Farmville has managed the seemingly impossible: Gotten millions of people around the world obsessed with and deeply involved in farming, albeit in a virtual world. Now it’s time to do the impossible again: Translate that enthusiasm into real world results, letting 10,000 people manage a farm in the UK.
MyFarm is a project of the National Trust which is taking an interesting gamble: No farming experience is required! However, given the number of people who have gotten a taste of the farming life and its complexities via Farmville, it may not be as big a stretch as it may appear initially.
Members will decide what crops are grown, the type of animals, the machinery used and which new facilities should receive investment. It’s not, of course, entirely controlled remotely. Farm manager Richard Morris will be there in person, managing a crew of people to do the real world work that is voted on by members. He’s also the one setting the choice parameters for members.
To give this endeavor an added measure of reality and connection for participants, MyFarm will be creating frequent videos, podcasts, and blogs, along with live video and audio feeds of the farm. Members can also see it in person, with visits included as part of annual membership.
While members ultimately have the final say, decision making will be enhanced by the perspective of those at the farm and other industry experts.
Beyond the novelty of the Farmville meets real world aspect, this is a smart way to keep a farm afloat in the tough times we face. Having an annual base of funding via member fees will provide a much needed financial boost. But the MyFarm model also ensures that there will be 10,000 people deeply enmeshed in the farm’s operations, who care about what’s happening, who have a desire to keep it running. It’s not a leap that members will carry this interest and awareness of their local community into the rest of their lives.
Readers: Where else do you see such real/virtual world interactions helping enhance the sustainability/economic viability of businesses, either happening now, or a candidate for such a thing?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.