Image of wheat

Activity #2: New Foods for the New World — Growing Cash Crops
Demographically, New Yorkers' familiarity with agriculture has changed over the past century and a half. Historically the majority of New York's population lived in rural areas and made their living as farmers or in service to farmers. The profession of farming has declined so much that it was dropped as an occupational category on the 2000 United States Census.

Recently, New York's farmers have discovered that specializing in organic, ethnic or specialty crops can make the difference between the economic success and failure of their farm.

  • Review excerpts from the Late 1800's Farm Family and the Economy in New York State, a Yorkers document-based question activity. Have students view the images and answer the accompanying questions.
  • Invite a specialty farmer into your classroom to speak with your students about how economic decisions have affected their crop plantings. What crops have they decided to grow? What economic factors influenced this decision? Where do they sell their crops? Create a recipe collection using the crops mentioned by your visiting specialty farmers.
    You can search for specialty farmers in your area at the New Farm — Farm Locator website http://www.newfarm.org/ farmlocator/index.php