‘De Agri Cultura’: Agriculture in Ancient Greece

Agriculture was the foundation of the Ancient Greek economy. Nearly 80% of the population was involved in this activity.[1] Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction Most Greek language agricultural texts are lost, except two botany texts by Theophrastus and a poem by Hesiod. The main texts are mostly from the Roman Agronomists: Cato the Elder’s De agri cultura, Columella’s De re rustica, Marcus Terentius Varro and Palladius. Varro mentions[…]

“To the Rescue of the Crops”: The Women’s Land Army during World War II

Throughout the wartime years, the need for workers in agriculture, as well as in manufacturing and the military, was unprecedented. By Dr. Judy Barrett LitoffProfessor of HistoryBryant University By Dr. David C. SmithBird and Bird Professor Emeritus of American HistoryThe University of Maine We’re working for Victory, too; growing food for ourselves and our countrymen.[…]

A Lesson in Resilience from Ancient Dates

How 2,000-year-old date palm seeds were brought back to life, with recipes to make at home. By Yousra Rebbani What does an ancient date taste like? Scientists recently found out. Sarah Sallon, a doctor at the Natural Medicine Research Center in Hadassah, and Elaine Solowey, an expert in arid agriculture, wanted to see if they could[…]

Tobacco and the Colonial American Economy

Tobacco, and the economic system of mercantilism, factored into the grievances of the colonists leading to the American Revolutionary War. Introduction The most important cash crop in Colonial America was tobacco, first cultivated by the English at their Jamestown Colony of Virginia in 1610 CE by the merchant John Rolfe (l. 1585-1622 CE). Tobacco grew[…]

A Brief History of Tobacco in the Americas

Tobacco, along with the “three sisters” (beans, maize, and squash), was among the most significant crops cultivated by Native Americans. Introduction The history of tobacco use in the Americas goes back over 1,000 years when natives of the region chewed or smoked the leaves of the plant now known as Nicotiana rustica (primarily in the[…]

The Walls of Ceide Fields: Stone Age Agriculture in Ireland

The fields cover the remains of hundreds of stone age farms. By Jenny SnookHistorian Overview The Ceide Fields, near Ballycastle, Co. Mayo, on the western coast of Ireland, are recognised as one of the oldest and largest Stone Age farming sites in the world, dating back to c. 3700 BCE. The walls that have been discovered so[…]

The Agricultural Revolution: Positive Progress or Biggest Blunder in History?

A neolithic farm in Scotland that may be the oldest in northern Europe. / Photo by Drewcorser, Wikimedia Commons Twelve thousand years ago everybody lived as hunters and gatherers. But by 5,000 years ago most people lived as farmers. By Dr. Darren Curnoe / 10.18.2017 Associate Professor Biological Anthropology and Archaeological Science UNSW Australia Twelve thousand years ago[…]

Strong Women Did a Lot of Heavy Lifting in Ancient Farming Societies

Early agrarian women—like these murdered in what is now western France some 6500 years ago—may have been critical manual laborers in their societies. Didier Descouens/Wikimedia Commons Prehistoric women shouldered a major share of the hoeing, digging, and hauling in early agricultural societies. By Michael Price / 11.29.2017 Forget about emotional labor. Women living 7000 years ago[…]

Medieval Agricultural Tools

Certain technological developments singlehandedly pushed the growth of population across the whole of the continent. By Dimitris Romeo Havlidis / 03.14.2015 The Importance of Agriculture Even since the dawn of the first human settlements in 5000 BC, agriculture has played a vital role in the development of every civilisation; over 6000 years later, this remains the case[…]

Food in the Roman World

A view of the millstones and oven of a bakery (Pistrinium) in the Roman town of Pompeii which was buried in volcanic ash following the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. The millstones have square sockets in which wooden beams would have been placed and harnessed to mules in order to turn the stones and so grind the grain[…]

Food and Agriculture in Ancient Greece

Olive trees on the Greek island of Anaxos. Cereals / Wikimedia Commons The prosperity of the majority of Greek city-states was based on agriculture and the ability to produce the necessary surplus. By Mark Cartwright / 07.25.2016 Historian The prosperity of the majority of Greek city-states was based on agriculture and the ability to produce the necessary surplus which[…]

Farming Left Us Better Fed but Not Necessarily Better Led – How Despots Arose with Agriculture

Give a man a ploughshare, and he’ll turn it into a sword. Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH An elite class began to monopolise resources and were able to command the labour of others to do things. By Dr. Simon Powers / 08.06.2014 Postdoctoral Researcher Université de Lausanne For hundreds of thousands of years humans lived in hunter-gatherer societies,[…]

Mass Grave Reveals Organized Violence among Europe’s First Farmers

The owner of this skull had a nasty run in with an axe. Christian Meyer These massacres entail killing on a relative scale seen today only in the most war-torn countries. By Dr. Rick Schulting / 08.07.2015 Lecturer in Scientific and Prehistoric Archaeology University of Oxford The discovery of 26 bodies with lethal injuries in a 7,000[…]

Neolithic Bling Provides Clues to Spread of Farming in Europe

The decoration of choice by Europe’s farming-friendly forefathers. Solange Rigaud, Author provided Studying beads, shells and animal teeth – ornaments which carried deep cultural meaning to prehistoric man – reveals that northern Europeans resisted the spread of agriculture for centuries. By Dr. Solange Rigaud / 04.09.2015 Researcher at the Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences New York University[…]

Families on the Farm in the 19th Century

Photograph originally published in Horace Edward Stockbridge’s Land Teaching (Southern Ruralist Company, 1910). / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. John Buescher Historian Children today may be struck by ways in which their own lives contrast with those of farm children’s in earlier times. One difference is the extent to which girls and boys, from a very[…]

Going to Ground: How Used Coffee Beans Can Help Your Garden and Your Health

Coffee’s usefulness doesn’t have to end here. Yanadhorn/Shutterstock.com Plenty of cafes these days will let you take home some used coffee grounds, to put on your garden. It’s a versatile material with loads of potential uses – as long as you treat it properly first. By Dr. Tien Huynh / 01.31.2018 Senior Lecturer in the School of Sciences RMIT University Did you[…]

Where’s that Bean Been? Coffee’s Journey from Crop to Cafe

Beans have travelled a long way to make your cup of coffee. Jack Fussell/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND By Don Brushett / 11.02.2014 Research Associate Southern Cross University The vast majority of the brewed coffee we drink in Australia comes from the arabica species (Coffea arabica), despite 30% of world coffee production being the “robusta” variety (Coffea canephora). Coffee is[…]

‘The Growroom’: Indoor Growth for Sustainable Urban Living

The Growroom exhibited at Copenhagen Opera House. Photo by Alona Vibe From Space10 / 02.14.2017 Introduction The design for The Growroom, an urban farm pavilion that looks into how cities can feed themselves through food producing architecture, is now open source and available for anyone to use. SPACE10 envision a future, where we grow our own[…]

An Introduction to the Agriculture Economics

Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 02.24.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief The Agriculture Market Landscape Introduction The agricultural market landscape is the economic system that produces, distributes, and consumes agricultural products and services. Agriculture, in many ways, has been the fundamental economic industry throughout history. The production and exchange of food laid the groundwork for all[…]

The Farmers’ Institutes of Minnesota, 1880s-1920s

Farmers’ Institute at Badger, Minnesota, in Roseau County, June 9, 1904 / Minnesota Historical Society By Dr. R.L. Cartwright / 06.27.2013 American Historian In the 1880s, Minnesota farmers saw the need for education but resisted “book farming,” or learning how to farm by reading instructional text. Farmers’ institutes, lecture series that traveled to rural communities[…]

Agricultural Crises in the United States from the Great Depression to 1950

Years of plowing and planting left soil depleted and weak. As a result, clouds of dust fell like brown snow over the Great Plains. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 02.24.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Farmers faced tough times. While most Americans enjoyed relative prosperity for most of the 1920s, the Great Depression for the American[…]

Life Expectancy and the Dawn of Agriculture

Ancient Egyptian plowing farmer scene from the burial chamber of Sennedjem / The Yorck Project via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Jason Collins / 10.21.2013 Evolutionary Biologist Relative to their hunter-gatherer counterparts, early Neolithic farmers were short, had poor dental health due to malnutrition, bone lesions suggestive of disease and stunted spines from the back-breaking labour. This comparison[…]

Ancient Agricultural Trade and Changing Crop Seasons

Barley continues to be the staple diet of people living in this Dolpo Valley of Nepal, a harsh environment at 13,000 feet above sea level. Research suggests that ancient barley cultivation moved into China after being farmed in high altitude regions such as this along the southern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)[…]

Mixed Ancestry between Ancient European Farmers and Foragers

Tiny samples taken from ancient European skulls, in a process shown here, yielded enough DNA for researchers to determine that farmers and foragers interbred in three different regions from 8,000 to nearly 4,000 years ago. Genetic evidence shows interbreeding after agriculture arrived from what’s now Turkey. By Bruce Bower / 11.10.2017 Thousands of years ago,[…]

This Isn’t Just Another Urban Farm—It’s a Food Bank

Former farm staff, Zotero Citlacoatl, and Las Milpitas volunteers in the greenhouse, learning about heritage fruit tree propagation. The fig and pomegranate tree cuttings pictured grew out over the spring and were given to program participants and community partners. / Photo © Groundwork Promotions The Tucson, Arizona, food bank isn’t just giving away packaged foods. It’s[…]

The Future of Vertical Farms

By Cory Doctorow / 01.05.2017 There’s really nothing not to love about vertical farms — multi-story hydroponic operations, usually sited in dense urban areas — they borrow their best tech from the space program, they’re water-conserving, they don’t have runoff, they’re energy efficient, and they’re super land-efficient, meaning we don’t need to turn forests or[…]