Potatoes and Peanuts: Reaching and Teaching Farmers

Although remembered as the “father of the Morris Canal”, George Macculloch (1775-1858) should also be remembered for his interest in helping his fellow Morris County farmers. Macculloch was the first president of the Morris County Agricultural Society. Through this organization, improvements in farming, like better better equipment and techniques, were shared with the community. George’s garden journal, which he kept from 1829-1856, included notes on how to improve his own land for the next growing season and even clippings from newspapers. In 1849 he pinned a clipping in his journal that discussed a cure for potato disease, which was first discovered in Europe. For George, it was not enough that he improved farming on his own land, he wanted to help others who farmed their land too.

In a similar way, George Washington Carver (1864-1943) dedicated his life to helping farmers. He was the first Black student to attend Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) and taught agriculture at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Tuskegee, Alabama for 47 years. He was known to travel in the Jesup Wagon, a movable school that he used to educate people on how to improve their farms. He taught the importance of rotating crops and explained that planting soybeans, peanuts and sweet potatoes helped put nitrogen back in the soil, which was depleted from growing cotton. Through his research, he invented over 300 different products made from peanuts, which earned him the nickname, “the peanut man”. Dr. Carver was so much more than that.

George Macculloch and George Washington Carver represent two generations of innovators who were advocates for farmer education.

“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books . . . ”

― George Washington Carver, George Washington Carver in His Own Words


Learn more about Dr. George Washington Carver in Peggy Thomas’ George Washington Carver for Kids: His Life and Discoveries with 21 Activities.

Learn about Dr. Carver’s legacy at Tuskegee University.

George Washington Carver

Topic: Citizen Science
Age / Level: Elementary, Middle

Potatoes and Peanuts: Reaching and Teaching Farmers Photo Gallery

George Washington Carver Portrait of George Perrot Macculloch

Potatoes and Peanuts: Reaching and Teaching Farmers Videos