When looking at this chart, consider the following questions:
- How many times did Washington grow grass? How does this compare to when he grew wheat?
- Why would Washington do a crop rotation?
- How many different crops did Washington grow? How many years does this crop rotation chart record?
- What do you think these crops were used for?
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This is a survey that George Washington created of his land at Ferry Plantation in 1787. Along with a map of the land, the survey also includes two crop rotation tables that plan out what will grow in each field for the next ten years.
George Washington devoted his life to the improvement of American agriculture. While his initial interest in farming was driven by his own needs to earn a living and improve Mount Vernon, in later years Washington realized his leadership and experimentation could assist all American farmers. Initially growing tobacco as his cash crop, Washington soon realized that tobacco was not sustainable and he switched to grains, particularly wheat as a cash crop in 1766. Washington read the latest works on agriculture and implemented the new husbandry methods using a variety of fertilization methods and crop rotation plans on his five farms. The majority of enslaved people at Mount Vernon were assigned to complete this agricultural work. Under the supervision of overseers, field hands toiled from sunrise to sunset, which could mean 14-hour days in the summer.