss? Whether taking over an established dairy farm from aging relatives or starting an heirloom grain business from the ground up, careers in agriculture are varied and life enriching.
- Barn Saver
- To The Highest Bidder
- Women-owned Farms
- Kentucky Fried Success Story
- Tulmeadow Farm
- Cowboy College
- A Tale of Two Ranches
Farmers are true environmentalists at heart. Through innovations like conservation tillage, renewable fuels and high tech equipment, they are discovering new ways to sustain our most natural resources. They love the land and are committed to preserving our environment for generations to come.
The discipline of food science covers a wide range of subjects including harvesting, engineering, processing and chemistry. Food science plays an integral part in farming and agriculture by continuously uncovering new ways for farmers to produce the best crops and finest animals. One example of food science is the process of making cheese from dairy milk using bacterial organisms!
Fruit and Nuts
Are you getting your daily recommended servings of fruit? Americans consume only an average of 1.4 servings of fruit daily, far less than the recommended 4 servings. Apples, oranges, grapes, and bananas are the fruits Americans turn to most and the largest fruit-producing states are California, Washington, and Florida. The U.S. expenditure for nuts is also on the rise with almonds, pecans, and walnuts among the favorites. California’s warm climate helps the state to lead the way in production of grapes, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, kiwifruit, and tree nuts. Florida is almost synonymous with citrus fruits, just as Washington is with apples.
- Southern Strawberries
- Kiwi Fruit
- Mandarin Oranges
- Walnuts: Harvesting Good Health
- From Tree to Table
- Just Peachy!
Organic and “local” have been the buzz words of the fresh food market for many years. In an era when more and more Americans are paying attention to what goes into the food they eat, organic is a hot topic. According to the USDA, organic agriculture is “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.”
Whether it’s traditional maple sugaring in Massachusetts or a sister run salsa company in Kentucky, stories of specialty products abound in America’s Heartland. Oregon tops the list of states producing the most Christmas trees, followed by North Carolina, Washington and Michigan. And how about aloe vera grown in South Texas? The succulent plant is cultivated for its antiseptic gel and moisturizing properties. and some claim drinking aloe juice relieves ailments such as arthritis.
- Maple Sugaring
- Aloe, Good for What Ails You
- Home Turf
- Goat’s Milk Soap
- Ethnic Veggies
- The Kids Are Alright
Most businesses need to embrace new technology in order to survive and running a farm is no different. These days, farmers are just as likely to be found sitting behind their laptops as sitting behind the wheels of their tractors. From downloading weather reports to their cell phones to automating harvesting machinery, farmers are constantly looking for ways to make their jobs more productive in the modern world.
The Vegetable market in the U.S. can be divided into two types. fresh market and processing. Examples of processed vegetables would be canned, frozen, or dehydrated. With a growing emphasis on the role of vegetables in the pursuit of good health, fresh market vegetable production continues to rise. The Upper Midwest and Pacific states are the largest producers of processed vegetables while California, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, and Texas lead the way in fresh market vegetables. Despite the variety of vegetables available year-round, when eating out, American’s vegetable of choice is. fried potatoes.
- Georgia Carrots
- Iceberg Makes a Comeback
- Sweetest Ears on Earth
- Chili Harvest
- Texas Spinach
- Sweetness From the Soil (Arkansas)
- Sweetness From the Soil (Montana)