National Trust seeks online farmers
The National Trust is looking for thousands of would-be farmers for an online experiment which will see them make decisions on running a working farm.
The MyFarm scheme, inspired in part by the online farming game Farmville, will involve 10,000 people in the management of Wimpole Home Farm, Cambridgeshire.
National Trust director general Dame Fiona Reynolds said the MyFarm website, which will include video updates, web cams, information about farming and expert opinion, aims to reconnect people with where their food comes from.
For a £30 annual subscription fee, members of the public will make key decisions on the organic farm including which crops to plant, which rare breed bulls to buy and whether to put in measures such as new hedgerows to help wildlife.
They will be given information to help them make 12 major monthly decisions during the course of the year and steer other choices on the 1,200-acre farm. They will also get a family ticket to visit the farm on the Wimpole estate.
Dame Fiona said the scheme is a "brave experiment" for the trust, which claims to be the country's biggest farmer with 200,000 hectares in production, mostly managed by tenant farmers, from lowland arable farms to Snowdonia sheep farming.
"This is all about reconnecting people with where food comes from," she said. "It's all about reconnecting people with farming, giving them the chance to get involved with and feel part of the farming community and farming life - and give them a greater understanding on how the food they eat gets to their shopping basket."
Research for the trust revealed that three-quarters of people quizzed want to know more about how food is produced, and while mothers consider it important children know where food comes from, just 8% felt confident enough to teach them about it.
Another recent poll showed that a quarter of children believed bacon came from sheep and oats grew on trees.
Dame Fiona said: "We have no idea how it's going to work. We're entering into it very much as an experiment". She added that she is sure there will be some unpredictable and "wacky" ideas proposed.