I bet you didn’t know I’m a farmer, did you? Well, I am. Sort of.
I was lucky enough to be picked by the Mumsnet Bloggers Review team to trial and blog about a very interesting website called My Farm. It’s run in conjunction with the National Trust (who we’ve been members of for years) and is a unique and novel way for people to get involved in the running and management of a real, working farm.
The farm in question is on the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate near Royston in Cambridgeshire and the project is described as “a big online experiment in farming and food production”. To take part, you need to sign up and become a farmer. This costs £30 and includes a voucher for a ‘real life’ visit to the farm. Once you’re signed up you are then given access to all areas of the website including discussions and votes. This is the stage I’m at right now, just finding my way around and picking up bits and bobs of information about the various issues at hand.
My first impressions of the website are very good. It is visually engaging and easy to navigate. There are plenty of photos and videos so you can really see what’s going on and the staff at the farm regularly post on the blog or the discussion area. I was keen to review My Farm as I wanted to help my children (especially M who’s six) to understand more about where food comes from and how complex the process can be. One of the main features of the website is the monthly vote whereby members get to have their say about how the farm is or should be run. The next vote takes place soon and asks us to make a decision about something called ELS which I now know means Entry Level Stewardship. If you’re wondering what that’s all about then let me tell you. As far as I understand, it’s a scheme which ‘encourages farmers in the UK to incorporate environmentally friendly measures into their farm — and pays them for doing so’. Of course that’s a very simplistic overview of the issue, but as a My Farmer it’s up to me to find out more about it via information on the website and getting involved in their discussion forums. So, that’s what I’m going to do.
My initial experience of My Farm is a positive one even if it does make me realise how little I know about farming. There’s lots of scope for developing my (and my daughter’s) knowledge and feels like we’re doing something different.