A lesson demonstrating the importance of agriculture to the growth and heritage of the United States.
Agriculture has been an integral part of the development and growth of the United States. Because agriculture was so important, the development of the agrarian unit was also of the utmost importance. Agrarian units differ across the United States from farms to plantations to ranches, but their purpose for growing crops and/or livestock was similar.
Agrarian units are like neighborhoods or small towns because they are a collection of related buildings. The location of an agrarian unit, like a town, may have been chosen because of a nearby water supply, a well-traveled road, the railroad, building materials, or because of the climate, terrain, and soil. Buildings on an agrarian unit have different and specific functions, but each is important to the whole operation. The field, pastures, gardens, work and recreation spaces, as well as its structures – are also important in the understanding of the cultural landscape. Tools, earthen mounds, pieces of pottery and other artifacts, both ancient and more recent, can enlighten us about people who lived on the agrarian unit many centuries before or just a generation or two previously. A carefully built stone wall, a fence row, a hedgerow, a windbreak, building foundations, a cemetery, even flowers that bloom where a house once stood are all pieces of evidence. We can use this evidence in classrooms to being to understand by whom and how the land was used.
The following integrated unit not only includes the components of Heritage Education: archaeology, historic structures and cultural landscapes, but also addresses state standards and benchmarks for the content areas of math, science, social studies and language arts. Important also is the message of stewardship that is key in Heritage Education. Although this unit focuses on a plantation home in central Louisiana, this unit can be adapted for use with other types of agrarian units. The activities and resources given are developmentally appropriate for fourth through eighth grade, but can be modified for all ages. In tailoring this unit, we encourage you to involve local resources and materials relevant to your particular location or type of agrarian unit.
Linda Easley Roach
*May be copied for educational purposes only and must include footer in reproduction. June, 2002