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How did people plant and harvest wheat at Mount Vernon?

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Planting Wheat

George Washington decided to plant wheat on two of his seven large crop fields. Enslaved people who lived and worked at Mount Vernon did the planting.

They used horses or oxen and a plow like this one to make the fields ready.


What Do You Think?

This is a plow like the ones used at Mount Vernon. Which part goes through the dirt? What happens to the dirt?

Plowing the Field

Watch the video to see horses plow a field like they would have in George Washington's time. The video is from Mount Vernon today.

Growing and Harvesting Wheat

When the plowing was finished, enslaved field workers walked down the rows of the field. They scattered wheat seeds and covered them with dirt. The wheat was planted in the fall. It was ready to harvest by the middle of the next summer.

To harvest the wheat, enslaved workers often used a tool called a sickle. One person walked down a row, bending over to cut the wheat close to the ground. Another person followed behind, picking up the cut wheat and tying it into bundles. The bundles of cut wheat, called sheaves, were stacked together.

Scattering the wheat seeds

Wheat growing but not yet ripe

Harvesting the ripe wheat

Sheaves of wheat

Tools of the Time

Look at this illustration from the late 1700s. The tools are similar to the ones used in the fields at Mount Vernon. Find the sickle.


What Do You Think?

How might other people use the other tools? What other questions can you ask about the picture?

What did you find out?

How did people plant and harvest wheat at Mount Vernon? Download worksheet

Think about what you read and watched. Look back if you need to. Then write about planting or harvesting at Mount Vernon. What was the most interesting thing you learned? Write your sentences in your worksheet.

Think about what you have learned. How does it connect to the Essential Question, How did George Washington grow and use wheat at Mount Vernon?

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Focus Question 2

What happened to the wheat after it was harvested?

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Focus Question 3

What happened to the wheat berries after they were gathered in the barn?

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