Agriculture not only brings food to our table but it also brings us our table (wood) and our house (more wood)! We have agriculture to thank for our clothing (cotton, wool, bamboo), the landscaping at the local park (horticulture), and even our dog's food (meat and grain).
Dictionary.com has many definitions for agriculture. I like to break words down into chunks and figure out their meaning from there, so we will start by breaking it down. Agri is from the latin word ager and means “a field” and culture is “cultivation of.” So, agriculture literally means “the cultivation of a field.” That is quite a broad definition yet at the same time it leaves off entire sections of the agriculture industry.
My favorite way to define agriculture is a way I found while working on my master’s degree. The amazing people at Utah Ag in the Classroom need to give their brains a big kiss (sorry, I am still in 1st grade teacher mode)! Their handout explains agriculture as the five fs: Farming, Food, Fabric, Forestry, and Flowers. Now that is the way to explain agriculture to kids (and adults)!!
Let’s define the five fs a little more:
Farming – I think of farming as a practice. How people grow or raise the food we eat. Farming also covers growing plants to sell at the nursery and growing cut flowers. Most people use the words farm and ranch interchangeably. Farming also provides a habitat for many animals.
Food – This is the part of agriculture that all people can easily relate to – we all eat food. But, how it gets to our table is the part of food most people don’t understand.
Fabric – Everyone wears clothes (well, not nudists)! But, it is a little hard to connect a plant with a T-shirt if you didn’t grow up in the cotton belt. Fabric includes cotton, bamboo, hemp, leather, and more.
Forestry – Wood is used to make a huge variety of items we use every day! You would be amazed – I know I am! The forestry industry includes trees that are grow and harvested for use in a variety of ways. The forestry industry also provides and protects habitats for animals.
|Dinner - pork chops, acorn squash, salad, and bread.|
|Paper is a forestry product. This is a chart from a Kindergarten class at my school.|
|Flowers fresh from the Farmer's Market for my sister's baby shower. I can't take credit for buying these beauties but I had to take a picture.|