Value-added Agriculture Relay

This activity is from the Growing in the Garden Outdoor Classroom Leaders Guide lesson, “Value-added Agriculture Relay”.

  • Fresh vegetable, fruit, grain, herb, flower (see Supply and Setup Key below)
  • Processed vegetable, fruit, grain, herb, flower (see Supply and Setup Key)
  • Large empty box
  • Table or blanket
  • Large pieces of paper
  • Crayons or markers
  • Play money or coins
Supply and Setup Key for the value-added agriculture relay

Using a selection of the fresh and processed items, talk about which ones come directly from the farm and which ones have been changed or processed. Ask the children which products they would like to buy first, the fresh ones or the processed ones. Ask if the farmers could sell more if people wanted their products after it was changed or processed into another form. Explain that “value-added agriculture” is a term used when an agricultural product such as fresh produce is changed to increase its use or value.

Ask the students what needs to be done to turn the fresh produce into value-added agriculture products.

Using the items on the key and the relay instructions, have the students play the value-added Agriculture Relay.

  • Divide the group into no more than five teams with five people on each team. Name each team using the agriculture product labels: vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and fiber.
  • Set up stations. Place the garden produce or agriculture product on the ground. Explain that these are samples of agriculture products that PRODUCERS, farmers or ranchers grow.
  • Place the processed items on the ground at least 10 feet away. Explain that this area is the processing plant where agricultural products are processed and packaged by PROCESSORS.
  • Place a large, empty box at least 20 feet from the processing plant. Explain that the box represents a warehouse where DISTRIBUTORS store products until they are sold to stores.
  • Place the table or blanket at least 10 feet from the warehouse box. Explain that this is the grocery store where GROCERS sell agricultural products.
  • At the end of the line are the CONSUMERS or shoppers. They will stand at least 20 feet from the grocery store. Have the students identify and count each station.
  • Set up the players: Assign each team member to be a producer, processor, distributor, grocer, or consumer.
  • The producers should stand next to the agricultural products. Explain that when you say “GO”. They will pick up the product that matches their team. For instance, the farmer on the vegetable team will pick up the vegetable. The farmer on the fruit team will pick up the fruit, etc. Then they will run to the processing plant, where the processed foods are, and hand their product to the processor on their team. Tell the children they need to hurry so that the product stays fresh!
  • The processors puts the product on the ground and picks up the appropriate processed item for that product. Then they run to the warehouse or distribution center (box) to keep the agricultural products moving through the food system. Have them put their processed items in the box as they will be placed on a shelf at the warehouse.
  • The distributor markets or sells products to restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, etc. After the processor from his or her team puts the processed item in the warehouse box, the distributor pretends to pick up a phone, says “Hello.” “Yes.” “Bye.” and hangs up. Then the distributor picks the processed item from the box and runs it to the grocery store that ordered it over the phone.
  • The grocer takes the item from the distributor. The grocer uses marketing techniques, such as advertising and store displays, to sell more of the item. The grocer will hold up the product and yell “___ (whatever the product is) for sale.” Set the product on the table or blanket. That will be a signal for the consumers to come buy their products.
  • When the grocer yells that team’s product is on sale, the consumer runs to the store, picks up the item, pays the grocer, and takes it back to where they were standing.
  • Briefly go over the relay steps one more time and have the producers, processors, distributors, grocers, and consumers yell what they are going to do. Explain that agricultural products, especially food, moves quickly from the place it is grown to the grocery store.
  • Start the game by yelling “GO!”

The first team to get its product to the home of the consumer wins.


Wow, were there lots of things going on in this relay?

Did it go really fast in spite of all the things going on?
These relays are similar to what happens to agricultural products, especially the food you eat.

How many steps did it take to get these food and fiber products from the farm, ranch or garden where they were growing to the consumers?
The producer had to grow it. The processor had to turn it into a product that consumers want. The distributor had to store it and sell it to a store or restaurant. The grocer had to put it on the shelves and in the coolers and sell it. Then the consumer had to choose it and buy it. That totals to five major steps with many other steps going on at each of the places in the relay.

How long do you think it takes to get agricultural food items from the producer to the grocery store?
In most instances, perishable foods such as milk, meat and egg products make it in three or less days.

Does the producer really take his or her own agricultural products to the processor?

Does the processor really take the processed items to the distributor and the distributor to the store?

Who usually drives the products from place to place?
A trucker, sometimes a train engineer, a pilot, or a captain of a ship.

Would anyone like to be a trucker?

Did the process go smoothly in the relay from producer to consumer? If not, what happened?

What would happen in real life if something happened to any one of the steps along the way?

Can you think of some of the things that might happen to affect the food system?
Crop failure, flood, accident, fire, shortage of something in the processing or packing plant, etc.


Raise your hand if you are a consumer.

Everyone’s hand should be in the air, why?
Being a consumer means you eat or use agricultural products. If you didn’t eat, you couldn’t live for long.

Once someone in your family has purchased food at the grocery store, how many steps does it take to get from the shelf in the store to your dinner table?
You may want to discuss the answer using hamburger, frozen pizza, a favorite cereal, fresh or processed fruits or vegetables, etc.

What can you read on the label to tell you about storing and using agricultural food products?
There are “sell or purchase by” and “use by” dates that tell you how long the product will stay at its optimum freshness. You can also read where to store items before or after they are opened and instructions on how to use or prepare them once the product has been opened.  

How can you tell just by looking and maybe touching if raw food products such as fruits, vegetables, and meat are ready to eat?
Color, surface texture, and firmness are the easiest tests to help you make decisions on how fresh and ready things are to eat.

What job would you like to do in the food and fiber relay?
You may want to play the relay again so that the players can try another role or product.

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