Saturday, February 20, 2016

Apples Are the Focus of Ag Literacy Week

From Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:

Beautiful New York Empire apples
Empire Farm & Dairy

Apples are going to be the focus for this year’s Ag Literacy Week.

Volunteers across New York state will go into elementary schools March 14 through 18 to read the book “The Apple Orchard Riddle” to second-graders as part of Ag Literacy Week.

This event is held each year around the time of National Agriculture Day (March 15) to help bring agriculture into the classroom. A book about a different farm product or aspect of farming is chosen each year to be read in second-grade classrooms throughout the state. The elementary schools are given copies of the book and teachers and the readers discuss the book with the students.

There are also related activities that tie in to make this experience fun and engaging.

“The Apple Orchard Riddle,” written by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, takes children on the journey of Mr. Tiffin’s class taking a field trip to the apple orchard were they will learn every aspect of the farm, including how apples are harvested, the process of making cider and the many different varieties of apples.

While the class picks their apples and checks out the farm, Mr. Tiffin gives them all a riddle to ponder.

The book was chosen because of the importance of apples in New York’s economy. New York ranks second in the United States in apple production and the state has more apple varieties than any other state. 

The apple industry also provides more than 17,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state and there are more than 680 producers growing apples on more than 55,000 acres. New York apples go not only for fresh eating and cider, but also for sauce, apple pie filling and even for alcoholic spirits and hard cider.

Anyone interested in reading in a classroom for Ag Literacy Week should go to  to see the Ag Literacy Day contact for their particular county.  

Volunteers who go into the classrooms to read the book usually are somehow connected with agriculture — such as dairy princesses, master gardeners, farmers, Cooperative Extension agents, etc. But anyone can volunteer to read.

Now in its 11th year, Ag Literacy Week is sponsored by the New York Ag in the Classroom program. Some of the other topics children learned about in previous years were beekeeping, poultry, maple, weaving fibers, cheese, tree farming, seeds and gardening.

For more information, go to

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