CCSS: 7.RP.A.3, MP1, MP4, MP6

TEKS: 6.5B

The Plant Doctor

George Washington Carver’s work helped farmers be successful and care for the land

Bettmann/Getty Images

George Washington Carver (right) grew up in rural Missouri in the 1870s, just after the Civil War ended. As a boy, Carver had a talent for helping plants grow and recover from diseases. Locals called him the “Plant Doctor.”

In 1896, Carver became the first Black American to earn an advanced degree in agricultural science. That same year, famous Black educator Booker T. Washington invited Carver to teach at the all-Black Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

At Tuskegee, Carver encouraged local farmers to switch from growing mostly cotton to planting a variety of crops. This was better for the soil. Carver recommended ways farmers could heal the land while also supporting their farms and families.

Carver believed in using science to help people, to stop hunger, and to reduce waste.

A. In 1890, U.S. farmers grew 1,793,869 tons of cotton, and 1,309,285 tons were grown in the South. What percent is that?

B. Alabama farmers grew 16% of the cotton in the South. How much was that?

In 1890, most of Alabama’s farms were on land owned by White men. Black farmers often worked the land. They had to give a large portion of their profits to the landowners. About 5% of the 141,965 cotton farms in Alabama were owned by Black farmers. How many is that?

In 1890, 10.6% of the 223,220 farms in Alabama grew peanuts. In 1910, 14.3% of the 262,901 farms grew peanuts. How many more farms grew peanuts in 1910 than in 1890?

In 1925, Carver published “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing It for Human Consumption,” which had recipes for 5 soups, 5 salads, 6 breads, 21 desserts, and 29 candies. What percent of total peanut recipes do these categories combined represent?

A. In one Alabama county, farmers grew about 15,000 bales of cotton in 1914. In 1915, they grew only 30% of that after boll weevils arrived. How much cotton was grown in 1915?

B. In 1916, only 10% of the original amount was grown. How much is that?

By 1940, peanuts had grown into a $200 million industry. There were 104,525 farms in Alabama growing peanuts, which was about 21.3% of the total peanut farms in the U.S. How many U.S. farms were growing peanuts?

A. Carver invented hundreds of products based on peanuts. The Tuskegee Institute lists 135 foods and beverages, 331 medicines and cosmetics, 50 dyes and paints, and 73 general house and farm items made from peanuts. What percent of the total inventions listed does each category represent?

B. If historians were to find a journal of Carver’s with 18 new peanut cosmetics, how would that change the percents you found in part A?

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