Monday, February 9, 2009

Farmer George Plants a Nation

Written by Peggy Thomas
Illustrated by Layne Johnson
Most enjoyed by 3rd through 8th graders

When we think of George Washington, we usually remember him as a general and president, one of the Founding Fathers of America. But if you asked George himself, he quite possibly would have said he was a farmer first. A very clever and innovative farmer as well.
In 'Farmer George Plants a Nation', author Peggy Thomas gives us the farmer side of George. Inheriting Mount Vernon from his older brother, George improved estate, expanding it from 2,000 to 8,000 acres. He eventually owned 5 farms. Tobacco, which was a money-making crop for farmers at that time, was also very demanding of the soil it grew in. George slowly replaced his tobacco crops with wheat. He also practiced crop rotation, a novel idea at the time, experimented with different types of fertilizers, and created an early type of planter that saved the work of many slaves. George shared everything he learned as a farmer with others around him, hoping that with good stewardship of the land, America would become a world leader in farming.
Woven into the story of George as farmer are the aspects of his life we know so well: his time as a Revolutionary Army general and his presidency. Even during eight years as general and eight years as president, George thought about the farm he loved so much. The illustrations, created by Layne Johnson, portray the farming landscape beautifully.

As George's birthday approaches, take the time to read 'Farmer George Plants a Nation'. Then, instead of cake and ice cream to celebrate, plant some seeds in George's honor. He'd be proud!

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