What is it?
The National Trust has unveiled its new campaign, MyFarm, this week. Members of the charity’s online community will be able to manage its Wimpole Farm, near Cambridge. MyFarm will become the world’s first real-life ‘Farmville’, as an online "farmer collective" of up to 10,000 members will gain behind-the scenes insight into how a 1,200-acre organic farm operates and will vote all year on farming decisions about three key themes: crops, livestock and wider impacts.
How does it work?
Each time a major decision is needed, the Wimpole Farm manager, Richard Morris, will set the context, pose the options on the website, state the pros and cons of each and start an online discussion with the 'farmers' on the website. To help with the decision, the website features resources, including articles, videos, live webchats and comment and opinion from both farming experts and National Trust tenant farmers.
What happens next?
Each farmer will be invited to vote on every question, with the majority decision implemented on the farm so that participants can see the real-life consequences played out. Blogs and webcams will be used to bring the farm to life, capture the changing seasons and show agricultural processes such as sowing, ploughing and harvesting, as well as lambing and calving.
Why is the National Trust doing it?
Jon Alexander, a communications strategist at the trust, came up with the idea for MyFarm. He says: "As the country’s biggest farmer, the National Trust has a very real duty to rebuild the connection between people and food, and we need to find ways of promoting genuine care for the land."
Who’s behind it and how’s it being promoted?
Digital agency Public Zone has developed the concept alongside the National Trust. It will be promoted on specially created Twitter and Facebook pages. A viral video has also been uploaded to YouTube to generate interest in the campaign.
Third Sector verdict:
MyFarm stands out because it is actively inviting members of the public to engage and participate in the campaign rather than just being spectators. Participants will feel involved when they see the real impact their decisions have on the farm and will also have fun as they learn about farming.