Farmers and Growers
Social Studies and Language Arts Activity
Students research the roles of western farmers and growers.
WHAT YOU NEED
- Reference materials with information on agriculture in the West
- (optional) Large, poster-sized map of the West
- (optional) Small, reproducible map of the West
WHAT TO DO
- Tell students that there are many different kinds of farmers and growers in
the West. There are enough, in fact, so that each of them might represent a
different one. Each of them is to gather as much information as he or she can
about one such farmer or grower and role-play what it is like to do that kind
- Explain that there are many specialty crops grown in the West. Tell students
that the reference books you have gathered (and others they can find in the
library) will help them learn more about farming and growing in the West. Have
students work in teams to develop a list of the different roles they might
play; for example, operator of an orange grove in California, owner of an apple
orchard in Washington, manager of a pineapple plantation in Hawaii. Then assign
or have students sign up for their roles.
- Suggest that as students research their roles, they keep the following
issues in mind, just as they would if they really engaged in growing that
- How much land is available in that state for this kind of growing?
- What resources do you need (such as rainfall, irrigation sources, soil) and
what is actually available?
- What kind of fertilizer do you use and are there pollution concerns because of
- What is the market for that crop? Where is the market?
- Is growing this crop expensive? Will you be able to make a profit?
- Organize role-players into panels of four or five students, with panels
scheduled over a period of several days. Have each student make a
three-to-five-minute oral presentation using visual props and/or graphic
representations. Allow time for about a ten-minute question-and-answer session.
Tell questioners that they should apply what they have learned about their own
crop to develop their questions.
Make copies of and distribute small maps of the West. Have students outline or
highlight the states in which they are growers and label them with the names of
their crops. Have students transfer the same information to a large map of the
West, labeling and signing each location.
Students should learn from this activity that farmers share similar concerns.
Convene a farmers and growers "convention" around one such issue. Attendees can
share concerns and likely solutions. Possibilities might include such topics as
alternatives to chemical fertilizers, developing foreign markets, and forming
Have students find statistics about each crop and create a graph based on what
is produced each year. Graphs might be specific to one state and show change
over several years. Or they might compare two different crops.
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