Learn with Hanford Mills

Crop to Cornbread: Turning Grain into Bread




Understand the concept of trade and how it fit into the everyday lives of people in the past and people today.


Students will engage in a discussion about where the ingredients in a historic recipe originate, where their groceries come from today, and how food gets from the fields to their homes.


  • Cornbread recipe
  • Ingredients for cornbread recipe
  • A copy of the cornbread recipe for each student


  • Preparation Time: : 15 minutes
  • Class Time: approximately 60 minutes


  • At the beginning of class, explain to the class that you will be making cornbread.
  • Ask students how you know what to use to make the bread.
    • Go over the recipe with the students. Discuss each ingredient.
      Questions to ask about each ingredient:

    • Do you think it was made locally? If not, where did it come from?
    • How do you think it got from where it was grown to where it was purchased? (i.e. where did the stores get it from?)
  • Ask the students if they know what “trade” is. Explain that trade is a system of buying and selling (where people get the things they need but cannot produce from other parts of the region, the country or the world). This is how people in East Meredith got things that they needed, like molasses, which was not grown in this part of the country. Explain that Hanford Mills was a part of the trade system; that the business provided goods for market and they bought goods from market. People in the nineteenth century, like people today, had to rely on others for certain goods.
  • Ask the students where their groceries, like the ingredients in the recipe, come from. Explain that their parents provide a service to others, and get paid in exchange for it. They then use that money to buy goods. Trade still exists!
  • As a class, follow the cornbread recipe provided to make cornbread. Explain that the recipe is historic, from a diary of a resident of East Meredith.
  • Make copies of the recipe to distribute to students.


  • Participation in class discussion (speaking and listening)
  • Participation in making cornbread

NYS Learning Standards:

  • ELA Standard 1
  • Social Studies Standard 4