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Agricultural Literacy Week Archive

ALW 2018 - Before We Eat: From Farm to Table

Before We Eat: From Farm to Table

By Pat Brisson and Illustrated by Mary Azarian

We are proud to feature a book that displays the vast opportunities and diversity that New York agriculture encompasses this year. Students will be taken on the journey from farm to table to understand different aspects of agriculture and the many possible careers involved. This is a captivating glimpse on what it takes to bring the food we eat to us in order to nourish our bodies and spirits.

From the busy hub of New York City, to the mountains of the Adirondacks, and to the fertility of the Finger Lakes our state is expansive and encompasses all types of agricultural industries. Careers and post-secondary education opportunities are abundant in traditional and developing food-centric industries. Agriculture contributes over $37 billion to the New York State economy and ranks in the top ten in the nation for yogurt, apples, grapes, calves, and onions, among other products. These products and industries create careers essential to the food system that are not always initially thought of: arborists, soil engineers, animal geneticists, butchers, aquaculturists, truck drivers, grocers, and more.

STEM careers and post-secondary opportunities of all kinds are highlighted with vivid illustrations. It will be essential for our students to understand the importance of agriculture as an economic driver in communities across New York, and develop an awareness for future career possibilities. All lessons, activities, and companion materials are aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards.

Educator Resources

Educator Resource Guide
This resource includes the food-system mapping lesson plan, vocabulary, K-2 domain connections, and extension opportunities to further learning about the many steps in moving food from the farm to the fork.

Sequencing Cards
The sequencing cards are available to print. They are an essential file for the featured activity explained in the Educator Resource Guide.

Additional New York Agriculture Products for Featured Activity
If you are interested in swapping out the apple or Chobani cup for the Agricultural Literacy Week featured activity, consider using any of the items featured in this document. Bring in samples or examples of products that are of most interest to you, or that you produce on your farm.

Food Mapping Worksheet
As a learning extension for grades 3-5, break your students into groups with a New York agriculture product and have them complete the Food Mapping Worksheet. Have them share their ideas with the group and discuss their accuracy or talk about the actual processes the item went through. Additionally, the worksheet can be used with grades K-2 and filled in as you talk about the provided products as a class.

Vocabulary Quizlet
Teachers are encouraged to use our Before We Eat Quizlet to prepare their students for their volunteer reader's classroom visit.

Volunteer Training Video
New and returning volunteers for Agricultural Literacy Week should watch this video for helpful insight into reading the book and delivering the short activity to your assigned classrooms. We hope this visual and conversational guide will help you feel prepared to share your knowledge and passion about agriculture.

Lesson Extensions

  • Have your students identify some of the different careers in the book and explore their favorite one. Students could then identify specific duties, education, and pathways for this career.
  • Ask your students to identify someone in their life that takes part in the food system and write a letter thanking them for their role (i.e. cafeteria worker, farmer, parent, etc.).
  • Explore the food system with other New York agriculture products. Visit our website for a list of products and some examples.

Teacher Reference

  • Growing Food
    This curriculum module is designed to teach science through study of the food system. The module's driving question — How does nature provide us with food? — frames students' investigations as they learn about critical ideas in science: the cycling of matter and the flow of energy. Students engage in hands-on investigations of photosynthesis, explore food webs, discuss and debate managing agricultural systems, and more.

Lesson Plans

  • Source Search (Grades K-2)
    Source Search (Grades 3-5)
    In this lesson students will learn that agriculture provides nearly all of the products we rely on in any given day by participating in a relay where they match an everyday item with its "source."
  • My Farm Web (Grades K-2)
    My Farm Web (Grades 3-5)
    Students use the visual representation of a web to explore the role of agriculture in their daily lives and understand how most of the necessities of life can be traced back to the farm.
  • A is for Apples (Grades K-2)
    Students will use the five senses to investigate apples, identify and model the parts of an apple, make applesauce, and learn how apples are grown.
  • Fruits of Our Labor (Grades K-2)
    Students will discover how fresh fruits can be dried and preserved by participating in an activity where they make raisins by drying grapes.
  • Where Does it Come From? (Grades 3-5)
    Students will explore the connection between geography, climate, and the type of agriculture in an area by reading background information and census data about the agricultural commodities beef, potatoes, apples, wheat, corn, and milk.
  • Grocery Store Problem Solving (Grades 3-5)
    Students will use basic mathematical skills to solve problems related to the cost of food while integrating geography and nutrition to enhance learning. Activities include analyzing grocery ads, assessing the nutrition and cost of meals, and exploring diets around the world.
  • Edible Numbers (Grades 3-5)
    Students will develop a working vocabulary regarding food, categorize foods by their sources, examine grocery ads, learn about food production, and apply what they learned by analyzing foods they eat at a particular meal.


  • Food Doesn't Grow in the Supermarket!
    This DVD, narrated by children, follows "The City Guy," an adult who thinks he knows where food comes from (the grocery store), as he visits three different farms to learn where food really comes from and what it takes to produce it. Interesting even for those who have experience in farming and food production! This video is available on DVD or YouTube
  • Planet Food Online Game
    Have your students discover their own global food network by playing Planet Food—a two-part interactive game that introduces the concepts of interdependence and globalization through the geography of food. In part one, students see the ways food on their plate creates a map that criss-crosses the world. Part two will call on their critical thinking and geographic decision-making skills in an investigative journey as they consider different values and points of view while making a bar of chocolate.
  • Virtual Field Trip to an Egg Farm
    Join egg farmers and their families to learn how eggs travel from farm to table.

ALW 2017 - The Grapes Grow Sweet

The Grapes Grow Sweet

By Lynne Tuft and Illustrated by Tessa DeCarlo

With the advent of New York's booming grape industries we are proud to feature a book that so wonderfully captures this way of life for over 1,600 family-owned vineyards in our state. New York ranks third nationally in grape production, with 75% of grapes produced being made into grape juice and the other 25% processed into wine and used in the craft beverage industry.

STEM careers and post-secondary opportunities related to the grape industry are also growing in our state; from grape production, research, crop management, processing, tourism, and hospitality. It will be essential for our students to understand the importance of grapes as an economic driver in communities across New York, and develop an awareness for future career possibilities. All lessons, activities, and companion materials are aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards.

2017 Teacher Resource Guide

  • Educator Resource Guide
    This resource provides the lesson plan information for the featured taste-testing activity for this year, along with vocabulary, domain connections, and alignment to the Common Core Learning Standards.
  • Vocabulary Quizlet
    Prepare your students for their Agricultural Literacy Week visit by reviewing the vocabulary they will hear in the book.
  • Newspapers in Education Resources
    Use these resources and read three profiles of NYS grape growers, use the provided crossword puzzle and word search to reinforce vocabulary, learn how to give an interview, and find classroom-friendly recipes.

ALW 2016 - The Apple Orchard Riddle

The Apple Orchard Riddle

By Margaret McNamara and Illustrated by G. Brian Karas

The selected book for 2016 is The Apple Orchard Riddle by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas. This fun and exciting story shares the journey of Mr. Tiffin's class on a field trip to an apple orchard. The students learn about every aspect of the farm from how apples are harvested, the process of making cider, and the many different varieties of apples. While the class picks their apples and experiences the farm, Mr. Tiffin gives them all a riddle to ponder. This book was selected as the 2015 American Farm Bureau Foundation for Education's Book of the Year.

This year's focus on apple production is exciting because of the importance of the apple industry in New York State, as we are ranked second nationally in production. Apples provide over 17,000 direct and indirect jobs, and there are over 680 apple producers on 55,000 acres across the state. Through the Agricultural Literacy Week program teachers, students, and parents can learn more about this nutritionally and economically healthy and essential industry. All lessons, activities, and companion materials are aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards.

2016 Teacher Resource Guide

  • Educator Resource Guide
    This guide will provide the hands-on lesson connected to this year's book The Apple Orchard Riddle. Also find Common Core Learning Standard alignment, connections to NYS teaching domains, vocabulary, and companion books and resources.
  • Quizlet
    Cover vocabulary found in the book before your volunteer comes to visit. This quizlet includes vocabulary and photos.
  • New York Apple Country
    Use the educational information from NY's Apple Country to learn more about apple production in New York State, and to find apple orchards near you.
  • Newspapers in Education Apple Resources
    Interviews with apple producers, word searches, and more apple-related learning extensions are available from Newspapers in Education.

ALW 2015 - Weaving the Rainbow

Weaving the Rainbow

by George Ella Lyon and Illustrated by Stephanie Anderson

The signature book for 2015 is Weaving the Rainbow by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Stephanie Anderson. In this beautiful story a young girl leads the reader through the process of raising and caring for animals, with the end result of using their well-cared for fleece as the medium for her weaved artwork. Students will see the steps of shearing, carding, spinning, dying before she can to make a beautiful tapestry.

Fiber production, whether from sheep, goats, alpacas, or rabbits, is an important agricultural industry in New York State. The farmers who produce these animals must maintain proper nutrition and management of their flocks to ensure the best quality fleeces and end-result products. Fiber animals are often used as multi-purpose animals and also raised for their meat and milk. Agriculture is not always what we eat, but also what we wear. All lesson, activities, learning extensions, and companion resources are aligned to New York State and Common Core Learning Standards.

2015 Teacher Resource Guide

  • Educator Resource Guide
    This comprehensive guide for educators will give you access to the felted marble lesson plan, Common Core Learning Standard alignment, domain connections, vocabulary, learning extensions, and more.
  • Clothes on the Grow
    Students will gain a broad understanding of the types and sources of different fibers, examining their origins and observing their differences. Activities in this lesson include examining clothing and clothing labels and observing how different types of fabrics burn.
  • Spinning and Dyeing Wool Activity Instructions
    Also from Utah Agriculture in the Classroom, try these wool based hand-spinning and Kool-Aid dyeing experiential learning activities with your students. Also see the video tutorial for the hand-spinning, illustrating the ease of creating yarn with your students.
  • From Fiber to Fashion Lesson
    Use this NYS & Common Core aligned lesson to study clothing labels, research fabric production, and evaluate consumer options for their clothing.
  • Kool-Aid Dyeing Kits and More
    Again this year the New York News Publishers Association has developed excellent resources to accompany Agricultural Literacy Week. Please check out their farmer profiles, information sheets on animal fiber, crossword puzzles, and information about purchasing a Kool-Aid Dyeing kit for your classroom.
  • In-Touch Science: Fibers and Animals
    A hands-on science program developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension for students in grades 2-5. This resource helps students communicate and observe how one science concept relates to both textile science and animal science. It encourages youth to be curious about their everyday encounters with fiber products and animals.
  • Fiber Science and Technology
    Activities based on fibers and textiles provide a familiar, relevant, and fun way to learn science and technology.
  • Year In A Flock
    A video created by Saratoga County 4-H members explains the uses, history, and importance of the fiber industry from lambing to shearing and all of the steps in between.

ALW 2014 - Nutrition and Knowing Your Farmer

Who Grew My Soup?

written by Tom Darbyshire and C.F. Payne

Who Grew My Soup? Videos & Teacher Resources

Who Grew My Soup?The signature book for 2014 is Who Grew My Soup? written by Tom Darbyshire and illustrated by C.F. Payne. In this delightful book, Phineas Quinn questions the vegetable soup his mom serves for lunch. He refuses to slurp a single spoonful until he knows who grew each of the vegetables. Much to his surprise, a man in a flying tomato balloon shows up to answer his questions. Phinneas joins the magical Mr. Mattoo as they fly from farm to farm, learning about the amazing vegetables, and meeting the farmers who grow them.

Who Grew My Soup? as the Agricultural Literacy Week book for 2014 will allow students an opportunity to meet and connect students to the farmers in their backyard. As the nation's conversation is focused on healthy living and eating nutritious foods, it is the perfect time to help our students build the knowledge that nutrition starts on the farm. After listening to the story, the students will participate in an activity featuring MyPlate, eating at least 5 servings of vegetables, and introducing actual farmers that grow their favorite vegetables. All lessons, activities, and extensions are aligned to New York State and Common Core Learning Standards.


ALW 2013 - Bees and Pollination

The Beeman The Beeman

written by Laurie Krebs

The Honeybee Man

written by Lela Nargi


2013 Teacher Resource Guide

Sponsors: Farm Credit East AgEnhancement Grant

ALW 2012 — Plants

Seed, Soil, Sun

Seed, Soil, Sun

written by Cris Peterson

2012 Teacher Resource Guide

The Northeast Foundation for Agriculture Education

ALW 2011 Final Report


ALW 2011 — Chickens

Chicks & Chickens

Chicks & Chickens

written by Gail Gibbons

2011 Teacher Resource Guide

The Northeast Foundation for Agriculture Education

ALW 2011 Final Report


ALW 2010 — Timber

The Tree Farmer

The Tree Farmer

written by Chuck Leavell & Nicholas Cravotta

2010 Teacher Resource Guide

NY Tree Farm Association
The Northeast Foundation for Agriculture Education


ALW 2009 — Apples

The Empire State Investigator: The Applesauce Bandit

The Empire State Investigator: The Applesauce Bandit

written by Juleah Tolosky & Heather Davis

2009 Teacher Resource Guide

Agway Foundation
NY Apple Association


ALW 2008 — Maple Syrup

Sugarbush Spring

Sugarbush Spring

written by Marsha Wilson Chall

Lesson Plan: Exploring Maple Syrup

Agway Foundation
The NYS Maple Producers Association


ALW 2007 — Vegetable and Flower Production

Lily's Garden

Lily's Garden

written by Deborah Kogan Ray

Lesson Plan: Planting Marigold Seeds

Agway Foundation
Jiffy Products
Harris Seed Company
Ferry-Morse Seed Company


ALW 2006 — The Dairy Industry

Extra Cheese, Please

Extra Cheese, Please

written by Cris Peterson

Agway Foundation