Thursday, January 12, 2012

MyFarm – Initial Review

Recently I was selected to try out the “MyFarm” concept for a month and review it.  MyFarm is a National Trust project (you will recall I have a lot of great things to say about the National Trust and their properties).  The National Trust has supplied me with a 1-month membership to MyFarm so that I can review it. 

Basically the MyFarm concept is this:  there is a physical farm at Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire and farmers operate the farm.  Through the MyFarm website, members will vote on the decisions and direction that the farm takes.  There is a monthly vote regarding farm operation issues and preceding this vote there is online discussion regarding the various positions.  The goal of the project is to help people think about where food comes from and what farming involves.  I was interested in becoming a part of the project because during my time away from work one of my goals is to cook more “from scratch” food and try local ingredients, in other words, get back to the basics.  I want to think about where my food is coming from and I want to educate my children about what they are eating.

The farm is a mixed-farming operation with crops and livestock and there are many interesting issues for online farmers to consider.  The farm is mostly an organic farm with a newly acquired section that is conventionally farmed.  The website describes the property in detail and provides a map laying out the various areas.  There are lively discussion pages about the various issues, for instance late last year there was a vote about the restoration of certain hedges.  Farmers were provided with history of the area in terms of hedges and a costing and issue list for each choice of hedging (the choices were “Stock Hedges,” “Bio-fuel Hedges,” or “Wildlife Hedges”).  There are various videos and other educational tools on the site for farmers to use to learn about the issue.  In the end, the farmers voted for “Wildlife Hedges” with a 54% majority.

So far, my first impressions on the site and project are this:
  • There seems to be a very enthusiastic community of farmers.  This is good – anything less could threaten the success of the project.
  • The site is incredibly educational whether you are a member or not.  I found myself clicking on links just to see what certain terms meant. 
  • The information on the site is presented in a clear way with many different formats including video, pictures, and text.  There is even a game!
  • I think this will be a good way to engage in food production issues.  I am especially interested to learn more about organic farming and what benefits organic food has (I am tired of the "it's just better" arguments surrounding organic food).
  • I plan to show my older son certain parts of this site as an educational tool.  There are specific links with “teacher content” that I plan to look at with my son.

So far I’m impressed….I will update you as the month goes on.

I am a member of the Mumsnet Blogging Network, a group of parent bloggers picked by Mumsnet to review products, services, events and brands. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retail full editorial integrity.

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