Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by East Riding MuseumsHeritage Learning and Normanby Hall Country Park.

Curriculum Links

  • KS3 & 4 History: World War One

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge about the difficulties farmers faced in keeping the nation fed during the First World War and how they addressed these problems
  • Understanding that farmers and agricultural workers played an important role on the Home Front
  • Skills in analysing and interpreting historical evidence

Discussion Ideas

  • Why do you think the government did not take action to deal with the rural labour shortage before 1916?
  • Why do you think farmers objected so strongly to the pay and conditions imposed on them for employing soldiers?
  • What do you think was the impact of employing German prisoners of war as agricultural labourers on farms?
  • Read the extracts from the East Riding War Agricultural Committee minutes (see Resources section).
    - Why do you think the War Agricultural Committee was 'unable' to make arrangements for the employment of conscientious objectors on agricultural work?
    - According to the Committee, what reasons did farmers give for not wanting to employ soldiers?  
    - Why do you think allotments were seen as a solution to food shortages?
    - What other measures did the committee take to encourage the production of food?

Activity Ideas

  • Imagine you are a farmer. It’s 1918. You usually employ 20 men for two months over the summer to work on the harvest, but no men are available this year.
    - How will you ensure the harvest is gathered in on time?
    - Who would you choose to employ? Think about what skills you will need.
    - How will you go about finding them?
    - What practical arrangements would you need to make for your workers?
    - What problems might you encounter, and how will you solve them?