National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
The TART Cherry on Top
3 - 5
Three 45-minute activities
Students will explore tart cherry production in the United States and explain why producers and consumers are needed in the cherry industry.
Interest Approach — Engagement:
- How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. by Marjorie Priceman
- Cherry Trees to Cherry Treats handout, 1 per student pair
- Scissors, 1 per student pair
- Tart Cherry Harvest and Processing in Utah video
- Blank sheet of paper, 1 per student pair
- Whiteboard, poster, or large butcher paper
- Blank sheet of paper, 1 per student
- Crayons, markers, and colored pencils
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
consumer: a person who purchases goods and services for personal use
farm to fork: the various processes in the food chain from agricultural production to consumption
producer: a person or company that makes, grows, or supplies goods or services
superfood: a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Tart cherries are better than sweet cherries for recipes that require baking. That’s because tart cherries are more acidic; sweet cherries lose their flavor and shape when baked.1
- Research has shown that Montmorency cherries (and other tart cherries) help recovering muscles and arthritis pain, aid in heart health, and improve sleep quality.1
- You won’t find many fresh tart cherries in the grocery store; they are typically dried, frozen, or juiced. Tart cherries are most commonly used for baking, canning, drying, juicing, and jamming.2
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Read the book How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A.
- Lead a discussion about the book with students. Point out that the story spends a significant amount of time talking about all of the tools needed to make a cherry pie, but not much time talking about the ingredients needed. Ask the students, "What ingredients are needed to make a cherry pie?"
- Explain to students that they are going to learn more about the most important ingredient in a cherry pie—cherries!
Activity 1: Cherry Trees to Cherry Treats
- Divide the students into pairs.
- Pass out the Cherry Trees to Cherry Treats handout (timeline, processing steps, and photos) to each pair.
- Ask students to cut out each of the steps in individual squares, as well as the photos. Leave the timeline with numbers intact.
- Instruct students to read through each of the cherry processing steps and match the correct photo with each step.
- Ask students to place each step and photo on the correct timeline number, indicating the order they think dried, tart cherries are processed. Allow students to discuss ideas with their partner and problem-solve. Consider asking the following questions to guide students as they guess the correct order.
- Would you remove the pits of the cherries before or after you freeze the cherries? Why or why not?
- Would chilling cherries in cold water come before or after the drying process?
- Why would you want firm cherries before removing the pits?
- Explain to the students that Michigan, Utah, and Washington are the top three states that produce tart cherries. Take a virtual field trip to a tart cherry orchard by viewing the video Tart Cherry Harvesting and Processing in Utah. As the video plays, have students follow along and correct their timelines, if needed.
- Step 1: The cherries are harvested by shaking the trees and collecting the fallen cherries. Harvesting starts in mid-July and lasts for about three weeks.
- Step 2: The cherries are delivered to a processing plant.
- Step 3: The cherries are chilled in cold water. This helps the cherries stay cool and firm.
- Step 4: The cherries are sorted on a conveyor belt.
- Step 5: The pits of the cherries are removed.
- Step 6: The cherries are placed into buckets. 25 pounds of cherries and 5 pounds of sugar.
- Step 7: The cherries are frozen until needed.
- Step 8: The cherries are dried.
- Step 9: The cherries are packaged.
- Step 10: The dried cherries are used in cakes, cookies, snacks, trail mixes, and salads.
- Consider bringing dried tart cherries to class to show students.
Activity 2: Cherry Career Clusters
- Explain to students that when tart cherries aren't dried, they can also be used for baking and cooking. This includes cherry pie fillings, cherry jams, frozen cherries, and even unique recipes such as cherry salsa.
- Ask students to brainstorm every person and career that helps produce and process tart cherry products.
- Pass out a blank piece of paper to each student.
- Instruct students to create a web or cluster with "tart cherries" written in the middle circle of the cluster. Individually, or in pairs, have students brainstorm all the careers that help get cherries from the farm to the table. Encourage students to think of every detail when it comes to farming, growing fruit, trucking, processing, packaging, marketing, etc. Refer to the Background Agricultural Connections section, if needed.
- Consider asking the following questions to guide students and promote critical thinking.
- Who helps the farmers when they need money to buy equipment?
- How do the cherries get put in packages or jars?
- Who designed the labels on the jars?
- How do cherries get from the farm to the processing plant or grocery store?
- Ask students to share their career clusters with the rest of the class.
- Draw one large tart cherry circle on the whiteboard and have each student add one circle/career. The goal is to have students create one large career cluster as a class that showcases a wide variety of jobs and careers.
- Discuss the different careers in a community that benefit the tart cherry industry.
- Ask students what the difference is between a producer and consumer as you study the career cluster on the whiteboard.
- Explain that producers make, grow, or supply goods and services. Consumers purchase those goods and services. (Students might also associate consuming with eating.)
- Ask students to identify the producers and consumers in the career cluster on the whiteboard. Ask students to put a star by all the producers and an arrow by all the consumers. Consider asking the following questions about specific careers on the whiteboard:
- Can someone be a producer and a consumer?
- Who is the consumer of ________'s services?
- How is the cherry farmer a producer and a consumer?
- What services will the _______ produce?
- Explain to students that industries, like the cherry industry, rely on producers and consumers working together in order to be successful.
Activity 3: Cherry Marketing
- Refer back to the agricultural careers discussed in Activity 2 with your students. Ask your students to brainstorm tasks involved in the marketing and advertising of a product. If it's not on your students' career cluster, take time to add it to the cluster on the whiteboard. Consider asking the following questions:
- If you're trying to sell a product, what kind of information would you want to include on a flyer or advertisement?
- What catches your attention with flyers and advertisements?
- Ask students to imagine they own a tart cherry farm. Their job is to design a flyer advertising their tart cherries that can be hung up around the community. Students' flyers should include the following components:
- Tart cherry business name
- Pictures of tart cherries
- A list of cherry products the company sells
- Encourage creativity and remind students to think back to the discussion about what makes a successful advertisement. Allow students to share their advertisements with the rest of the class.
- Have students vote for the top cherry advertisement in the class, if desired.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- Sweet cherries are typically eaten fresh and tart cherries are used for pies and other baked goods.
- A producer makes, grows, or supplies goods or services and a consumer purchases goods and services.
- Like any agricultural product, tart cherry production requires a variety of careers to grow, harvest, and market the products.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Use the following directions to make a cherry pie in a slow cooker.4
- Spray a slow cooker with a non-stick cooking spray.
- Pour two 21-ounce cans of cherry pie filling into the slow cooker.
- Pour one box of yellow cake mix on top of the cherries (don't mix).
- Drizzle a 1/2 cup of melted butter on top.
- Cook on high for 2-3 hours.
- Serve warm (with ice cream, if desired).
Watch this Q&A video about cherries from Rowley's Red Barn located in Santaquin, Utah. To engage students, pause the video after each question before it is answered and have students guess the correct answer. This can be done as a class discussion or students can write their guesses on a personal whiteboard.
Suggested Companion Resources
- How Many Hats Does a Farmer Wear? (Activity)
- The Very Hungry Western Caterpillar (Activity)
- How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. (Book)
- Producepedia (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Food, Health, and Lifestyle
- Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table (T3.3-5.b)
- Distinguish between processed and unprocessed food (T3.3-5.c)
- Explain the practices of safe food handling preparation, and storage (T3.3-5.e)
- Identify careers in food, nutrition, and health (T3.3-5.f)
Education Content Standards
Economics Standard 2: Decision Making
ObjectiveMake effective decisions as consumers, producers, savers, investors, and citizens.
Economics Standard 7: Markets and Prices
ObjectiveIdentify markets in which they have participated as a buyer and as a seller and describe how the interaction of all buyers and sellers influences prices. Also, predict how prices change when there is either a shortage or surplus of the product available.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Writing: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.