An Agricultural Economy

Many of the people that lived in Colonial America worked on a farm, and many of the people during this time owned large plantations.

These plantations were a place where owners could grow crops and make cash by selling them.


The farmer during Colonial America times was a very hard worker. These farmers were required to work all year long to make enough money and food just to survive.

Life of a Farmer

A farmer of the Colonial times would wake up before the sun even came out to begin to work. A farmer had to work during the daylight to make sure that they got all of their work done.

Most of the time, the wife would make breakfast very early in the morning, and the farmer and his children would work from right after breakfast until the sun went down.


Depending on the season would depend on the work that the farmers did. During the fall and summer, the farmer would work to make sure that they had the ground plowed and that the soil was ready to plan. They would use animals to get the land prepared.

During the springtime, the seeds would need planting, and the farmers would use oxen, horses, and cattle to work and till the ground. They would have animals that would pull the plow so that the earth could be ready to harvest.

The field would be taken care of, and the farmer would always make sure that the ground was ready to be planted.

When it was time to pick the harvest, the farmer and his helpers would work all hours of the day to choose and prepare the food to be sold.

The rest of the year, the farmer would make sure the farm was in order and that things were fixed and up to date.

If the fences needed fixed or built, the farmer would do this, and he would also make sure that the house was in good shape and that things around the farm were in tip-top shape.

The farmer was in charge of taking care of the livestock on the farm and making sure animals were fed and looked after.

Women on the Farm

Women on the farm also worked hard. They worked hard to make sure that the farmer was taken care of by making sure that he and his family got to eat.

The women would prepare food and cook the food to make sure that there was a good meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The women would sew clothing and make things such as curtains, candles, bedding, and whatever they needed around the house.

The women worked outside and would help to take care of the garden and prepare food that was picked so that it could be sold and traded.

Women were also required to take care of the home and the family.

Children on the Farm

Children that lived on farms were also known to work during Colonial times. The boys would go out into the field and would help their father to take care of the garden and the field. They learned from a young age how to take care of the animals and how to grow and harvest food.

The girls would also work hard, but they would usually help their mother. The mother would teach them to sew at a very young age and how to take care of the family. These girls would have skills for later in life when they had their own families.

Slaves on the Farm

There were many people that did not own slaves during Colonial America, but during the 1700s, there were slaves that began to work on the plantation.

The slaves were usually only owned by the wealthy farmers, and the small farmers could not afford to own slaves and did most of the work themselves.


The farmers would grow a variety of crops and what crops were grown depended on where the farmer lived. Most of the farmers would grow tobacco, wheat, barley, oats, rice, corn, vegetables, and more.

The farmers also had many different kinds of livestock, such as chicken, cows, pigs, ducks, geese, and more. They would raise these animals for food and pets.

Facts About an 1800’s Agricultural Economy:

• Many of the farmers lived in a two-room house because they were poor.
• Horses were used for transportation and for working on the field.
• Most farmers did not own a horse because they were expensive to own.
• Farmers did not work on Sunday, and this was the day that the families went to church.
• Most farmers had large families of around six or more children.
• The children on the farm usually worked on the farm and were taught school at home.

What Did You Learn?

What was the agricultural economy like during Colonial America?
During Colonial America, most people owned a farm to make a living and feed their families.

Were all farms large?
No. Some rich people had large plantations, and other people had small farms.

What did the farmers do with the food that they grew?
The farmers would use the food to feed their families and to sell and trade for money.

Did farmers work hard?
Yes. Farmers during Colonial America worked very hard.

Who else worked on the farm?
Children, wives, and even slaves helped work on the farm.