The skilled and manual labor needed to run Mount Vernon was largely provided by slaves
First settlers arrived in Virginia in 1607. They grew tobacco as their cash crop. American farmers grew tobacco for profit. The average farmer owned between 100 and 300 acres of land. The owning a lot of land was important because land stood for wealth and power.
For many years, tobacco was George Washington’s main crop. However, tobacco was labor intensive to produce and quickly depleted the soil of valuable nutrients. The field then had to lay empty for an estimated 20 years to regain the nutrients necessary to support agriculture. Washington felt this was a wasteful approach to farming. In the mid-1760s, Washington began to experiment with growing wheat. Although he continued to grow some tobacco, by the early 1770s, wheat had become Washington’s primary cash crop.
Cradlers cut the wheat in the field. Rakers gathered the cut wheat. Shockers tied the wheat into bundles. Conners stacked the bundles before it was carted to a barn.
What are some examples of Washington’s innovative farming practices? Why did Washington change his cash crop from tobacco to wheat? Explain how the 16 sided barn changed the treading process. What did you learn about George Washington and farming that you’d like to research further?