Farming in Ancient Rome: Lesson for Kids

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kristin Pia Hayman

Kristin taught for over 10 years in the elementary classroom. She holds a B.A. in Journalism as well as a Master's Degree in Elementary Education.

Explore the use of farming in ancient Rome. Discover the crops they grew, the tools and techniques used, and which part of Roman society grew food. Finally, delve into the Roman food trade. Updated: 01/04/2022

An Old Profession

''Tell me, all you who have journeyed through many lands, have you seen a more richly farmed land than Italy?'' This is a quote from a Roman writer in the first century named Varro, and he was right. The area where ancient Rome was built began attracting settlers early on because its fertile land and mild climate were perfect for growing crops.

The size of the farms in ancient Rome depended on who owned them. Wealthy Romans ran large farms with many employees, while poor farmers ran smaller farms and worked the fields themselves. Most of the large farms were run by servants, and the field work was done by slaves while the owners collected profits.

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  • 0:04 An Old Profession
  • 0:44 Who Were The Roman Farmers?
  • 1:19 What Did They Grow?
  • 1:49 Advanced Tehnology
  • 2:42 The Food Trade
  • 3:04 Lesson Summary
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Who Were the Roman Farmers?

In ancient Roman society, everyone worked at different jobs to help meet the basic needs of all citizens more effectively. One of the most important jobs was to be a farmer because, obviously, people needed to eat! Who were these farmers of ancient Rome? Just about everyone! Over 90% of ancient Romans lived in the countryside, and the most common job there was to be a farmer. Farmers worked hard! They got up early and worked seven days a week doing chores and tending to crops. Most farmers either owned their own farmland, or worked for a larger business.

What Did They Grow?

Romans ate many types of food, but you could find three major foods on almost every Roman's table: bread, olive oil, and wine. Many different things were grown in the Roman countryside, but the most commonly grown crops reflected their diet. This included grains such as wheat, barley, and spelt, which were used for making bread, as well as grapes for wine and olives for oil. Farmers also raised cows, sheep, and goats for their milk, which could be turned into butter and cheese.

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