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More Than Just a Strawberry



Students will gain a deeper understanding of economic and health impacts through the lens of a strawberry farmer and apply their understanding to build and plant a strawberry patch.

Subject Area(s)

Reading, Math, Health, Social Studies

Essential Files/Links


Antioxidants: substances that inhibit oxidation in living organisms and removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism.

Cause: part of the cause and effect relationship, where one is the result of the other and the cause is the action.

Commodity: a raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold.

Consumer: a person who purchases goods and services for personal use.

Demand: a consumer’s desire to purchase goods and services and willingness to pay a price for a specific good or service.

Effect: part of the cause and effect relationship, where one is the result of the other and the effect is the reaction.

Farmer’s Market: a food market where local farmers sell fruit, vegetables, and other goods directly to consumers.

Fruit: a fleshy product of a tree or plant containing seeds and can be eaten in some cases.

Food miles: the distance food is transported from the time of its production until it reaches the consumer.

Goods: merchandise or possessions.

Growing: the natural development of a living thing that occurs by increasing size and changing physically.

Harvesting: gathering a crop.

Healthy: promoting good health.

Minerals: solid, inorganic substances of natural occurrence.

Nutrients: substances that provide nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life.

Nutritional value: contents of food and the impact it has on the body.

Packing: action or process of putting things into bags, boxes, or storage.

Producer: a person, company, or country that makes, grows, or supplies goods or commodities for sale.

Product label: any piece of material attached to a product to identify its contents.

Purchasing: acquiring something by buying it or paying for it.

Services: systems supplying public need such as transport, communications, or utilities such as electricity or water.

Sorting: arranging systematically in groups or to separate according to type, size, class, or shape.

Storing: keeping or accumulating something for future use.

Strawberry: a sweet, soft, red fruit with a seed-studded surface.

Supply: a resource from which a person or place can be provided with the necessary amount of that resource.

Transplanted: having been moved or transferred to another place or situation.

Transporting: taking or carrying from one place to another.

Transit: the carrying of people, goods, or materials from one place to another.

Vitamins: any group of organic compounds, which are essential for normal growth and nutrition.

NC Ag Facts

  • Did you know strawberries can be grown anywhere in North Carolina? In 2019, about 1,100 acres were harvested and planted across all regions of North Carolina including the piedmont, coastal plain, and mountain regions.1
  • Strawberry harvest begins in early-mid April in Eastern North Carolina, early May in the Piedmont, and mid-June in the Mountains.2
  • Strawberries should be picked every other day or about 3 times a week, with the best time to pick in the early morning hours.2
  • North Carolina designated the strawberry as the official red berry of the state in 2001.4
  • North Carolina is the fourth-largest producer of strawberries in the United States.1
  • April signals the start of strawberry season in North Carolina, and in a season with high yields, strawberries will continue to produce through the end of May, until Memorial Day and ends in mid-June in the mountains.1

Background Knowledge

Strawberries are unique! Did you know strawberries are the only fruit that wear seeds on the outside? Most fruits that are categorized as “berries” contain their seeds inside the fruit; however, strawberries are not considered a true berry. Strawberries are a member of the rose family. There are several different fruits and berries that belong to the rose family including raspberries, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears. Strawberry plants are perennials. That means if you plant one it will grow back year after year, but most strawberry farmers do not use this method. Instead they purchase strawberry plugs, which are young, small strawberry plants that are grown and then transplanted in the farmer’s strawberry patch. Strawberries are also the first fruit to ripen in the spring, and no other small fruit produces berries as soon after planting as strawberry plants.2

Health Benefits

Strawberries have many health benefits. Listed here are a few facts to better understand their health benefits.

  • Strawberries are packed with nutrients! Nutritionists have found strawberries to be an excellent source of vitamin C.2 Levels of vitamin C help protect the human eyes from free radicals in UV rays that can damage the protein of the eye lens.3
  • One serving of fresh strawberries (one cup or about 6-9 berries) has only 50 calories and is a significant source of fiber in the diet.3
  • They are a good source of potassium and manganese.3
  • Strawberries are rich in antioxidant compounds such as anthocyanin, quercetin, resveratrol, and ellagic acid. These compounds found in strawberries help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and hypertension, improve immune systems, and reduce cognitive declines in aging.3 Ellagic acid helps prevent wrinkles and repair skin damage caused by UV rays.
  • Additional benefits of strawberries include healthy support for eyes, brain activity, and prenatal development for expecting mothers.3
  • The polyphenol compounds found in strawberries have been linked to promoting proper brain functionality by protecting the central nervous system against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Dementia.6
  • Strawberries can regulate blood pressure due to their potassium content of 18 milligrams per berry.3

Planting & Caring for Strawberries

In North Carolina, strawberry farmers plant in the fall, around late September through early October, depending on the location. The plants are planted as transplants in rows on raised beds. The raised beds are covered with a special plastic that is typically black in color. This plastic serves as a weed barrier, increases soil warmth through insulation, holds in moisture, and provides a clean surface for strawberries to grow and ripen. Between the rows, rye grass is often planted to prevent soil erosion. Throughout the growing season, farmers watch the weather for rain and extreme temperatures that drop below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower). They irrigate the berries in dry conditions with watering systems, such as sprinklers or drip tape laid beneath the black plastic. Additionally, during winter months, with below freezing temperatures sprinkler systems are used to provide a layer of ice as a barrier for frost protection for the strawberry plants. Strawberries are typically harvested in late April through May, and can continue to June, depending on weather and location.

Did you know that if an average of 25 strawberry plants were planted, these plants and the resulting runner plants would produce 25 quarts of strawberries? Imagine nearly 6 gallons of strawberries produced from 25 plants.If it takes approximately 5 lbs. of strawberries to make a gallon, how many lbs. could a farmer sell from 25 strawberry plants? Answer: 30 lbs.

Student Motivator

Before you begin identify any food allergies among the students. Provide them with a few favorite breakfast and snack foods such as a strawberry pop tart, fruit roll-up, and any other foods with strawberry as an ingredient. Allow students to conduct a taste-testing party. Ask students, “What is your favorite snack food you sampled today? What is the common feature among these different snacks?” Direct student conversations by explaining that the snack foods they sampled contain strawberries to provide a desirable flavor. Ask students the following questions:

  • Have you ever eaten a strawberry?
  • Have you ever picked your own strawberry?
  • Have you ever eaten a strawberry grown in your local county?
  • Have you ever eaten another food that had strawberries in it?

Create a class pictograph, bar graph, or tally chart to display the information. Explain to students the next several days/weeks we are going to be learning more about strawberries and how important they are in our diet and in our community.


Activity 1: Students will understand the significance of state symbols and identify North Carolina’s state red berry.

Standards: 4.H.2.2


  • Whiteboard
  • Pencil/eraser
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Technology (SMART Board/computer/iPad)

Essential Question: Why is the strawberry the state berry for North Carolina?

  1. Bring students together as a whole group in a central area of the room. Say, “Over the next couple of weeks we are going to be looking at a particular agricultural commodity of North Carolina.” Explain to students that a big part of social studies in fourth grade is learning about the history of North Carolina. Say, “This is going to be one part of a larger project you will complete this year.”
  2. Begin the lesson by showing students different agricultural commodities unique to North Carolina.
  1. Draw students’ attention to the state red berry, a strawberry. Show a picture of a strawberry.
  2. Pose the question, “Why is the state red berry of North Carolina a strawberry?” Write the question on a white board or chart paper.
  3. Divide students into small groups (4-5 per group). Each group should have access to a computer/iPad to conduct research on the topic: Why is the state red berry of North Carolina a strawberry?
  4. Students should identify that strawberries are grown across the state of North Carolina. North Carolina ranks as one of the top producing states in the United States for strawberry production. Strawberries produce a good revenue source for the state of North Carolina and were named the state red berry in 2001. Strawberries are a great source of Vitamin C and A, and they provide other health benefits.
  5. Have each group report back to the class reasons they found for North Carolina naming the strawberry as the state’s red berry. During this time, ask students if there are other agricultural commodities grown in the local area, if so what are they? Utilize this discussion to get students thinking about NC commodities and what role farmers play in producing the food and fiber for consumers.

Activity 2: Students will develop an understanding of the journey from field to consumer.

Standards: 4.G.1.1, 4.RI.3, 4.W.2. 4.W.2b, 4.W.2d, 4.W.7


Essential Files/Links:

Essential Question:

  • How do strawberries find their way from the field to grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and other retail venues for consumers to purchase?
  1. Bring students together in a central area of the room.
  2. Begin the lesson by showing students a picture of a strawberry and/or strawberry plant, and ask students a simple question, “What is this?” Students will likely respond with a direct answer: a strawberry. Say to students, “This is a strawberry, but how did it get in our classroom, what do we use it for, and who grows it?”
  3. Introduce students to a book titled PB&J Hooray by Janet Nolan and/or the book From Farm to School – Crops of North Carolina: A Visit to the Strawberry Patch by Heather Barnes and Karen Baltimore (see Essential Files).
  4. Explain to students that these books explain the process of how we get foods we eat. Write the following words on chart paper or a white board: packing, purchasing, transporting, sorting, storing, growing and harvesting (in no particular order).
  5. Say to students, “Turn and talk to your partner, and explain to each other what these words mean and what they have in common.” As students are discussing, circulate the room and ask probing questions to stimulate higher-order thinking questions. Some questions may include: How do people acquire strawberries? How is it possible that we can walk into a store and buy fresh strawberries? How and why are strawberries packaged? What kind of strawberry would you like to purchase? How are strawberries harvested?
  6. Ask students to share aloud some of their discussion, and answers to the questions. Write student responses on the chart paper or whiteboard.
  7. Read aloud the book From Farm to School – Crops of North Carolina: A Visit to the Strawberry Patch by Heather Barnes and Karen Baltimore (see Essential Files).
  8. Bring students back together and ask them to expand on their previous answers and comments to the words written on the chart paper.
  9. Explain to students they will use information they learned about strawberries and complete a flow map, explaining the order from growing to purchasing strawberries. Draw students’ attention back to the book From Farm to School – Crops of North Carolina: A Visit to the Strawberry Patch by Heather Barnes and Karen Baltimore, and explain that students will illustrate and/or write an explanation for each word. They will use each of the following words in their flow map: packing, purchasing, transporting, sorting, storing, growing and harvesting. Students will use the Flow Map (see Essential Files) and Flow Map Rubric (see Essential Files) to complete this activity.
  10. Ask the question, “How do strawberry farmers sell & market their strawberries? Allow students time to discuss, write a response, or turn and talk to a partner to expand on collaborative learning. Allow one to two minutes, then show students the video link below.

See the response from a North Carolina strawberry farmer.” See video clip for response: https://www.ncfarmtoschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Strawberry-Ag-in-the-Classroom-7.mp4

  1. Extension Activity: Reenact and/or watch each step in the flow map. Divide students into 6 groups. Students will rotate through stations learning about each of the different parts of the journey of a strawberry.

a. Harvesting: Focus on how and when harvesting takes place. These are the stages of growing a strawberry.

                        Stages of a Strawberry:

    • Seedling stage – daughter plants are propagated (or root themselves)
    • Growing stage – roots, stem, and leaves begin to develop
    • Flowering stage – blooms and flowers develop
    • Productive stage – crowns and fruits develop
    • Mature stage – daughter plants and runners develop

At the productive stage, strawberry plants are harvested. But knowing when and how to harvest is extremely important to the strawberry grower and also to the consumer.

Watch this video of different ways strawberries are harvested:

Some important information about strawberry harvesting:

    • Harvest frequency and duration depend on weather conditions, cultivars, soil factors, and cultural practices.
    • Strawberries are almost entirely hand-picked.
    • There are usually six to nine pickers for each acre of strawberry plants.

New technologies have been created such as a strawberry picking robot. Watch this video to see how it works:


b. Sorting: Focus on the sorting process taking place in the field. Some important information about strawberry sorting:

    • Most strawberries sold in supermarkets are handpicked, sorted and packaged in the field, with additional quality checks before they go into refrigerated storage. Pickers are trained to pick the fruit at the proper time so they are packaged correctly—not overripe, damaged, or diseased.
    • Activity: To understand the sorting processes provide students with a large box of different manipulatives or shapes. Have students quickly organize and categorize the shapes they pull out of the box, i.e. all red circles go into one box, all blue squares go into another, and all orange hexagons go into a separate box. This is similar to the process that is used when sorting strawberries that have been picked.


c. Packing: Focus on the packing process taking place in the field.

    • Strawberries in supermarkets are generally sold in quart or 1-lb clear plastic lidded containers (known as clamshells).
    • Farmers selling directly to the public in NC use green, quart-sized pulp cups or clamshells. For larger amounts (greater than 4-quarts), they use buckets, baskets or boxes.
    • Activity: Have students create their own strawberry packing crate using recycled materials: construction paper, cardboard, hole puncher, glue, tape, etc. Higher order thinking: Ask students if they could design something better to pack and transport strawberries.


d. Storing: Focus on keeping the temperatures at appropriate ranges to prevent post-harvest disease.

    • Strawberries last longer if they are refrigerated as soon as possible after picking. Farms selling directly to the public prefer to sell fruit the same day as it is picked.
    • Larger growers who wholesale berries always chill their berries. They must follow more complicated refrigeration processes, as it takes special measures to remove “field heat” from large quantities of fruit. Fruit is picked during the early part of the day and moved as quickly as possible to a cooling house. The flats of berries are stacked on pallets and large fans are used to push chilled air through them. This is known as forced air cooling.
    • Once the berries have reached 34 degrees F, they are placed in a refrigerated storage room, where this temperature can be maintained. The humidity must also be monitored and maintained, as the berries can lose moisture under refrigeration.


e. Transporting: Focus on time from field to store (commercial).

    • Strawberries that have been chilled must maintain a cold temperature in transit. They will last longer if this “cold chain” is not broken. Refrigerated trucks are used for this. It can take many days for a strawberry from California to reach a consumer in North Carolina. Some of that time is on the road, but the flats of berries also spend time in grocery chain distribution centers and in the supermarkets’ coolers before placing them on the shelf.
    • Food miles refer to the distance food is transported from the time of its production until it reaches the consumer.
    • Activity: Students will see a Food Miles Calculator. Students will visit this website http://www.foodmiles.com/
    • Strawberries have a short season in North Carolina as well as a short shelf life. They follow many different paths from field to fork. Have students research how we are able to buy “fresh” strawberries in the grocery store year-round. This will lend itself to a discussion on imports and exports and the concept of food miles.


f. Purchasing: Focus on where to purchase and how to choose the best strawberries. Strawberries are available for purchase at local farmer’s markets, roadside stands, pick-your-own farms (PYO), and grocery stores.

Show students a short video about a Trip to the Farmer’s Market

Activity 3: Students will understand the relationship between the producer and consumer, goods and services, and supply and demand.

Standards: 4.E.1.1


  • Technology (SMART Board/computer/iPad)
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Cash register
  • Play money
  • Pencil
  • Paper

Essential Files/Links:

  • Producer & Consumer Clips
  • Goods and Services Matching Game
  • Supply and Demand Sort
  • Economic Causation Game
  • Economic Quiz

Essential Question: Why do farmers consider the relationship between producer and consumer, goods and services, and supply and demand to be important?

  1. Divide students into groups of 3-4. Explain to students they will be moving through rotations to learn about: producers and consumers, supply and demand, and goods and services through interactive play at a farmer’s market or farm stand. Say to students, “Do you think farmers think about all of these economic components (supply and demand, producer and consumer relationships, goods and services, etc.). I wonder how farmers sell a crop such as strawberries.” Allow students to respond to questions or have them jot their thoughts to reflect on at the end of the lesson. Say, “As you move through each station you will learn a bit more about how this process works. Before we begin I want you to watch a short video clip from a North Carolina Strawberry farmer. See if your thoughts resonate with what the farmer is saying. Follow with a short video clip:


  1. Allow students time to reflect on previously obtained knowledge of economics. This is a great time to frontload any information to your students or confer with students for intervention or additional support. Next, allow students to share out their thoughts or group students together to have a collaborative discussion to reflect on their thinking before stations begin. Finish discussion by saying, “This is why we learn about the process of economics and the relationships between producers and consumers. Some of you may one day be a farmer or a producer and understanding the relationships between producers/consumers and supply/demand is very important.”
  2. Ask students to think about how this process works in real life. Say, “Have you ever visited a fruit stand or famer’s market?” Explain to students that some farmers sell their produce to local grocery stores, others sell directly from their farm, and others sell at local farmer’s markets. Say to students, “Some of you will be acting as the producer and consumer.” Show students different pictures as examples of a producer and/or consumer using Producer & Consumer Clips (see Essential Files). Have students guess which is a producer or a consumer or both.
    • Write producer and consumer on chart paper. Explain the role of the producer and consumer to students. Write the definition of each on the chart paper. Now, go back to the Producer & Consumer Clips. Show students pictures again to see if their answers have changed or stayed the same. Ask the students if it’s possible for a strawberry farmer to be a producer and consumer?
  1. Say to students, “There are many options for where to purchase strawberries. Strawberry growers have numerous options for using marketing methods to promote their crop. One important factor for all farmers to consider is supply and demand.”
    • Write supply and demand on the chart paper. Explain to students that the supply and demand relationship is important to farmers (Supply and demand dictate the market price of goods or services, as well as the occurrence of sales. If supply is up, but demand is low the price will be low. If demand is up, but supply is down the price will be high. Farmers have to watch and maintain the markets to ensure the success of their business). Write the definition of each on the chart paper.
  1. Say to students, “To understand the relationship of producers and consumers, and supply and demand, we also have to understand goods and services.”
    • Write goods and services on the chart paper. Explain to students that the relationship between goods and services is also very important to farmers and consumers. Write the definition of each on the chart paper.
  1. Rotations: Explain to students that they will now rotate through three rotations with their group members to learn more about the relationship between the producer and consumer, supply and demand, and goods and services. Set group norms and rotation expectations that are appropriate for the class.
    • Goods and Services: Working collaboratively, students will complete a Goods and Services Matching Game (see Essential Files). Students will identify that goods are tangible items used daily and services are acts that we pay for.
    • Producer and Consumer: Working collaboratively, students will act in the role of the producer and the consumer. Students will create a storefront and sell something to someone in their group. Additional supplies such as a play cash register and play money could be helpful in supporting student learning. The remaining student(s) acting as the consumer will purchase or show interest in buying the item. If time permits, students will switch and act both as the producer and consumer.
    • Supply and Demand: Working collaboratively, students will complete a Supply and Demand Sort (see Essential Files). Students will identify that supply is how much or how little of a good is available and demand is how badly the item is needed by the consumer.
  1. After each rotation station, students will play the Economic Causation Game (see Essential Files). Students will use economic causation cards as a support tool to study prior to their quiz.
  2. Students will return to their seats and complete an Economic Quiz (see Essential Files).

Activity 4: Students will understand how foods provide energy, vitamins, and minerals that support growth for healthy bodies.

Standards: 4.L.2, 4.L.2.1, 4.L.2.2, 4.RI.7, 4.NPA.1


  • White board
  • Markers
  • Technology (SMART Board/computer/iPad)
  • Measuring cup
  • Product food labels
  • Pencil
  • Plain copy paper

Essential Files/Links:

Essential Question: Are strawberries a healthy snack?

  1. Begin by asking students, “Can you name the five major food groups?” Students should identify: meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, and grains.
  2. Share MyPlate with students: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/
  3. Go through and investigate the website; be sure to look at the different food groups. Specifically, draw attention toruit group. Show students the daily recommended value of fruit for 4-8 and 9-13-year-olds which is about 1½ cups a day.
  4. Introduce strawberries as a great choice for a healthy snack and to use in meals. Say, “Did you know strawberries have tons of amazing vitamins and nutrients that are great for us?”
  5. Show students book, From Farm to School – Crops of North Carolina: A Visit to a Strawberry Patch by Heather Barnes and Karen Baltimore.
  6. Read page 27, and draw students’ attention to the sentence, “Strawberries are packed with Vitamin C and potassium.” Ask, “What is Vitamin C and potassium?”

  1. Research Project: Students will research the following:
    • What vitamins and minerals are found in strawberries?
    • What are antioxidants? Explain antioxidants benefits to the human body.
    • What are nutrients?
  1. Once students have had time to research health information pertaining to strawberries, divide students into groups. Before beginning, explain to students by saying, “Today, you are going to learn how to correctly read a product label (nutrition label) and compare healthy and non-healthy food choices.”
  2. Model by showing students the nutrition label for fresh strawberries and frozen strawberries. See Link: Frozen Fruit, sliced strawberries https://smartlabel.labelinsight.com/product/4499106/nutrition

Before beginning the lesson, ask students, “Is there a difference in fresh and frozen strawberries?” We read food labels to help understand simple questions like this. Go through and identify each area of the food label with students. Answer the questions pertaining to food nutrition.

  1. Provide each group with a strawberry or strawberry flavored product or product label. Use a Strawberry Product Nutrition Facts Label (see Essential Files) as an option for labels. Any product or product label containing strawberries will do: candy, juices, fruit chews, smoothies, yogurt, milk, etc.
  2. Students will examine the product label given to their group. Students will classify the product as healthy or not healthy and record their thoughts on a Strawberry Product Nutrition Facts Label Recording Sheet (see Essential Files).
  3. Then, have students examine the food labels of the strawberry products for nutrients.
    • What is the nutritional value of these items?
    • Do they actually contain strawberries?
    • Do they contain a strawberry flavoring?
  1. Have students create a chart comparing the calories, sugars, fats, sodium, and Vitamin C in each of the strawberry products. This can be done by drawing a graph on chart paper or entering information into an excel document.
  2. After students have examined their food label, come together as a whole group. Have students compare and contrast the information they learned about strawberry products. Students should identify the information about added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and no strawberries contained in the products.
  3. Have students compare and contrast their product food label to one for fresh strawberries. Have students draw a conclusion as to why the nutritional values vary greatly. They should respond with obvious observations from the food label such as added sugars or no strawberries are actually in the product.

Activity 5: Students will distinguish between the cause and effect of different situations with growing strawberry plants.

Standards: 4.RI.5


  • White board
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Technology (SMART Board/computer/iPad)

Essential Files/Links:

Essential Question: Why do farmers use black plastic for growing strawberries?

  1. Explain to students that an effect is what happens and a cause is why it happens. Give students an example of a cause and effect relationship. For example: it is raining (cause) and the ground is wet (effect) or deer can cause extensive damage by trampling and eating the strawberry plants, reducing the effect of the farmer’s income. Have students brainstorm other cause and effect relationships. Have students identify the cause and the effect. It may be helpful to write students’ statements on the white board or chart paper. Have students come up and underline the cause using a red marker and the effect with a blue marker.
  2. Technology integration: You could have students enter a cause and effect statement in Jamboard (through Google Suite) or Padlet (see link: https://padlet.com/). Once students have entered their cause/effect statement have them discuss cause vs. effect as a whole group.
  3. Read Aloud: Share the book, From Farm to School – Crops of North Carolina: A Visit to a Strawberry Patch by Heather Barnes and Karen Baltimore.
  4. Explain to students that as you are reading they will record ideas of cause and effect relationships in the book. For example: As you are reading, stop on page 8. After reading say, “Oh, reading this just gave me a thought; the farmer laid the black plastic to prevent weeds. Could this statement be a cause and effect relationship?” Student responses should be in agreement; this is a cause and effect relationship. Cause: the farmer put down black plastic.  Effect: the plastic prevents weeds. Ask students, “Is there any other cause and effect relationship we can identify in this photo or from this text?”

  1. Independent Practice: Allow students to continue reading the story or review the book pages to come up with more cause and effect relationships. Have students write a short paragraph in which they identify at least two cause and effect relationships between ideas presented in the book, From Farm to School – Crops of North Carolina: A Visit to a Strawberry Patch by Heather Barnes and Karen Baltimore. Students will complete the activity on Strawberry Cause and Effect (see Essential File).
  2. Finally, ask students to explain:
    • Why is it important to clearly identify cause and effect relationships in non-fiction and other scientific texts? (A cause is why something happened and an effect is what happened. We learn about real world situations in non-fiction and scientific texts. We learn in the book, farmers often learn from cause and effect relationships. They always look at different circumstances such as weather, disease, and pest damage for increasing crop yields or to make predictions regarding growth and/or harvesting times. The cause and effect relationship helps them understand why and what happened in productivity situations.)

Activity 6: Students will design a strawberry patch.

Standards: 4.NBT.B.4, 4.MD.A.3, 4.G.A.1


  • Technology (SMART Board/computer/iPad)
  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Large graph paper
  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Ruler
  • Cardboard
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • String
  • Straws
  • Toothpicks

Essential Files/Links:

  • Build Your Own Strawberry Patch
  • Strawberry Patch Design Plan

Essential Question: How do farmers design their strawberry fields?

  1. Introduce students to perimeter and area using the video below.
  1. On large graph paper or on virtual graph paper (http://print-graph-paper.com/virtual-graph-paper) demonstrate for students how to use lines, line segments, and angles to create shapes, specifically rectangles and squares. Discuss the difference between perpendicular, intersecting and parallel lines. After discussing key terminology connected to drawing shapes, draw a shape on the graph paper. Demonstrate how to find the area and perimeter of the shapes you draw. This may be a good time to call students to the front and allow them to draw lines to create other shapes, or provide a technology device and have students interact with virtual graph paper.
  2. Introduce or reintroduce the book From Farm to School – Crops of North Carolina: A visit to the Strawberry Patch by Heather Barnes and Karen Baltimore. Ask students, “Do you think farmers use area and perimeter when they are designing their strawberry fields? Have you ever wondered how many plants a strawberry farmer plants? Do you think farmers consider lines and line segments when they are planning and planting their crops?”
  3. Student investigation should provide answers to these questions. Possible answers may include: Farmers need to understand area and perimeter to design planting procedures for their strawberry plants such as number of plants per row and/or acre. Farmers use lines and line segments because they plant strawberry plants in rows. See more information in the Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
  4. After introduction of lesson, provide students with 2 sheets of graph paper (to start). Explain to students, “You will follow the same procedures as we have done in our lesson to help create and design your strawberry patch.” Say to students, “Take into consideration how a strawberry patch looks. Ask yourself these questions: How long are the rows? How does the farmer have the rows separated? How should I design my strawberry patch?”
  5. Students should think back to the images of a strawberry patch in the book, From Farm to School – Crops of North Carolina: A Visit to the Strawberry Patch by Heather Barnes and Karen Baltimore. Students should identify that strawberry rows run parallel to one another and no strawberry rows intersect one another. One way to describe rows of strawberry plants are as line segments, because each has a beginning and an ending point.
  6. Before students begin working to design their strawberry patch tell them more graph paper is available for their design. Each student can receive up to 4 sheets of graph paper. Students will attach sheets of graph paper together with tape to make a larger surface area for their assignment.
  7. Briefly review instructions for assignment with students.
  • Instructions:
    • Students will draw a strawberry patch using at least 2, but no more than 4 sheets of graph paper. Students will design a realistic strawberry patch, taking into account that rows of strawberry plants do not cross.
    • Students will identify parallel lines, perpendicular lines, intersecting lines, as well as right angles and vertices (G.A.1).
    • Students will identify area and perimeter of each row of strawberry plants (MD.A.3). Students will use addition equations to demonstrate perimeter and multiplication equations to demonstrate area.
    • Students will also create a plan to add all square feet they have in their strawberry patch. Identify that 1 square on the graph paper = 1,000 square feet (1,000 sq. ft.). Students will demonstrate addition and/or multiplication equations and problems to gather answers (NBT.B.4).
  1. Allow students 15 minutes to draw shapes using a ruler to ensure straight lines on graph paper. Say to students, “After you design your strawberry patch and complete all of the steps to your assignment, you will complete the Strawberry Patch Design Plan (see Essential Files).
  2. Students may then take time to color and decorate their strawberry patch design to be put on display in the classroom.
  3. Extension: Once students have designed their strawberry patch, expand on their learning with an opportunity for project-based learning. Students will bring their strawberry patch to life in a 3-D diorama or build their strawberry farm through writing. This project could take a couple of weeks to complete and could be done in the classroom as an enrichment activity or be completed at home with support from parents. Additionally, students could also work together in partners or groups to save on materials and time.
  4. Students must begin with research for growing strawberries and will take into account the different materials needed for a strawberry farmer.
  5. After students have had time to build knowledge and research components of strawberry farming, share with them NCSU Strawberry Budget: https://strawberries.ces.ncsu.edu/strawberries-plasticulture-considerations-equipment/

See Strawberry Budget Program Conventional

  1. After students have gained adequate knowledge, begin virtual Build Your Own Strawberry Patch (see Essential Files).
  • Step One: As a class, make a list of needed materials for a real life strawberry patch on chart paper, i.e. strawberry plants, black plastic, tractor, equipment, irrigation equipment, workers to set out strawberry plants, etc.
  • Step Two: Assign a price for the items on your list. The price of these items could be realistic. This is an opportunity to research actual cost of items to allow students to examine the large investment farmers make to grow our food. Often times, farmers buy equipment that have multiple uses on their farms because of the financial cost of the equipment. See Additional Links for places to research cost of farm equipment.
  • Step Three: Gather materials and brainstorm. Provide students with a bag of materials or have them bring in materials from home (if you choose to complete this project in the classroom). Allow one day for brainstorming and planning, students may also design or sketch out their plan.
  • Step Four: (1) Create an itemized budget. Students will refer back to the item list with prices. (2) Students will try to purchase all of the materials they use. (3) Students will use this to create their budget. When they propose their finished project they will also have to share how much money they spent to build and furnish their strawberry patch. An example:
Item Cost Use
Strawberry plant


$0.25 Planting
Black plastic


$500 per acre Farmers usually use 2 rolls per acre


Farm labor $10 per hour or more Planting, harvesting, work related to growing strawberries
Farm equipment


Already provided Used for laying plastic, bedding rows, spraying






Drip tape

Average diesel fuel per gallon $2.25




To run equipment, haul strawberries to market, etc.


Farmers use one roll per acre. Used to irrigate strawberry beds


  • If strawberry plants were to cost $0.25 a plant (hypothetically) and farmers plant about 17,500 plants per acre and students created a strawberry farm that is 4 acres. 1 acre would cost $4,375.00, students would add 4,375.00 + 4,375.00 + 4,375.00 + 4,375.00 = $17,500.00 or 4,375.00 X 4 = 17,500.
  • Additionally, students will need to factor in cost of black plastic. Let’s average black plastic as $500.00 per acre (hypothetically), so 500 + 500 + 500 + 500 = 2,000 or 500 X 4 = 2,000.
  • Explain to students that they already have a tractor and equipment on the farm to lay the black plastic, but how much does it cost to run the tractor and pay workers to set out the strawberries?
  • Explain to students that they can pay their workers $10.00 an hour and the workers should work about 20 hours to set out the strawberry plants.
  • Students can also research the cost of other equipment and materials needed such as sprinkler systems, etc. See links in Additional Links
  • Once students have added all items associated with their farm they will add all totals for determining their answer. Disclaimer: These totals are based on an average and do not distinguish exact costs of growing strawberries.
  • Step Five: Design and create your strawberry farm. Materials may include cardboard, construction paper, scissors, tape, glue, string, straws, toothpicks, etc.
  • Step Six: Present strawberry farm 3-D diorama.

Note: For a more accurate account of cost, invite a strawberry farmer to your class for discussing all of the economic factors for growing strawberries per acre or have students write a letter asking for more information.

  • NCSU Strawberry budget (this may be helpful for teachers to look over)

Link: https://strawberries.ces.ncsu.edu/strawberries-budgets/

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:

  • Why is the strawberry the state red berry for North Carolina?

Strawberries were named the state red berry in 2001. Strawberries are very important to the agricultural economy of North Carolina. In fact, they bring millions of dollars of revenue to the state. Aside from the obvious economic benefits, strawberries offer many other benefits. Strawberries are rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin A. The provide 8% of the daily iron intake. There are only 60 calories in one serving of strawberries (about a cup).

  • How do strawberries find their way from the field to grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and other retail venues for consumers to purchase?

A lot goes in to getting us fresh, delicious, and high-quality food to eat. Farmers sell their strawberries to local farmer’s markets, at roadside stands, right off their farm as pick-your-own berries (aka: PYO), and of course at grocery stores. A lot of time and labor goes into getting strawberries on grocery store shelves. Strawberries are grown, harvested, sorted, packed, stored, and transported to grocery stores all before getting to consumers. Strawberries are typically sold cheaper at pick-your-own farms, because there are not as many steps to get them to the consumer. Therefore, more time and effort is required of the consumer for harvesting strawberries at pick-your-own farms. In North Carolina, strawberry harvest is April-May, so it is important to create a good plan and find local farms to purchase berries. Don’t have time to pick your own berries? No problem, farmers sell their crop in different ways to reach all consumers. We are fortunate that we can purchase strawberries from grocery stores in every season or during the harvest season, locally.

  • Why do farmers consider the relationship between producers and consumers, goods and services, and supply and demand to be important?

A farmer grows the food and fiber for our nation. With less than 2% of the population being directly connected to a farm there are very few individuals that feed and clothe our nation. This explains why a farmer considers the relationship of goods and services, producers and consumers, and supply and demand to be important. In explaining this further, it is important to highlight that the farmer is the producer and the consumer. First and foremost the farmer wants to make or grow a product that is marketable and desired by the consumer. The farmer grows the best product possible, because both the farmer and the consumer will use these goods.

Farmers provide goods and services; for example, the farmer grows the good (product) such as strawberries to sell to the public. In selling directly to the public there are many things that have to happen for the product to get to the consumer. An example is the truck driver (service) who hauls the produce from field to the store. The laborers (service) pick the produce or run equipment that loads the truck that takes the produce to the stores. The grocery store clerk (service) stocks the shelves and ensures the end product is clean and ready for purchase. These are just a few examples of the relationship between goods and services.

Additionally, the relationship with the farmer associated with supply and demand is vitally important. The farmer wants to meet the demand of the consumer and markets the strawberries to what the consumer wants. The farmer has to provide an adequate supply to meet the consumer’s demand. Farmers have to predict and calculate acreage necessary to meet the needs of the consumer while also not planting too much because an overage could result in produce not being picked and bought.

  • Are strawberries a healthy snack?

The answer to this question is, yes!  Strawberries are very healthy to eat. They are a great source of many vitamins and minerals we need to sustain a healthy body.

Use the following information to learn more.

  • Why do farmers use black plastic for growing strawberries?

The southeastern strawberry production system uses a special black plastic to cover the soil. Made for farming, this plastic is very thin, yet strong and flexible. The flexibility of the plastic allows it to gently stretch over the soil without tearing. The black plastic warms the soil, acts as mulch to suppress weeds, and conserve water. It also limits diseases by keeping fruit from contacting the soil. Agricultural black plastic is usually 5 feet wide and comes in rolls (an average cost for a 5’ X 4000’ roll of black plastic = $250). Farmers use black plastic to help conserve water, control weeds, keep berries clean and safe from decay, and it also warms the soil to help with the growth of the strawberry plant.

  • How do farmers design their strawberry fields?

Strawberries in North Carolina are usually grown in double rows on black plastic- covered raised beds, set 5 feet apart. Farmers leave space between rows to allow room for walking and harvesting. Strawberry plants are usually planted between 12” and 15” apart. This is about the size of an inch ruler. In recent years, farmers have been moving away from closer spacing to wider spacing, to save on the cost of plants, and reduce disease in the fields. With more open spacing, there is more air circulation. How many plants are usually planted per acre? “Rule of thumb” quantities, respectively, are 17,500 and 15,000 plants/acre. Strawberry growers always buy extra transplants in case some die. If plants are grown in the same field year after year, the farmer develops a good idea of how many are needed.

Suggested Companion Resources

National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Agriculture and the Environment

  • Explain how the interaction of the sun, soil, water, and weather in plant and animal grown impacts agricultural production
  • Identify the major ecosystems and agro-ecosystems in their community or region (e.g., hardwood forests, conifers, grasslands, and deserts) with agro-ecosystems (e.g. grazing areas and crop growing regions)
  • Recognize the natural resources used in agricultural practices to produce food, feed, clothing, landscaping plants, and fuel (e.g., soil, water, air, plants, animals, and minerals)

Plant and Animals for Food, Fiber, and Energy

  • Understand the concept of stewardship and identify ways farmers/ranchers care for soil, water, plants, and animals

Food, Health, and Lifestyle 

  • Describe the necessary food components of a healthy diet using the current dietary guidelines
  • Diagram the path of production for a processed product, from farm to table
  • Identify food sources of required food nutrients

Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics 

  • Compare simple tools to complex modern machines used in agricultural systems to improve efficiency and reduce labor
  • Identify examples of how the knowledge of inherited traits is applied to farmed plants and animals in order to meet specific objectives (i.e., increased yields, better nutrition, etc.)
  • Provide examples of science being applied in farming for food, clothing, and shelter products

Culture, Society, and Geography 

  • Discover that there are many jobs in agriculture
  • Explain the value of agriculture and how it is important in daily life

NC Standard Course of Study

English/Language Arts

4.RI.5 Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.

4.RI.3 Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

4.RI.7 Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

4.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

4.W.2b Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

4.W.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

4.W.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.


4.NBT.B.4 Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

4.MD.A.3 Apply the area and perimeter formulas for rectangles in real world and mathematical problems. For example, find the width of a rectangular room given the area of the flooring and the length, by viewing the area formula as a multiplication equation with an unknown factor.

4.G.A.1 Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures.


4.L.2 Understand food and the benefits of vitamins, minerals, and exercise.

4.L.2.1 Classify substances as food or non-food items based on their ability to provide energy and materials for survival, growth, and repair of the body.

4.L.2.2 Explain the role of vitamins, minerals, and exercise in maintaining a healthy body.

4.NPA.1 Apply tools (MyPlate, Food Facts Label) to plan healthy nutrition and fitness.

Social Studies

4.H.2.2 Explain the historical significance of North Carolina’s state symbols.

4.G.1.1 Summarize changes that have occurred in North Carolina since statehood (population growth, transportation, communication, landscape).

4.E.1.1 Understand the basic concepts of a market economy: supply, demand, scarcity, productivity, and entrepreneurship.

Sources and Credits

  1. https://www.morningagclips.com/2019-n-c-strawberry-season-under-way/
  2. https://burke.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/strawberries-in-the-home-garden-copy.pdf?fwd=no
  3. https://ncstrawberry.com/consumers/consumer-information
  4. https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/north-carolina/state-food-agriculture-symbol/strawberry
  5. https://strawberryplants.org/strawberry-plant/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18211020
  7. https://www.teachertrap.com/2015/11/personal-financial-literacy.html/

Additional Links


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