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Real Life Farmville

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the social-harvesting dept.

United Kingdom 117

arkenian writes "The BBC reports on a farm in the UK to be run by online subscribers to the MyFarm website voting on which crops to grow and livestock to rear. For a £30 annual fee, 10,000 farm followers will help manage Wimpole Home Farm, in Cambridgeshire. They will be asked to make 12 major monthly decisions during the course of the year as well as other choices. The National Trust says its MyFarm project aims to reconnect people with where their food comes from."

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My brain... (0)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36031858)

it hurts with the stupid.

Oh to hell with it. Have we fallen so far as a civilization that people no longer know where their food comes from? Have never seen butchering and slaughtering done? Have never killed an animal themselves, skinned, cleaned, and done their own cuts. I can probably answer myself too. Yes to all of the above.

Re:My brain... (2)

WonderingAround (2007742) | more than 3 years ago | (#36031908)

Yes it's epicly stupid, but you have to admit if there's at least a few trolls involved this farm could get really interesting.

Re:My brain... (2)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#36031978)

My thoughts exactly, as soon as /b/ gets involved, this is gonna be pretty funny. Pool's closed due to aids.

Re:My brain... (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032280)

As if the average /b/ denizens would/could pony up £30

Re:My brain... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36032578)

With all the credit card info they allegedly stole from Sony, they should have no problem. =P

Re:My brain... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033560)

/b/ isn't all hate and lulz. Maybe they will vote to farm lolcats or something.

Re:My brain... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36032062)

hmmm... raise goats and fuck them.

Re:My brain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36033434)

Yes it's epicly stupid, but you have to admit if there's at least a few trolls involved this farm could get really interesting.

RTFA. "[Subscribers] will be asked to make 12 major monthly decisions during the course of the year as well as other choices. The options put to members will be within parameters dictated by climate, legislation, and the requirements of the environmental stewardship scheme which the farm is signed up to, as well as the heritage protection given to the estate."

Even if a stupid idea somehow snuck through, do you honestly think they would just do whatever the people voted for, without concern for the consequences? Farm worker Jones isn't gonna hit himself in the head with a shovel repeatedly even if that's what voters want. Those actually running the farm aren't mindless automata.

They do anticipate people being silly, too: "But [National Trust director general Dame Fiona Reynolds] said she was sure that there would be some "wacky" ideas proposed by subscribers. "We're entering into it very much as an experiment," she added."

And of course... do you really think that a) the average 13-year old, basement-dwelling b-tard would shell out 30 quid to be able to try and mess with this, and that b) enough of them would do so to have an appreciable impact on the decisions? Dream on.

It's also worth noting, BTW, that the whole thing isn't entirely new: "[The project] was partly inspired by the online Facebook game Farmville and follows the example of Ebbsfleet Football Club which is run on a similar basis. Decisions about the running of the team in Kent has been in the hands of MyFootballClub subscribers since 2008."

Y'all's comments about how it's never gonna work out and how it's such an epically stupid idea are about three years late.

I thought this was a good idea.. (3, Interesting)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032006)

What? I personally thought this was a great idea to build upon. In the country I come from, there is a huge economic gap between the farmers who live in the villages, and the consumers in the metropolitan cities. The government tries to subsidize the farmers by giving them money and infrastructure, but it's just not enough.

If social experiments in Facebook, Twitter and Anonymous have shown us anything, it is that the general public likes to participate in making major decisions (which makes then feel important), and are willing for this. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

However, it is crucial that the trolls be weeded out by some means.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032098)

It is a win-win situation for everyone.

Win? Except for the real-life farm which will go under fast (if not subsidized from, say, education funds)

However, it is crucial that the trolls be weeded out by some means.

You mean: weed-out the un-educated (in the subject of agri-business)? Weed them out and the experiment is pointless.

If social experiments in Facebook, Twitter and Anonymous have shown us anything, it is that the general public likes to participate in making major decisions (which makes then feel important), and are willing for this.

Hell, yeah. I remember a few years back, the White House/UK govt set up some sites for "public participation", meant for the populace to suggest reforms they'd see as high priority. I can't remember now the sites, but I do remember that one of the highest ranked idea in US was "legalize drugs", while the UK suggested to repel the gravitation law.
After that, the economic crisis set in... and Wikileaks inoculated the idea that the "raw data" fed by the "open govt" initiatives may not be that relevant as they'd like us to believe.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (0)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032144)

... repel the gravitation law.

Ummm... didja mean repeal, or was that a deliberate poke at semantics?

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032204)

... repel the gravitation law.

Ummm... didja mean repeal, or was that a deliberate poke at semantics?

Sincerely - a typo. But it turned well in the context, didn't it?

Re:semantics (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033674)

The other poster wanted to *weed out* the *farm* trolls.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

edbosanquet (729289) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032150)

Win? Except for the real-life farm which will go under fast (if not subsidized from, say, education funds)

Umm... It is subsidized by 300,000 pounds (~$500,000 in my head) a year by enrollment fees. Secondly, I'm sure the person running the farm can rig the voting system to keep out the really bad decisions. I'm pretty sure options will be much more along the lines of "Should we use organic fertilizer or standard fertilizer?" not things like "Should we burn down all the crops tomorrow?"

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032172)

I'm pretty sure options will be much more along the lines of "Should we use organic fertilizer or standard fertilizer?" not things like "Should we burn down all the crops tomorrow?"

Hence why it s described as being like Farmville and not like the Sims...

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (5, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032466)

Or "what should we plant". I can see it now. Survey says:

  • 42% — pot
  • 25% — corn
  • 15% — rice
  • 13% — ragweed
  • 5% — [name of unpopular local politician]

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36033340)

5% â" Bush

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36034088)

Don't forget Robert.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032626)

With all those hippies out there, choices like "should we do everything purely biological, ecological and some other buzz-words" or "should we use standard farm practice" would give equally destructive results, but with a nice educational message to it.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (2)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033100)

I'm not so sure. I think those hippies are likely to vote against standard farm practices (which are pretty destructive, at least where I live).

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36035806)

I'm pretty sure options will be much more along the lines of "Should we use organic fertilizer or standard fertilizer?" not things like "Should we burn down all the crops tomorrow?"

What with this and the whole "not forcing farm worker Jones to hit himself over the head repeatedly with a shovel" post above, I'm really failing to see the attraction.

If you want to work on a real farm, go ahead, most farmers I know would accept a few volunteers paying 30 quid to shovel cowshit or something.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032268)

30 pounds times 10,000 participants is 300,000 GBP a year on subscription fees alone. That should help a lot.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (3, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032614)

30 pounds times 10,000 participants is 300,000 GBP a year on subscription fees alone. That should help a lot.

If I'm not seeing that my suggestions are set in practice (but overridden by the majority), why would I pay for it? Isn't the "Virtual Farmville" good enough, as it doesn't required any money, etc?
If I'm seeing the results of my decision set in practice and succeeding... I'd ask for my share and be quite disappointed if I don't get it. After all, this is how the "virtual Farmville" tough me to expect - some gold, the more the merrier even if it is "virtual gold".
If I'm seeing the results of my decision set in practice and failing... not very satisfying for a game. Should I pay for it?

Or are you saying that this is actually a scam to finance a farming operation?
Or some sort of a reality show in which the agro-business is put 24/7 on display in to be delivered in daily installments (some sort of "Big brother" with pigs, cows and veggies and other crops) - if so, where's the fun?

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032872)

If I'm seeing the results of my decision set in practice and failing... not very satisfying for a game. Should I pay for it?

Playing a game where you can possibly lose is not fun? Hmmm I now see why the game industry has moved towards games that baby you through the experience and have no consequences.
No risk no reward.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (2)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033192)

No, playing a game where your input may or may not at all be linked to what happens is not fun.

one of the reasons why i dislike online games (except for with friends), in general other people online tend to mess up your experience. AI bots written by the developer are at least well behaved enough to somewhat conform to the game setting

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033456)

I know it'll fail. You know it'll fail. The game designers know it'll fail.

Is there no value in showing that farming is not as easy as playing a computer game?

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033882)

Well in Farmville, it doesn't say "it's too wet this spring to plant your corn in time to harvest, all your surplus cash is going to the bank to keep from defaulting on the 1/2 million dollars of debt your servicing so go to DSS and get some food-stamps so the kids can still eat, but your neighbor who planted winter wheat is having a bumper-crop!"

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36035854)

30 pounds times 10,000 participants is 300,000 GBP a year on subscription fees alone. That should help a lot.

How many Jaguars does a farmer need? Surely one for himself, one for his wife, and one for his mistress is enough?

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (3, Interesting)

testadicazzo (567430) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032882)

I find it dismal how effectively you, and others in this thread have been brainwashed with anti-democratic sentiment.

You mean: weed-out the un-educated (in the subject of agri-business)? Weed them out and the experiment is pointless.

Here, in the case of running a farm, it makes a certain amount of sense to value experience, and education in farming. A great many people however would characterize farmers as being uneducated in a broad sense. Still, an "uneducated" farmer will likely make better farming decisions than your average physicist, lawyer, doctor, political scientist, computer programmer, etc etc.

On the other hand, considering there is a buy into the program, it might be reasonable to assume that only people with an interest in farming will take place. In that case they might take the effort to educate themselves into the real life consequences. In such a situation crowd sourcing might be effective.

One failure you make in thinking is your unquestioned assumption that educated people make better decisions than uneducated people. In the case of farming, a good farmer will probably make better decisions than a non-farmer, but from your language it's clear that you have an elitist, anti-democracy attitude which I would like to attempt to disabuse.

Consider for example the jelly bean experiment. If you take a jar of jelly beans and ask people to guess the number of jelly beans in the jar, the average guess will converge toward the actual number of jelly beans in the jar. The more people participating in the experiment the better. You won't get a better distribution by restricting yourself to people with PhD's.

Your elitist attitudes also require you to neglect the fact of association bias. Individuals who are successful within a given society, who have the largest share in the bounty of that society, tend to associate themselves most with that society, and are most inclined to support whatever policies, however idiotic and injust. A clear example from our own history is support for the Vietnam war, which was very strong among educated elites. The "uneducated" masses however were strongly against America's mass bombing of poor agrarians in a small country that never did us no harm. The "educated" elite bought into the Gulf of Tonkin incident and turned into bloodthirsty savages willing to blast poor farmers who wanted nothing more than to get rid of colonialist oppression (much as we had done some 175 years earlier). The "uneducated" masses were mistrustful and thought it was all a line of bullshit. The "uneducated" masses in America were educated to the fact that the really elite in our country were thinking only of their own selfish and short sighted interests, while the "educated" were trained in sophisticated methods of rationalization to excuse a foolish and evil misadventure. This trend applies quite generally, to our invasion of the bay of pigs, the Afghan war, the Iraq wars, the civil rights movement, etc. It's not unique to American culture either. It's a pretty uniform trend. The high ranking Nazis were typically very well educated, for example, and look how that turned out.

It is telling and ironic that you ridicule the fact that the single highest issue in the United States, when the government asked for reform ideas, was the repeal of Marijuanna prohibition. Legalizing drugs in general was of course discussed, but ending all drug prohibition across the board remains a fringe issue and was nowhere near the top. Ending Marijuanna prohibition and replacing it with a system of taxation and regulation similar to what we do with Tobacco was however right at the top, by far in the number one place. This is yet another example of where American policy would benefit from more democratic processes. The current system of Marijuanna prohibition is completely retarded and does not serve the interests of anyone besides the law enforcement community, paramilitaries, and of course the illegal drug cartels. Every credible analysis, from the Rockafeller study in NY, to Nixon's drug panel in the 60's, to Milton fucking Friedman agree that prohibition is completely counterproductive. The fact that the result of Alcohol prohibition in America are identical to the results of Marijuanna prohibition now -- increased use, increased crime, increased violent crime, increased corruption, decreased control, decreased access for help to people with problems (in short uniformly and unequivocally bad) -- this fact is apparently clear to the "uneducated" masses, but the educated elite have been trained with sophisticated counter arguments, which allow themselves to deny the obvious.

To justify democracy and democratization of decision making does not require the refutation of every instance where it ends badly. Rather it is only necessary to show that democratic decision making is, on average, much better than the alternatives. There are likely exceptions where non-democratic policies are preferable, but the burden of proof should be placed on showing the superiority of the non-democratic policy. Regardless of this, I would like to comment on the one example you give that does have some merit: the UK result that people suggest the repeal of the law of gravity... This is clearly a joke. Given the overwhelming evidence that democratic process are one the average far superior, the result that such an obvious joke came out the winner in the UK experience should be interpreted as an indictment of UK democracy. This response does not show a lack of intelligence or judgement in the responders, it shows contempt, disdain and distrust for the democratic institutions in place. Put simply, the UK isn't any more democratic than the U.S., people know it, and they show their frustration with a joke. No surprise, and it shows the wisdom of the crowds.

It will be interesting to see what the results of this experiment are. It should be remembered however that the goal of the experiment is not to run a successful farm, the goal is to provide a learning experience for those participating. The experiment will be successful, in my mind, if a few elitist assholes come out with a little more respect for people who may not have academic degrees, but are knowledgeable at growing food, which is certainly useful expertise that is undervalued in our society.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033204)

> the wisdom of the crowds

Yep, thought as much. *plonk*

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36034200)

You make some good points. However, the reason that legalizing marjuana scored so highly on the "open gov" site set up by the government in the U.S. was because groups associated with promoting legalizing marijuana "trolled" the site to push that issue. That doesn't mean that legalizing marijuana is a bad idea (my opinion on that switches back and forth over time), it just means that people who want marijuana legalized made a concerted effort to get the idea to poll highly on the site, some of the tactics used were calculated to make the issue appear to have greater support than it actually does.
As to your main point, you are correct that there are several studies that show that if you get a group to make a decision in a manner where the charisma of individual members is prevented from influencing decisions the group has a tendency to make better decisions than any other decision making system.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36035906)

On the other hand, considering there is a buy into the program, it might be reasonable to assume that only people with an interest in farming will take place.

If you have to pay to join in and can't win any money back, I can assure you that no real life farmers will be involved.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (2)

timbo234 (833667) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032912)

The UK petitions aren't really that bad, this is the list sorted by how many signatures they got:
http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/list/closed?sort=signers [number10.gov.uk]

The most popular is scrapping the vehicle tracking/road pricing scheme, which AFAIK has now been scrapped.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (2)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032418)

Maybe the game could use a few modern twists and get people prepared for things they haven't given enough thought to. Got some radio-iodine in the milk? The half-life is short. Why not process it into powdered milk and store it until there's no longer a problem? Could farmers or the department of agriculture use cloud seeding to cause pollution to be dumped in a lower impact area like over the ocean? Could some keep hay in reserve to feed the cows with in case the pasture areas get contaminated for a little while? If farmers got more behind product testing, wouldn't they be less likely to have competitors cheating with melamine?

If animals are fed diets that promote higher acidity and nastier strains of pathogens, crowding promotes spread of pathogens, and heavy use of antibiotics has made resistant pathogens more common, shouldn't the "good" farmers be pushing for more transparency leading to public outcry that helps push desirable reforms?

Does the pubic have an accurate picture of potential dangers? Can a game help make life better?

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110505p2g00m0dm005000c.html [mainichi.jp]

Should farmers have plans to evacuate their cows under bad conditions? Should information have been withheld to keep them and others more calm? Could they have been keep calm while being fully informed?

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110504p2a00m0na005000c.html [mainichi.jp]
earlier report
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110504004563.htm [yomiuri.co.jp]

What can farmers and others do to deal with soil problems?

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110422004322.htm [yomiuri.co.jp]
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/editorial/T110412005529.htm [yomiuri.co.jp]
pdf on dealing with salt in soil
http://www.fao.org/ag/tsunami/docs/saltwater-guide.pdf [fao.org]

Is farming and other industry impacting farming regulated by the right people?
http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/68-elite-bureaucrats-land-power-company-jobs-over-50-yrs [japantoday.com]

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032474)

there is a huge economic gap between the farmers who live in the villages, and the consumers in the metropolitan cities. The government tries to subsidize the farmers by giving them money and infrastructure, but it's just not enough.

The subsidies will never be enough. Drop them and force the farmers to run their businesses efficiently and competitively. They'll hurt for a couple of years, but in the long run they'll be much better off.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032652)

...up to the point where importing food from poor countries will be so much cheaper that the local farmers simply cannot compete.
There is a reason for those subsidies, and you have to understand what the consequences will be of stopping those subsidies.
You are right on a global scale; dropping subsidies will make the average farms in the entire world more profitable but wrong on a local (national) scale.
It's still debatable whether subsidies are good or bad, though.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032840)

This is what the farmers will tell you, because they have grown accustomed to their handouts and can't imagine competing on a level playing field any more. The fact is that fresh produce is best when it is fresh, and flying things halfway around the world wipes out any benefit from low labour costs. And poor countries tend to be poor because they do not have enough fertile, unpopulated land to make decent export earnings from. New Zealand dropped its subsidies in the 1980s in line with free trade agreements which their trading partners later reneged on. The agriculture economy moved within a few years from a distorted economy that produced far more wool and butter than the world needed, to a more diverse agricultural economy that favoured higher profit margin products which constantly adapts to market conditions.

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36036100)

The fact is that fresh produce is best when it is fresh, and flying things halfway around the world wipes out any benefit from low labour costs.

Most people value low price over quality/taste/freshness. And if there was no profit in producing food and flying it half way round the world, why would anyone do it?
In the UK, New Zealand lamb (as an example of something from the other side of the world) is much cheaper than stuff I buy in the local farmer's market. It doesn't taste as nice, but most people will say "I'd rather our family dinner cost ten quid for meat instead of fifteen or twenty".

Re:I thought this was a good idea.. (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36035964)

In theory it sounds good.

In practice, people don't always know what they want in the first place, or stick to their stated intention once it's time to actually go through with it. Additionally, there's no way to ensure that the voting sample is in any way representative of the buying public, which could leave the farm with a glut of unsellable product.

Re:My brain... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032032)

it hurts with the stupid.

None of us is as dumb as all of us [despair.com] . Wanna proof? How about the last economical crisis?

Re:My brain... (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032126)

Anyone who cares about what goes into their body should watch the excellent documentary Food Inc
Its us-centric but I bet a lot of what is talked about happens to some degree in other countries too.

Re:My brain... (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032256)

Why should that be anything but a fringe function? It's like asking if they've never plowed their own wheat, written their own operating system, or installed their own plumbing and electricity. The complexity of our civilization requires specialization.

Re:My brain... (1)

WhiteDragon (4556) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032592)

Why should that be anything but a fringe function? It's like asking if they've never plowed their own wheat, written their own operating system, or installed their own plumbing and electricity. The complexity of our civilization requires specialization.

And yet, human beings are capable generalists. For many things, a generalist's non-specialized abilities are sufficient. For instance, I'm a Linux Sysadmin. Fairly specialized, but it's not the only thing I do. I also drive a car, fix things around the house, make informed decisions, etc. While I personally haven't done every item on Lazarus Long's list (I've never set a bone, for instance), I feel like I could do them if needed. Maybe not as well as an expert in that field, but still.

Re:My brain... (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36037168)

People should be able to do the things likely to be required of them in life, including the 1% chance necessities.
Setting a bone is a good example: That's a rarely needed skill. Should everyone really know how to set it? Or, should we learn to ensure that medical help is available instead (something much easier to learn, and more generally applicable ... because if you have a crush injury, for example, having made medical help available you are good, but having learned to set a bone, you are screwed.)

Butchering a hog (equivalent to what the parent suggested) is similar. You'd be talking downfall of civilization before that would be needed by most people, who would then actually be better off having learned other skills with that time.

Re:My brain... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033500)

Because it's what most humans have done, for millenia? Food growing is who humans are, it's what separates us from the animals. And because NOT having any idea where food comes from is dangerous as people just think Chilean sea bass just comes from the store. Or worse, don't think about it at all.

Specialization is for insects.

Re:My brain... (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36037092)

The current farm process looks nothing like what people have done for millenia. And people have been making clothes for longer, should we all be expert seamstresses? Demanding that everyone should know all the details of how to farm is ridiculous.

Re:My brain... (3, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032260)

And many children think milk comes from factories, not cows. Particularly those living in cities.

Western societies have it worse than Asian. Well, sort of. In China many restaurants have their food on display: various birds, snakes, fish and other sea animals, turtles, sometimes even dogs and cats.You point out which animal you want and they'll cook it for you. Killing if you prefer can be done under your watch.

Markets here often have large parts of cows, pigs and other large animals hanging on display. Such as complete rib cases, lungs, and tails (with the skin and hair in place preferably). The heads too. It doesn't need much fantasy to see which part of the animal it was.

Fowl like pigeons, ducks and chickens are also sold alive (though in Hong Kong at least that's quickly disappearing over bird flu fears). You choose the animal, hands-on if you like, the shop keeper will slaughter it while you're waiting. Fish, seafood and turtles are also routinely sold alive. I have had a dead fish jump off the kitchen sink an hour or so after being killed and gutted... that scared us mainly because the movement was so sudden and unexpected. A dead fish still jumping in the bag I've had quite often.

In the west indeed there is not much left of the original shape of the animal - many people dislike the idea of seeing what animal it used to be. You won't see a row of pig's heads in the butcher's display, for example. Fish is commonly sold dead, preferably sliced or processed as fish fingers or so. The head is typically tossed out, while the Chinese consider that the best part of the fish. Once when I cooked fish complete with head and tail a friend commented "I don't like my dinner to be watching me!".

So all in all, yes you're totally right. Most people don't know where their food comes from. They wouldn't know how a potato plant looks like (OK that's a non-obvious one). They may recognise corn plants, when grown full.

Knowing where one's food comes from is good I think. Makes people think more about their planet, the value of a clean environment, and how all that dirt we spew out in the air comes back to haunt them quite directly. Health is related to food: you are what you eat, and when you eat dirt, well that can't be too healthy either. And even if just 10,000 people can join a project like this may well generate a lot more general interest. Curious to see how it's going to play out.

Re:My brain... (0)

mini me (132455) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032648)

And many children think milk comes from factories

And they would be right. Milk must be processed before it may be sold, at least in my jurisdiction. You don't say a car comes from the mine.

Interestingly, as a software developer and farmer, I actually had a similar idea a while back. I just hadn't fully fleshed out the business model. I wonder if there is still room for competition?

Re:My brain... (0)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36034122)

In the U.S., we also have a corrosive gun culture. Not because people hunt, but because they want murder to be easy.

And sure, many hunters don't do their own butchering, but the majority do field dress their kills.

And fishing? No one ever fishes.

Re:My brain... (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#36036148)

You're correct about the animals, though the reason for it is hygiene. How does Hong Kong manage to transport and 'store' live animals?

However, maybe the USA is different, but fresh fish in the UK is often displayed whole (and dead). (fish counter at Tesco [blogspot.com] ) However, the fishmonger will be happy to cut off the head and tail and remove the bones. It's usually particular species of fish that are shown whole (e.g. salmon), while others are usually prepared (e.g. cod).

Top hit for "fish recipe" on Google UK [jamieoliver.com]

Re:My brain... (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36036356)

You're correct about the animals, though the reason for it is hygiene. How does Hong Kong manage to transport and 'store' live animals?

Fish and other seafood are easy: stored in smallish water tanks with serious aeration devices. Transport in open barrels on the back of a truck (those trucks always have some tubes running down the back to drain spilled water). They don't have to worry too much about livable environment for the fish, as long as they're moving by the time they're sold it's enough.

Chickens and other fowl are simply kept in metal cages, usually stuffed really full. The birds have barely any space to move. Food/water generally not provided, again the animals just have to survive the time to slaughter.

Turtles and frogs are normally kept in nets, presumably transported that way too.

Restaurants will usually provide more space per animal, as that makes for better display.

Hygiene is an issue indeed, and is exactly why the sale of live fowl is going down. The Hong Kong government a few years ago bought back the license of many live chicken stall holders, seriously reducing the number of traders. Newer stalls are completely enclosed in transparent walls, the customer can not put their hands on the live birds. It was the practice that customers can inspect and select their own chicken, which I think is part of the reason selling them live was so popular. And nowadays live chicken sellers must close their stall one day a month for cleaning - all markets operate 7 days a week here.

Re:My brain... (1)

Spaseboy (185521) | more than 3 years ago | (#36036626)

And many children think milk comes from factories, not cows.

Can't it be both?

Re:My brain... (2)

WhiteDragon (4556) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032562)

it hurts with the stupid.

Oh to hell with it. Have we fallen so far as a civilization that people no longer know where their food comes from? Have never seen butchering and slaughtering done? Have never killed an animal themselves, skinned, cleaned, and done their own cuts. I can probably answer myself too. Yes to all of the above.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
        -Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love (Robert Heinlein)

Re:My brain... (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032632)

Oh to hell with it. Have we fallen so far as a civilization that people no longer know where their food comes from? Have never seen butchering and slaughtering done? Have never killed an animal themselves, skinned, cleaned, and done their own cuts. I can probably answer myself too. Yes to all of the above.

All the activities you listed are things most of us could learn to do with just a little training. Poorly, perhaps, but sufficiently well.Those skills are not what will make or break a post-apocalyptic survival.

Re:My brain... (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032960)

No they're skills that will make or break you getting to the post-apocalyptic bit. But being a realist, I don't believe we'll be heading to that point in my lifetime.

Re:My brain... (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032836)

Surely the very definition of civilisation is founded on the idea that everyone is not an island unto themselves? We don't all have to have an extensive understanding and experience of every single thing that takes place for society to function. Obviously it helps if we have a basic understanding, otherwise people are afraid of things they don't understand, or open to their ignorance being manipulated.

Re:My brain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36032992)

Have never seen butchering and slaughtering done? Have never killed an animal themselves, skinned, cleaned, and done their own cuts.

Why would anyone even have to do that anymore?

Re:My brain... (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033190)

Well, that's what industrialization does. You can't expect a civilization to both become efficient enough to mass-produce digital computers and keep food production so local that many people have seen agriculture outside of a picture book. It is interesting and useful to know how food is produced, but so is a detailed knowledge of physics, a multitude of foreign languages and circuit design - yet none of that is considered a required part of common knowledge.
Sure, you can make a case that survival skills are the only essential ones if civilization collapses, but the other ones are just as essential to keep it from collapsing or to rebuild it if it does.

we know now better than ever (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033262)

we know now better than ever where our food comes from.

much better than anyone knew 30 years ago, and so much better than anyone knew 100 years ago - we even got pictures from the spice fields in india, imagine that, we can take a car and go see the local farms if we want to and to top it off the news is full of real stories about real shit about food - read a newspaper from 1950's and see the difference. Except the really poor farmers of the world, they know their food comes from their crops, but they have no idea where the supplements they take come from though(spices, fruits they don't grow themselfs, preserved ingredients they need for cooking like yeast and so forth).

but how many people could that farm in theory even feed?
what this farm is looking is 300 000£ in extra funding. it's not going to provide food for the followers. and they decided that they'll have 10 000 subscribers, which kind of makes sharing your farmville account with 10 000 others, wouldn't that be sweet? what happens is that they can and will manipulate the voting and 10 000 is enough that the votes will spread to some 'sensible' suggestion that they give. I doubt they're going to plant just carrots for a year and a second year of farming rabbits even if it got played to be the top choice.

Re:My brain... (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033296)

I for one would find that very educational. In Germany they did just that. [spiegel.de]

Re:My brain... (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033884)

That's because we live in a post-Deliverance [moviemobsters.com] era.

it hurts with the stupid.

Oh to hell with it. Have we fallen so far as a civilization that people no longer know where their food comes from? Have never seen butchering and slaughtering done? Have never killed an animal themselves, skinned, cleaned, and done their own cuts. I can probably answer myself too. Yes to all of the above.

Re:My brain... (3, Informative)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 3 years ago | (#36034038)

I think everyone should see this at least once: http://vimeo.com/22077752 [vimeo.com] Shows how proper butchering is done and where our food comes from.

Re:My brain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36034978)

Possum Living [youtube.com] is a throwback but a refreshing take on self sufficient living.

National Trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36031874)

Aren't these people broke?

Re:National Trust (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36031988)

I think that's why they're charging people 30 bucks to manage their farm for them. Now they're making profit on the crops and public stupidity.

Farm by committee? (2)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#36031880)

I really don't see how this can be a good idea. Trying to accomplish anything by letting it be managed entirely by what's essentially an unaccountable committee group is going to end in ruin. But hey maybe that doesn't really matter. Getting 300k euro + what ever government subsidies farmers in the UK get my be worth totally fsking your productivity and crop output.

Re:Farm by committee? (2)

edbosanquet (729289) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032164)

I think the manager of the farm will have strong control over the options available on the 12 decisions a month. 300k pounds a year could really convince me to put a question out like "What color should we paint the barn?" or "Should we plant 15 or 20 acres of x crop?"

It's called collaborative software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36034346)

There are tons of projects [metagovernment.org] making it possible to run a community through collaborative software.

Re:Farm by committee? (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032258)

The UK is not part of the Eurozone [wikipedia.org]
So it'll be british pounds (GBP) not Euros.

Also, the problem with the idea is not that the crops will fail, but that nobody will want to pay 30 GBP just to be able to vote with 9,999 other guys. There already are elections which are free (as in beer), and even for that most just give a pass.

Re:Farm by committee? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032272)

Even more than that: 300k GBP. That's almost 340k Euro.

Kibbutz (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032628)

I thought the Kibbutz method was fairly successful until the seventies? It still is, there's just less of a committee thing going on.

Re:Farm by committee? (1)

ghrom (883027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032798)

That's democracy for you :)

Re:Farm by committee? (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033424)

You missed the part where this is done by the national trust. An organisation that exists to give the average person access to national treasures such as stately homes and great countryside that would otherwise be inaccessible to the average joe. It's well within their remit of opening up the countryside to the people to do a project such as this to get people involved in farming. It's not about making money or being successful in any real measurable way as long as people are interested and involved.
The money for the NT comes from people having subscriptions (I pay about £70 a year for my partner and myself), tickets to go to the attractions and donations (Often people leave things in their will to the NT, many of the properties the NT runs were left to the NT in wills because they wanted to public to enjoy it and/or there was no family money left to carry on running the property. To my knowledge no government money goes to the NT, and this project will be funded entirely by the subscribers to the project so it's their money to do with as they please. I really don't see the problem

Re:Farm by committee? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36034952)

Yup pretty sure they figured that they could run the farm on the 300k, and figured any proceeds from produce is just gravy.

agri-business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36031890)

I never thought my agbusiness degree would come in useful as a linux sysadm.

Baa a a a aa a aah (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36031938)

It will never work

It's already been done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36031958)

http://www.thepeoplesclub.com/

new rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36031996)

New rule, nobody is allowed to discuss or post about Farmville on Slashdot.

Agreed? Good.

Even if it fails... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36032008)

it may give people more of an appreciation to the farmers their lives depend on, and the not-so-clean-cut decisions they have to make throughout the year to produce the best crop possible.

That'll work just awesome until... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032124)

... the citydwellers - with their antibiotic EVERYTHING, who can't tell the difference between good and bad soil from the smell of it, who have never grown anything past that shriveled Venus fly trap plant at age ten - start having to make critical decisions and invariably wind up making them badly and then start going hungry.

(What I'm saying is that if they really want something like that to be educational it has to directly impact the participants' stomachs, there has to be visceral conseqeunces; short of that it's still just a game.)

Re:That'll work just awesome until... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032224)

Yes because one small farm failing causes everybody to starve.

Re:That'll work just awesome until... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032494)

It does if they "live" on it and that's all the natural resources they control. Historically that was always a very real possibility for farmers. The point was to help people understand and appreciate, remember?

Oh, come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36035162)

This is Wimpole Hall we're talking about (it's the largest house in the entire county, which is roughly the same size as Rhode Island), not some peasantry where they actually lived off the farm. The farm was one of the last things built on the estate - 150 years after the house! The owners did not live off the farm - the people who worked it probably did, but there's no way they controlled any resources...

been there done that: abc.net.au ran a cotton farm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36032140)

the ABC rural programme down under ran a cotton farm from listener feedback, choosing harvest times, types, cropping, organic or pesticide, all the way through to selling the crop.

2-3 years ago.

yawn.

"Real Life"? (2)

Gamer_2k4 (1030634) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032152)

Um...isn't real life Farmville...a farm?

You know, like real life Simcity would be (wait for it) a city.

Re:"Real Life"? (1)

Martz (861209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032932)

Yes and I'm convinced that my local council in the UK uses a copy of Simcity to implement road planning and routes: one way systems, traffic lights, road works, etc.

It's quite obvious the user doesn't have a driving licence or drive in my local area, since the decisions they make are completely insane and illogical from a practical point of view, they just look pretty in Simcity.

Re:"Real Life"? (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033282)

Roads? If I was in charge of your local council, I would bulldoze all your roads, and replace them with light rail.
Sure it would be more expensive, and how you get on and off the train is an exercise left for the commuter, but the nasty traffic problem would simply go away.

Spectacular business model (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36032186)

So, this guy charges 30 pounds/year to allow 10,000 people to chat with each other and vote in polls on how they want to run the farm... while the guy pretends to listen to them?

Holy shit, why didn't i think of this?

You Bought the Farm! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36032206)

I guess this experiment gives new meaning to the term "bought the farm". Unfortunately, it's the plants and animals that will take the brunt of any bad decisions. Please don't have a cow man!

Managers outsourced to subscribers (1)

hajus (990255) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032262)

I wonder how much control can be given to the players. Would they be allowed to make hiring decisions after being shown various resumes? Or firing and promotion decisions? I'm curious if this experiment can make certain class of farm manager redundant if it works really well.

ChaChing! (1)

Choin (2109624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032326)

-Farm owner(s): Hey, what is your favorite [insert category here for something that's in-season) - 10,000 followers [see: a total of £300,000 in additional funding per year]: YAYY! -Farm owner(s): *Grin as they get market data while their subject PAY THEM for the information. This could be a really bad idea, but it'll probably increase their bottom line profit enough to pay their bills and then some.

I aint buying it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36032352)

If it doesn't come with an iPhone app, how progressive could it be?

A replica watch web site I can go buy it? (-1, Offtopic)

shenglee (2112630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032770)

A replica watch web site I can go buy it? http:www.aaawatches.net [aaawatches.net]

Potential problem (1)

frenchbedroom (936100) | more than 3 years ago | (#36032822)

Some of the participants are going to want to eat the produce from "their" farm, in turn neglecting their local farms and burning more fuel to get the goods sent to them, or traveling to the place. Well, it's all in the UK so it's not as bad as buying passion fruit from the other side of the globe, but still. This experiment is a first, so it will be interesting to see what comes out of it.

I think "Pick Your Own" farms are also a good way of reconnecting people to the source of their food. When you're out there in the fields walking, crouching and bending down to pick a couple of tomatoes for yourself you're really thankful that you don't have to do this every day. Then again, same problem : lots of cars driving to the farm, when a couple of trucks going from the farm to the city's market saves more gas.

Re:Potential problem (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033774)

There is a farm, Chestnut Farm, in western MA that raises animals. They work it as a CSA where people sign up for shares with a monthly price, and then they know how much to produce on an ongoing basis (10 lbs increments on shares) and then....

Once a month, at a farmers market, they setup a stand and distribute shares. Usually bringing fresh eggs from a neighboring farm to sell.

They actually have pickups at several local farmers markets on different days.

Rare breeders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36033366)

It's a National Trust farm, so not really a typical agricultural business. I live pretty close by and our village butcher sells Wimpole's rare breeds meat, so these kids are deciding where a small amount of *my* food comes from.

Bloody peasants (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033690)

Will they decide by a simple majority, in the case of purely internal affairs, but require a 2/3 majority in the case of major decisions?

Good for the farm! (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033776)

Good news for the farm, they get £300,000 even if all their crops flop, and since the farm gets to create the choices being voted on, that'll probably be unlikely. Profit ahoy!

iFood (1)

Thing I am (761900) | more than 3 years ago | (#36034128)

We need an app for that.
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