Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt book, by Kate Messner
• Garden Mapping Diagram worksheet
• Colored pencils
• 1 Dice
• Vegetable Information card
• Garden Yield Projections worksheet
• Unexpected Variables cards
• Garden Income & Expenses worksheet
Explore the world of gardening through owning a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation! Students will explore economics as it relates to owning and operating a program through a simulation.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a program where consumers pay for a “part or share” of the farm. Each farm has their own share system based on what they grow and the seasons in which they have fresh produce to distribute. Each person holding a share receives a portion of the farm’s crop yield. CSA farms are growing in popularity as people want fresh produce to feed their families. In 2015, to the United States Department of Agriculture estimated that 7,398 farms sold products through a community supported agriculture program directly to consumers. CSA farms were first developed to provide produce to people that don’t have access to gardens to grow food and to meet a growing demand for food grown on small acreage farms.
Introduction to Garden and Community Supported Agriculture
1. Explain to students that there are many considerations that must be made in order to grow a garden. Today, we are going to explore some of those concepts through a book about gardening.
2. Read the book, Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner
3. Review the following questions with students after reading the book:
a. What kinds of creatures lived in the garden in the story?
b. How do the creatures in the garden affect the plants growing there?
c. What are some of the benefits of having living organisms in the garden?
d. What are some of the consequences of having living organisms in the
4. Introduce students to the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
Explain to students that Community Supported Agriculture is a program where members pay a farmer to have a box of fresh produce delivered or available for pickup on a regular basis. CSA farms were first developed to provide produce to people that don’t have access to gardens to grow food and to meet a growing demand for food grown on small acreage farms. We are going to watch this short video about CSA farms in Oregon.
5. Watch Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Community Supported Agriculture video (https://youtu.be/Rf2OBxcqHwg).
Activity 1: Map your CSA!
1. Provide students with the following scenario before they begin the activity.
Today, you are going to take on the role of the owner of a local CSA with 10 acres to grow potatoes, lettuce, radish, spinach and broccoli. You will be selling Winter Shares for $24 per box of vegetables delivered on a weekly basis to local families. As an owner you will create a name for your farm and decide how much of each vegetable to plant.
2. Provide students with a copy of the Garden Mapping Diagram and a set of colored pencils.
3. Instruct students to create a name for their CSA operation and list it in the space provided.
4. Then, instruct students to determine the amount of each crop listed on their worksheet to grow on their 10 acre farm, record each of the amounts in the chart provided. Students must grow at least one acre of each crop to provide a diverse offering of vegetables for their customers.
5. Using the map legend, students will shade in the grid based on where they would plant each crop on their farm with the corresponding color from the chart. Ten squares equals one acre. For example, if you grow 2 acres of potatoes, you would shade 20 squares brown.
Activity 2: Garden Yield Projections
1. Provide each student with a Garden Yield Projections worksheet.
2. Instruct students to fill in the acres column with the amounts they decided to grow of each crop from the Garden Mapping Diagram.
3. Then, have them calculate the projected yield by multiplying the acres by the yield/acre to determine the amount the garden will produce.
Activity 3: Determining profitability
1. Explain to students that farmers plant based on projections of expenses and income among other important considerations but there are a lot of uncontrollable expenses that affect their profit that are difficult to predict. In this activity, you will explore some of the unpredictable factors that could occur.
2. Provide students with a set of Unexpected Variable cards, a Garden Income & Expenses worksheet and one die.
3. Have students begin by filling in the acre column on their worksheet with the number of acres they have “planted” of each crop based on their Garden Mapping Diagram.
4. After, they will pick up one of the Unexpected Variable card to begin. They will read through the information on the card, then roll their die.
5. The number they roll will determine how their crop fared in the season. They will then fill in the yield or expense column accordingly.
6. Have students repeat this process for all of their crops and Unexpected Variable cards.
7. After determining the unexpected variables, students will fill in any remaining empty boxes with the projected numbers provided on the Vegetable Information card.
8. Then, have students go through line by line and calculate their total yield based on the numbers they recorded.
9. After, have students find the sum of their expenses and list it in the subtotal expenses box.
10. Have students complete the three questions at the bottom of their worksheet to determine how many boxes they will be able to distribute and whether their farm was profitable.
11. Review the following questions as a class:
a. What made your farm successful or unsuccessful?
b. What would you do differently?