As a player over a period of in-game years, what magic items and spells would allow me to create as much food as possible for a large town (~1000 people) assuming most of them are farmers/could help, and space is not a concern. The town is being created with this goal in mind, so this can be factored in (eg. circular fields for the effects of plant growth).

This is not including spells that are very small individual buffs (Haste, Enlarge/Reduce, etc). They do not need to be explicit about food/farming, something like the Decanter of Endless Water would also work. Lower magic is preferred (1st-5th level spells), but higher-level options are also good to know.

This question has a broader application than this related question that is only about the plant growth spell's applicability.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Would an existing effect/phenomenon from an official campaign world be good for you, or do you want to restrict this to what is available in the general rules (creatures, spells, published magic items) of the official books? Ie something the players could achieve without house rules, given enough money? \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Feb 8 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ So, you could imagine this being a 100 year downtime project for a group of high-level, rich elven PCs, and the DM does not allow researching custom magic? \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Feb 8 at 14:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ WakiNadiVellir thinks closer to a decade and the pcs are more midlevel( max level ten) but otherwise yes, you hit the nail right on the head! the dm often gives out higher-level magic items than would be normally available so that's why I asked about the items also \$\endgroup\$ – Ayden s Feb 8 at 15:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ You say RAW, but are you including optional/variant rules? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 8 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ sure? I didn't see any I could imagine helping though \$\endgroup\$ – Ayden s Feb 8 at 16:28

Farming is work! Using magic can do a lot to improve efficiency, much like industrialization can in non-magical ways. I've divided the most relevant spells I could think of into some broad categories of farm work:

Field and Equipment Preparation

Fabricate (4th level spell)

  • Create tools and equipment
  • In some cases harvest and process in one step

Move Earth (6th level spell)

  • Prepare soil (includes tilling, plowing, mixing to evenly distribute nutrients)

  • Prepare high-labor growing areas (like rice paddies) more easily

Stone Shape (4th level spell)

  • Equipment production, especially precise irrigation systems

Create Food and Water (3rd level spell)

  • Easily produce water for irrigation

  • Create fertilizer precursor material, possibly with precise chemical characteristics

Create or Destroy Water (1st level spell)

  • Create large volumes of water alone

Levitate (2nd level spell)

  • Lift large weights for loading and transport

  • Move water into a position for passive irrigation systems

  • Potential power generation, with some other setup

Field Work

Guidance (Cantrip)

  • Better execution of all tasks (may be awkward to scale)

Speak with Animals (1sts level spell)

  • Recruit special-task employees

  • Dissuade or redirect pests

Conjure Animals (3rd level spell)

  • More workers, suitable to a variety of tasks

Conjure Elemental (5th level spell, Earth elemental specifically)

  • Helpful for dealing efficiently with burrowing pests like voles or gophers

Unseen Servant (1st level spell, ritual)

  • General-purpose workers

Animate Objects (5th level spell)

  • Workers, especially for specialty tasks (think magical machinery)

  • Workers, especially for finely detailed tasks (workers can be tiny)

Alter Self (2nd level spell)

  • Always have the ideal physical form and scale for field tasks

Freedom of Movement (4th level spell)

  • Easier to move through the fields, which may be very helpful with certain crops

Druidcraft (Cantrip)

  • Potentially a quick, effective method of harvesting crops (very crop-dependent)

Growing Conditions

Dancing Lights/Light/Continual Flame/Daylight (Various spell levels)

  • Provides light, which can supplement light on days with poor weather or extend light during non-ideal growing seasons
  • Unclear if the light is useful for plants, though Daylight likely is

Plant Growth (3rd level spell)

  • Doubles harvest

Control Winds (5th level spell)

  • Seed/pollen dispersal

  • Strengthen stalks of some crops

  • Dissuade or redirect some pests, particularly flying insects

Control Weather (8th level spell)

  • Enforce ideal growing conditions for crops

  • Can customize weather within 5-mile blocks for crops with different needs

  • Can extend the conditions of crops' ideal growing season indefinitely

  • \$\begingroup\$ Excellent and exhaustive! I would add also Conjure Animals: more labor force for plowing the fields, or more animal guardians for cattle and sheeps herd, if present. \$\endgroup\$ – Eddymage Feb 8 at 21:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe add Conjure Elemental Earth. They have burrow speed, which could help too work the land, if the DM allows it. \$\endgroup\$ – stupidstudent Feb 8 at 23:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ No love for the mold earth cantrip? \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Feb 9 at 0:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoelHarmon Too limited in application, in my view. The effects seem hard to apply for farm work, and are temporary anyways except for instant 5x5x5 excavation (which is a bit big for farming). \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Feb 9 at 0:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stupidstudent I'm not clear on whether or not the Earth Elemental's burrowing is accomplished through Earthglide exclusively or if they have a tunneling option. I'd bet that the elemental would have some relevant, useful knowledge or intuition regardless. \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Feb 9 at 1:23

The 'easiest' way to do so would be to create a magic item based on the GoodBerry spell. this spell creates from nothing 10 berries that can sustain a creature for a day. Creating a magic item that casts this spell an unlimited amount of time. In that way, for the cost of one magic item you can create enough food for 144,400 people a day. Even with some inefficiencies (berries must be consumed in 24 hours) you can still feed a lot of people.

We can even make some adjustments to reduce the rarity of the item, such as making it gigantic (e.g. a Goodberry Fountain that can't realistically be moved from the middle of the town). I can't find a good source on figuring out rarity of new magic items, but what this has going for it is that it is a first level spell effect.

If we were to go by 3.5 rules, which did thoroughly codify things pretty well, we end up with a cost of about 2000gp (equivalent to a +1 weapon). There's already an example of this item, the Sustaining Spoon, which costs 5400gp, but which only feeds four people. 3.5 had some notoriously broken magic item pricing. In my opinion, this item would end up being an uncommon magic item. It is 'powerful' but it isn't particularly useful to a player, especially if you made it immovable.

If you are wanting food for export, then you're probably better off using the GoodBerry Fountain to feed your people and using the farmland for cash crops.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think OP is looking for homebrew solutions here. Is there a way to do this fully within the rules of 5e and not 3.5? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 8 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was using 3.5 to get a rough cost basis to compare rarity. You could also find/hire 3600 lvl 1 druids and accomplish the same thing, it's just more expensive (though probably cheaper than casting higher level spells). \$\endgroup\$ – Marshall Tigerus Feb 8 at 17:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer made me thing of a horrified town leader realizing, one day, that Soylent Green is Goodberries! 😮 \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 8 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ The whole town is fed by mysterious bottles of red juice called Goob. \$\endgroup\$ – Marshall Tigerus Feb 8 at 17:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarshallTigerus +1 (or + any)magic weapons, and specifically swords, are a foundational element of the swords and sorcery genre, epic and legenday blades (like Roland's Durandal, Arthur's Excalibur, the Singing Sword, Narsil, Gil Gilad's spear Aeglos, and so on). Accusing them of being a spell emulation is actually a backwards fit. The spell showed up to emulate a magical weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 9 at 20:37

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