From Then to Now, From Them to Us: a Brief History of Agriculture on National Ag-Day
It’s National Ag-Day! In other words, it’s the day we celebrate agriculture. From ancient times to now, agriculture has been at the forefront of societal development. Today, we take a moment to appreciate agriculture, its rich history, and where it’s headed in the future.
So, why should you celebrate Ag-Day? Agriculture has played an essential role in our development as a society, and it’s important that we appreciate the part agriculture plays in encouraging a strong economy and civilization. (Agriculture represents 20% of the economy today!)
But, more than this, as long as we’re consuming food, we’re benefitting from agriculture’s yields. At Gardenuity, we think understanding how our food products are produced is really really important. As we appreciate the behind-the-scenes of agriculture, we’re more informed and better equipped to make choices about personal health and food consumption.
We’re excited about how far agriculture has come, and we’re thrilled about what we have to offer its future. Here’s a brief history of agriculture—from then to now, from them to us—so you understand where we come from and where we’re headed.
In the beginning, humans were hunter-gatherers that led a primarily nomadic lifestyle. So as seasons changed, groups of people would move to follow food. Then, the landscape changed. Glaciers retreated and plant life patterns and growth altered. In this new climate, humans needed to move less often to find food. They began settling down. Thus, the birth of agriculture as we understand it today.
There’s not an exact time agriculture ‘officially’ began, but scientists place its origins around 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. It’s also highly likely that agricultural practices were used in China along the Yangtze River at this same time.
By 5,500 BC, the Sumerian civilization had formed in the Middle East. It and other pre-Greco-Roman civilizations were the first to understand the value of a specialized agricultural workforce. These specialized workforces led to a specific interest in agricultural technology (Sumerians were among the first to use irrigation practices), and these things in combination allowed for the development of the first true civilizations.
Ancient Egypt had a particularly complex society, and in large part, this is thanks to their advanced system of agriculture. When the Greek and Romans came into prominence, they took agricultural technology from other civilizations—especially Mesopotamia—and advanced their practices, especially in regards to livestock.
EARLY TO MODERN CIVILIZATION
After the fall of Rome and ancient Greece, the Middle East was the leading innovator in agriculture. Because of diverse local topographies and specialized knowledge, the crops grown in the Middle East were particularly successful. European societies wanted part of the yield, so a thriving trade market was built between the Middle East and Europe. Historians call this period the Arab Agricultural Revolution.
In Europe, not much changed in agriculture before the rise of kingdoms in the 11th century. As systems like feudalism rose, agricultural yields hugely increased to match the booming population. Cross-breeding animal livestock and new systems of crop organization were employed. By the 16th century, farmers began using crop rotation—the idea that you can increase yields by switching land use up every year to avoid exhausting the soil.
As colonists arrived in America, they realized they weren’t the only civilizations using agricultural methods. Although mass agriculture practices weren’t always used (Native Americans were often nomadic in nature), certain tribes employed huge systems of agriculture. Particularly, enormous civilizations like the Incans, Mayans, Olmecs, and Aztecs, all used extensive agriculture as early as 2,000 BC.
In the 18th century, as the Industrial Revolution took place, agriculture adapted to technology accordingly. In a short amount of time, several changes were made to farming practices. During this period, four-field systems and selective cross-breeding increased crop yield, animal husbandry practices largely improved, and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution put agriculture on the modern path of science.
During the War Years, agriculture developed intensively to suit the needs of the military. Then, new plastics and the development of nitrates allowed greater yields and widespread access to affordable food—although not without consequences.
THE GARDEN MOVEMENT, IN THE ECOLOGICAL AGE
Today, sustainability is name of the game. We’re constantly trying to balance the desires to protect the environment and people’s health with the growing food needs of the future population.
These days, people have an increased desire to understand exactly where their food comes from—hence, farm-to-table. Now, we’re taking that a step further and offering patio garden-to-table solutions, so you can experience the joy of stress-free growing and keep track of your eats every step of the way. The team at Gardenuity is bridging the gap between you and your food, creating a sustainable, technology-guided growing process. We focus on bringing horticulturally-sound, aesthetically-focused, well-engineered products to the new age customer.
As we nurture thousands of simple urban gardening experiences, we’re growing a garden movement through technology, logistics, operations, and story-telling. We’re increasing the number of sustainable, healthy experiences the world has a year, and as a result, we’re increasing the awareness our world has for the environment, for food, and for our agriculture.
Happy National Ag-Day! The best way to appreciate is to experience it, so celebrate by getting your hands dirty this year. Let’s Get Growing!