When the first settlers arrived in Rome the only plants that were there were beech, oak, laurel, and pine trees. The settlers began deforestation around 700 B. C. , they used some of these trees to build homes. The volcanic ash helped make the soil very rich and fertile, but it would only grow a good crop of wheat well for about two growing seasons. Farmers plowed little rows to plant the seeds. They plowing the ground over and over again until the soil got crumbly and dusty, this helped the plants could get all of the nutrients they needed to grow.
After they plowed the ground they plowed the seed down into the ground. Agriculture was the foundation of Romeos economy. Most rural people were poor farmers. Men, women, and child worked very hard long days. Most small farms were two to five acres. When poor farmers were kicked Out they would move to the city to find work . Some farmers were tenant farmers, this means they would work for part of the harvest. If farmers couldn’t afford their own land they would rent from land owners. They would paid rent in money, crops, or animals.
If a farmer could afford it they researched a slave to help them with their farm work. Slaves were a big part of the economy because they were cheap labor. Many slaves were brought back and then sold and the money went to help with wars. People who were conquered in war were usually forced into slavery. When it came time for the farmers to harvest the wheat and grain that they grew they used a cart that had knives on the front to cut it down. To separate the grain form the stalk they had horses walk on top of it. The families used a lot of what they grew, but sold the rest of what they had .
Small farms did not only grow grains but also grew many different fruits and vegetables. Roman farmers turned to two cash crops grapes and olives. They got the idea of growing these cash crops from the Greeks. These two crops were so valuable because the olives were used for olive oil and the grapes were used to make wine. They also grew fruit trees. To make the fruit trees grow better they would cut off branches of trees and attach them to the other ones. Roman farmers also raised animals. Some of the animals they raised were goats, ducks, chickens, geese, pigs, and sheep. They goats for cheese, milk, and meat.
They raised livestock for dairy reduces, food and leather. They also started keeping bulls for breeding. The families would keep some of the livestock for themselves to eat, but then they would make profit off of whatever they didn’t keep. Autumn was planting season for the Romans and April and May was their harvesting season. They got a new tool called a erratum, it was a wooden plow pulled by an ox. One person would walk through the fields throwing the seeds and the other would plow. One of the tools they used for harvesting was a fall, it had a curved blade and a handle.
Market garden was what kept the cities supplied, cause whenever farmers had excess crops they would take them there to sell. Farmers discovered that they could get fertilizer form where their animals grazed. If they didn’t own animals they would put things such as garbage, ashes, straw, and dead plants into a compost pit to make fertilizer. They found that beans, clover, and alfalfa enriched the soil. Farmers began to rotate crops so then different fields would have a chance to go fallow. If farmers didn’t keep their fields well drained they would turn into swamps. With all of the improvements in farming the population of Rome began to row.
Famine began to get bad after the topsoil washed out and swampy fields began to make farmers leave their farms. It got so bad around 436 B. C. That thousands of hungry people jump into the Tiber river. Rome eventually conquered Tuscany to get more farmlands for themselves. The Punic wars went on for one hundred years and Rome won. These wars took toll on Romeos fields. During the second century villages were always fighting against each other. The winner would light the grain fields on fire. Rome had around two million acres of destroyed farmland by the end of the wars.