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Canadian Agriculture at a Glance Teacher's Kit > Lesson plans

Lesson: What is "sustainable" agriculture?

View the article (PDF)

Curriculum connections
Notes to teacher
Teaching and learning strategies
Assessment/evaluation strategies
Accommodation and enrichment strategies
Links to other activities
Suggestions for further research


This activity focuses on the concept of sustainability as it applies to agriculture. In order to fully understand the concept of sustainability we need to understand all aspects of it: environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Curriculum connections


  • demonstrates understanding of the diversity of agricultural endeavours in Canada
  • identifies the human factors that affect food production
  • demonstrates understanding of soil fertility and the factors that affect it
  • demonstrates understanding of how humans are part of the ecological system and how human activity has long- and short-term effects on the environment
  • analyses ways in which agriculture depends on certain resources, and the environmental, economic and social implications
  • explains ways to balance human needs and protect the environment.

Family Studies/Home Economics

  • identifies food supply and production industries in Canada
  • identifies factors that affect food supply in Canada
  • investigates food-related issues
  • understands the links between agriculture and the consumer
  • demonstrates an understanding of the effect of different environmental factors on food production and supply.


  • evaluates how the energy and nutritional needs of a population influence the development and use of plant, animal and soil science and technology
  • demonstrates an understanding of the factors that influence the sustainability of the natural environment and evaluates their importance
  • explains why it is important to be aware of the impact of human activities on the environment
  • demonstrates an understanding of the impact of humans on the environment, and assesses alternative courses of action to protect the environment.

Notes to teacher

This activity can be taught with the others in this unit, which corresponds to the chapter "Agriculture and the Environment" in the book, as part of a group work project on agriculture and the environment. Students can be divided into groups of "experts" to learn about one of the topics; they can then teach the rest of the class about their topic (PDF).

Teaching and learning strategies

  1. Students read the article "What is 'sustainable' agriculture?" on pages 119 to 125 in Canadian Agriculture at a Glance (PDF).
  2. Students answer the following questions based on the article:
    1. Were our ancestors as environmentally friendly? Discuss.
    2. Describe economic sustainability. What factors influence it?
    3. Describe social sustainability. What factors influence it?
    4. What are some of the challenges to sustainability today that farmers of the past did not have to deal with?
    5. Describe the conflict between the different types of sustainability? What can we do?
  3. Students write a letter to the editor of the local paper, explaining sustainability and how we can address the issue.
  4. Students add terminology to their glossaries.

Assessment/evaluation strategies

  1. Assess answers to questions for completion and accuracy.
  2. Evaluate letter to editor.
  3. Assess glossaries for accuracy and completion.

Accommodation and enrichment strategies

  • Some students may require assistance in order to complete written work.
  • Students with special needs may work with a partner to complete a task.
  • Templates for note-taking should be provided to students with special needs.
  • Main ideas and/or new information should be mapped out and organized to meet the needs of all students.
  • Wherever possible, vocabulary lists should be provided with a discussion of context clues and related vocabulary.
  • Students with special needs may wish to complete an oral, taped or video presentation rather than a written assignment.
  • For enrichment, students may wish to visit a farm to see first-hand the ways in which sustainability is being addressed.  

Links to other activities

This activity is linked to:

Suggestions for further research

  • Students can visit other websites (government and non-government) to see how they are supporting sustainability.
  • Students can use 2001 Census of Agriculture data in E-STAT for data analysis, graphing and mapping activities for specific geographic areas of local interest.

Please send comments or examples of how you used this lesson in your class to Learning Resources.

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Date modified: 2008-05-20 Important Notices