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Lesson Plan 12 - Agriculture
download lesson12.pdf

This lesson introduces students to some of the varied crops and livestock that have been raised in California. You can view or print most single images directly as a JPEG file. However, some documents are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format and must be viewed or printed with Acrobat Reader. In Lesson 12, students use the Sacramento History Online database at

1. Give examples of the different types of crops that have been important in California agriculture.
2. Explain why growers formed cooperative organizations.
3. Use the SHO database to find specific historical information.

4.1.3 - 4.1.5 Physical and human geographic features that define places and regions in California
4.4.5 - 4.4.6 California's rise as an agricultural and industrial power

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DOCUMENTS TO DISCUSS (view online or print screen)
The documents below provide information about and illustrations of California crops.
CLICK on an image to view or print the document.

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1. Yolo County pamphlet
[ca. 1913]
This pamphlet describes crops grown in Yolo county and includes many photos.

download PDF file
2. Sacramento County pamphlet
[ca. 1926]
This brochure provides similar information about Sacramento County.

view large image
3. A wheat field
[ca. 1924]
Man demonstrates how tall wheat has grown on Natomas Lands wheat farm.

view large image
4. Field of beans
Man displays bean vine, approximately three weeks after planting.

view large image
5. Peach harvest
Wagon with peaches.

view large image
6. Summit Pears crate label
[ca. 1900]
This label features the California Fruit Exchange Blue Anchor brand logo.

download PDF file
7. Almond harvest history
This brochure documents the harvesting and processing of almonds before mechanical equipment was used.

view large image
8. Almond advertising
Drawing/painting of a young girl holding a basket of California almonds. It is a cut-out mounted on card stock.

view large image
9. E. Clemens Horst hop field
[between 1900 and 1920]
View of mule-drawn hop wagon, filled with hop vines at the edge of Horst's hop field in Wheatland.

view large image
10. Ostrich farm ad
Advertisement for the Sacramento Ostrich Farm.
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1. Print any of the images shown above that you will use in your discussion, as well as Student Activity Sheet 12 and Key. (Label the images by their number to identify them in the instructions).

2. Read Background Article 12. You may wish to read it to your students or print it and have them read it by themselves. Discuss any questions that they may have.

3. Documents 1 and 2, Pamphlets for Yolo and Sacramento Counties. Ask students to list crops and livestock that are raised in California. These documents may then be used for small group activities. Have students read through the documents and look at the pictures. They may need help in understanding some of the flowery vocabulary used, so you may want to read and discuss specific pages with them. Have each group make a chart for the booklet they studied, listing the livestock raised and the crops mentioned. Can they identify any changes in the counties and in agriculture since the booklets were published?

4. Document 3, A wheat field. Ask students to guess the crop. Relate the image to those of the Natomas reclamation project in Lesson 11. Have students list foods that include wheat. Discuss the importance of wheat in California agriculture.

5. Document 4, Field of beans. Ask the students to guess what crop is shown. Discuss the meaning of the term row crops and ask students to name other plants that are grown in rows. Some students may have had experience growing row crops in a garden. Discuss the tasks involved in growing and harvesting such crops.

6. Document 5, Peach harvest. Have students identify other fruits that are grown in California.

7. Document 6, Summit Pears crate label. Tell students that the Blue Anchor logo means that the grower belonged to the California Fruit Exchange. Discuss the benefits of collaborative marketing organizations such as the Exchange.

8. Document 7, Almond harvest history. This document illustrates how almonds were harvested before the introduction of mechanical equipment. You may want to print several of the documents for children to review in small groups. Find out how almonds are harvested today and discuss what has changed. If you have access to almonds in the hull, bring some of them into the classroom for children to see.

9. Document 8, Almond advertising. The historical collection of the California Almond Growers Exchange is stored in the Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center, which has included many of these documents in the Sacramento History Online Collection. This cutout is one example of a collaborative marketing effort for the Blue Diamond brand. Ask students how they think it might have been used. (possibly as a store or fair display)

10. Document 9, E. Clemens Horst hop field. Hops is an unusual crop with which many children might not be familiar, but it was once an important agricultural product in California. You can see a very early film of the Horst Hops Ranch on this site. To download and play the film clips, you must have a current QuickTime Player (6.0 or higher).

11. Document 10, Ostrich farm ad. How many children have seen a real ostrich? Where? If possible, bring an ostrich feather to class to show children. Have they seen other unusual animals on farms in California? (llamas, buffalo, etc.)

12. Give students the following activity sheet Activity Sheet 12: California Crops (printed from the PDF file). After they have finished the activity, discuss their answers as a group.

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1. Search the SHO collection together, using the keyword search. How many of the crops on the lists created in Instruction Number 3 above can you find represented in the collection?

2. Document 1, The Yolo County pamphlet mentions that land could be purchased for six to 125 dollars per acre. Find out how much 20 acres of land would cost today and compare the two prices.

3. Draw an ad for an agricultural product that could be used in a store display.

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2003 Teacher resource guide: A guide to educational materials about agriculture.
  Sacramento, CA: California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, 2003.

Coats, L. J. The almond orchard. New York:
 Macmillan Publishing Company, 1991. (juvenile, set in the early 1900s)

Kelley, R. L. Gold vs. grain: The hydraulic mining controversy
  in California's Sacramento Valley
. Glendale, CA: A.H. Clark Co., 1959.

Jelinek, L.J. Harvest empire: A history of California agriculture.
  San Francisco, CA: Boyd and Fraser Publishing Company, 1979.

Schlebecker, J.T. Whereby we thrive: A history of American farming, 1607-1972.
  Ames, IA: The Iowa State University Press, 1975.

Selling the Gold: The history of Sunkist and Pure Gold. Stanford, CA: Stanford
  Upland Library Foundation, 1999.

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technical summary of almond characteristics

California Asparagus Commission
includes a page for kids

California State Historical Landmarks for Yuba County
includes marker information for Wheatland Hop Riot

History of Almonds from Blue Diamond Growers

History of Blue Diamond Growers

Oranges for Health--California for Wealth
history of citrus farming

Ostrich entry in World Almanac for Kids

sacbee: Our Century
overview of life in Sacramento 1900-1919, mentions Wheatland riot and importance of canneries

Sunkist Growers
includes a page for kids

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