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George Washington the Farmer

George Washington studied and implemented improved farming methods throughout his life. In fact, he thought of himself first as a farmer.

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.

George Washington and Agriculture

George Washington took an early interest in husbandry and agricultural improvement. Learn more about Washington’s desire to improve the state of American agriculture through careful experimentation.

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Field Labor

The majority of enslaved people at Mount Vernon were assigned to agricultural work on the plantation’s four outlying farms. Under the supervision of overseers, field hands toiled from sunrise to sunset, which could mean 14-hour days in the summer.

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Did George Washington Grow Hemp?

Dean Norton, Director of Horticulture uncovers the truth about George Washington and hemp.

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A Day in the Life of an Enslaved Field Worker

"Every Labourer (male or female) does as much in the 24 hours as their strength without endangering the health, or constitution will allow of." - George Washington, 1789

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Dairies at Mount Vernon

Learn about the history of dairying at Mount Vernon and Washington's desire to set an example for his countrymen.

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Washington shifted from tobacco to wheat in the 1760s. 

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Maximizing Value and Efficiency

A series of savvy decisions kept Washington on the forefront of the American agricultural industry.

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Dogue Run Farm

Learn how George Washington worked to develop the Dogue Run Farm - one of the five farms at Mount Vernon - into one of his most productive fields.

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16-Sided Barn
16-Sided Barn

16-Sided Barn

Learn more about Washington’s remarkable and innovative 16-sided treading barn located on his Dogue Run farm.

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Map: Extent of Washington's 1793 Mount Vernon Land Holdings

This map shows the historic boundaries of George Washington's five farms at Mount Vernon superimposed over today's modern landscape. Much of this once-rural landscape remains free from development today.

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Washington's Crops

Even wonder what crops were grown at Mount Vernon? 

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Washington as Bookkeeper

George Washington personally kept fastidious financial records throughout his life, an impressive feat considering the size of his business enterprise.

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Re-creating a Washington Farming Experiment

Mount Vernon staff get their hands dirty testing different soil mixtures—just as Washington did in 1760.

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The Maharajah of Mules

Why does Rinker Buck, bestselling author of The Oregon Trail, call George Washington the "Maharajah of Mules?"  Find out in this interesting interview.

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