We have a long way until wintertime, but today let’s visit two states which grow products we often associate with the holiday season. Did you ever wonder where your candy canes and Christmas trees come from? These two states are across the country from each other, but both are major producers of these crops. Let’s go to Nevada to learn about mint farming and then to New Hampshire to learn about evergreen tree farming!
Did you know that the U.S. grows more than 70% of the mint grown in the world? One of the states where mint is grown is Nevada!
You may be surprised to hear that there are NOT a whole lot of books about growing mint out there! But there are plenty of books about starting a garden! Let’s follow along with this read aloud of The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown.
Learn more about mint farming by watching this video of a farmer who turns his mint into mint oil. Guess where it goes next? Your tube of toothpaste!
For more information, check out this article about mint farming in the U.S. https://aghires.com/u-s-produces-70-worlds-mint/
If you have peppermint candies at home, try this cool peppermint water science activity! https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/peppermint-water-science-sensory-play/
Mint is commonly grown in gardens and landscaping around the U.S. also. Anyone who plants mint ends up with A LOT of it because it spreads quickly. If you have mint growing in your yard, you can make homemade mint play-doh! (You could also buy some mint at the grocery store!) https://theimaginationtree.com/natural-mint-play-dough-recipe/
Learn more about Nevada here! https://www.agclassroom.org/teacher/stats/nevada.pdf
New Hampshire is home to dozens of evergreen tree farms, which they advertise as Christmas trees! Watch this video to learn more about New Hampshire and their farms!
Coniferous trees, or evergreens, do not lose their leaves during the winter-they have to tough it out! Test the hardiness of coniferous tree branches with this fun experiment! https://lemonlimeadventures.com/pine-branch-hardiness-stem-experiment/
Learn more about New Hampshire here! https://www.agclassroom.org/teacher/stats/newhampshire.pdf
Find some pine tree branches around your yard or neighborhood and try this tree hardiness STEM experiment! (Be sure to ask permission before you cut from any tree!) https://lemonlimeadventures.com/pine-branch-hardiness-stem-experiment/
Something for Everyone
Now we know how mint is grown and turned into oil, but let’s see how that oil is then used to make candy canes!
Assessment and Extended Response
- Mint is a “perennial” crop. What does this mean? (It grows back on its own every year)
- What is one product that we use that might have mint oil? (toothpaste, candy)
- Mint is harvested similarly to what other crop? (hay or straw)
*What other things do you know of that are mint flavored or scented?
- How many Christmas tree growers does New Hampshire have? (over 200)
- How many years does it take to grow a Christmas tree? (up to 9 years!)
- What are some ways that New Hampshire growers sell their trees? (U-Pick farms, sell them to stores, farm stands, mail delivery)
*How are deciduous trees different than coniferous trees? Why would they be so different?