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Geography in our Backyard

This story was submitted by Kathy Walker, CDA, District Administrative Coordinator of the SWCD in Huntsville in Madison County, AL.  She said that Linda Hardee is one of the teachers that she has worked with for many years and that Linda attended her annual Madison County teacher workshop again this year.  Linda related that in another workshop, her assignment was to write an article and she wrote about “Earth as an Apple,” a demonstration that Kathy had used many times in her workshops. Kathy says that it is such a great article that she wanted to share it.

Linda Hardee-Teacher

Linda Hardee attends a teacher workshop.

Our Earth is Like an Apple--a Demonstration on the Importance of Soil

By Linda Hardee

7-14 Apple as the earth

Is it soil or dirt? Well, it just may depend on who is asked. Both items may look the same, but they are really quite different.

Dirt gets under your fingernails when you garden. Kids track in mud on their shoes and red clay gets “ground in” their clothes.

Soil is an important and essential part of growing our food. Soil contains essential elements needed for food production. Unfortunately, we have a limited amount of good quality soil.

Kathy Walker, District Administrative Coordinator, CDA, Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District said, “Earth as an Apple is such a great visual demonstration for any age group! I have used this simple demonstration for preschoolers and for senior adult programs and I always get the same response, WOW! When you put education into simple, visual presentations, people listen.”

First, imagine the Earth as an apple. You might even choose to use a real apple, draw a picture or just think about it.

Divide the apple into quarters. Put one quarter to the side, removing the three quarter pieces. These discarded pieces represent the world’s oceans. Oceans are approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface.

Slice the apple section representing land (the original quarter) in half – one eighth of the whole apple. The discarded part represents the land that cannot be used. This includes swamps, polar regions, high elevations, etc. These are areas you cannot physically get to for farming preparation.

The one-eighth of an apple is divided into four parts, each representing one thirty-second of the apple. The other three pieces are too cold, too hot, too wet, or soil depletion has rendered it unusable. This also includes land covered by man-made structures or roads.

One thirty-second of our Earth is all the land a farmer has available to grow our nation’s food…almost. Peel the skin off that tiny piece of an apple. That is all the soil there is that is usable for our farmers.

It’s just a little piece left and it is getting smaller as building developments continue to encroach farm land, taking more and more land away from food production.

We have to be aware of the consequences of our actions and need to continue to protect our environment. This protection includes air quality, water quality, and our land quality.

As Mrs. Walker stated, “…when you put education into simple, visual presentations, people listen”.
I sincerely hope we all hear that message.