FarmVille Becomes Reality

Actual farm in England run by virtual farmers

FarmVille, the 46 million-strong Facebook game sensation, is taking root in the real world. Online users will now manage a large working farm in Cambridgeshire, England, through the FarmVille-inspired MyFarm experiment.

Wimpole Estate Farm, a National Trust property, is at the mercy of online users. They will vote on the farm’s operating decisions, from what type of pig to buy to when to harvest the wheat.

The experiment is an extension of the National Trust’s goal of teaching people about the origins of their food, taking decidedly virtual cues from Zynga’s smash hit FarmVille. Richard Morris, Wimpole Estate Farm’s manager, says the cyber farm hands will not have the type of discretion that allows them "to grow cannabis or bananas." He added, "Undoubtedly there will be some strange decisions, some decisions I would not have made."

A onetime $48 fee (a donation to the National Trust) gives online farmers access to informational blogs and videos, which in turn are used to inform their votes on a wide range of topics. One major vote will happen each month, with the potential for spin-off votes that happen more frequently. Morris says he is expecting a smartphone app in the near future that will allow him to solicit the advice of online users instantaneously.