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My Farm The National Trust

How we used digital to connect an urban audience with farming and food production... and created Farmville for real!

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The Context

The National Trust is much more than a collection of stately homes and tea rooms. As the largest landowner in the UK, it is integral to the agricultural economy of the country and has a key role to play in the debate around sustainable food production. But research shows that urban audiences are increasingly disconnected from the people and processes that put food on their plates… could we use digital to turn that around?

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The Strategy

Our solution? Do Farmville for real! We took a real National Trust property – 2,750 prime agricultural acres on the Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire – and crowd-sourced management of the farm. Anyone who signed up to the MyFarm community could vote on every key decision involved in running the farm: the crops grown, the breeds of animal stocked, the new facilities invested in and the machinery used. A dedicated editorial team, led by farm manager Richard Morris, posted blogs and video content daily, answering questions and informing the debate among the online community. Live video streams helped bring the realities of rural life direct to the desktop – from the springtime fun of LambCam to the death of a newborn shire foal.

The Results

MyFarm was a spectacular success, receiving global press coverage and winning a shelf-full of industry awards. The launch was covered by BBC News, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Mashable. More than 60 per cent of MyFarmers weren’t existing National Trust members – proving the project did indeed reach new audiences, helping to change perceptions about the organisation and reconnecting people with the land and the food they eat.