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American History Glossary
Clickable map of the 13 Colonies with descriptions of each colony
Daily Life in the 13 Colonies
The First European Settlements in America
Colonial Times

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Farming in the Thirteen American Colonies

Farming in colonial differed in many ways from farming today. The most significant difference was in what crops were grown where.
  • Farmers in the New England Colonies had a rough time of it. Much of the soil wasn't good for growing crops, especially near the ocean. Also, the early and long-lasting winters killed many crops quickly. Still, New England farmers often grew enough food to feed their families and maybe even help feed other families. The main kind of food New Englanders contributed to the economy was fish.
  • Farmers in the Middle Colonies were the most prosperious of all. They grew wheat, barley, oats, rye, and corn. The Middle Colonies were often called the "breadbasket" because they grew so much food. Wheat could be ground to make flour, and both wheat and flour could be sold in other colonies or in Europe.
  • Farmers in the Southern Colonies grew several things. The most popular crop was tobacco. The Jamestown colonists had grown tobacco originally, and tobacco farms sprung up all over Virginia and North Carolina. The two southernmost states (South Carolina and Georgia) also grew indigo and rice.

Farm equipment was also different. Colonial farmers didn't have the large machines that today's farmers have and so had to rely on manpower and animalpower.

More on Life in the 13 Colonies
Church
School
Farm
Park
Food

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