Learn About Ag... California Specialty Crops

Specialty crops are fruits and tree nuts, vegetables, herbs and spices, nursery, floriculture, and horticulture crops. They're the commodities that are not considered staple foods. California produces more than 400 different commodities, many of which are specialty crops. They're all around us!

From Start to Finish – Producing, Preparing, and Preserving California Specialty Crops in the Classroom

This unit contains three lessons for grades five through eight designed to teach students about producing, preparing, and preserving California agricultural commodities, while fostering an appreciation for how fruits and vegetables "start" in the field and "finish" at the table. Lessons include inquiry-based, real life challenges that engage students in a meaningful way as they discover the story behind how their food is produced.

The lessons within the teacher guide can be used separately or together and may be taught in any order.

  • In lesson 1, Get Growing, students will use engineering design principles to solve a realistic planting challenge. The lesson includes related multi-step math problems that farmers face daily.
  • In lesson 2, Tasty Testing, students will use map skills to discover the geographic regions where basil, oregano, and cilantro have cultural significance. An herb observation and taste test will challenge students to use their senses when comparing common herbs.
  • In lesson 3, Preserving the Powerful Pepper, students will investigate how probiotics play a part in preservation and students will create their own probiotic food.

Three fact and activity sheets are included in the unit: Green (Snap) Beans, Herbs, and Bell Peppers. The fact sheets include information about commodity production, history, nutrition, top producing counties, and economic values. The fact and activity sheets provide specific lesson ideas and fun facts for each commodity.

To extend the lessons, student workbooks with independent reading and activities are available. Videos featuring California farmers demonstrating how bell peppers, green beans, and herbs are produced, preserved, and prepared are linked below. All lessons and activities are aligned to the current California Education Standards, including Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.

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Supplemental Lesson Videos

Fact Sheets

Teacher Implementation Videos

What's Growin' On?: CA Crop Talk - Specialty Crops Edition

What's Growin' On?

This 16-page newspaper highlights the many agricultural products of California. Activities, trivia, readings, and graphics are sprinkled throughout providing a connection for every learner. Many activites are aligned to the Content Standards for California Public Schools.

What's Growin' On?: Extra! Extra! Classroom Extensions

Extra! Extra! Classroom Extensions

This teacher resource offers extensions to activities related to the content of What's Growin' On? newspaper supplement.

Invasive Species Fact Sheet Set

Invasive Species Fact Sheet Set

Get the facts to help prevent the damage caused by invasive species to California's Specialty Crops.

California Specialty Crop Resource Packet

California Specialty Crop Resource Packet

In this guide, you will discover the many ways we use specialty crops and learn how to use them in the classroom to make a lasting connection between our everyday lives and the world of agriculture.

California Grows... Map

California Grows... Map

The California Grows map shows the top three commodities in all of California's counties. Specialty crops in each county are highlighted.

Ag-Bites

Ag-Bites

Ag-Bites are bite-sized activities for bringing agriculture into your classroom. These three Ag-Bite activities feature California specialty crops.

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WE Garden Sheets

We Garden Sheets

The purpose of the WE Garden activity sheets is to educate and inspire Californians about the important lessons gardens teach to students, children and people of all ages—lessons rooted in nutrition, healthy living, agriculture, science, history and service. These five WE Garden activities teach lessons related to California specialty crops.

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This page was brought to you from a Specialty Crop Block Grant offered by California Department of Food and Agriculture.