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Monday, 5 October 2009

Ethical Farmville

I have been playing Farmvile, which is a very addictive farming type game on Facebook for about a month now and am enjoying it very much. It occurs to me though that this is more than just a game, for it could be used as model for good practises in world farming - showing the real farmers how it can and perhaps should be done.

What if everyone were to plant crops and trees that were native only to their own country? This might be a problem for Europeans since most of the crops are designed to grow in an American climate, which is as varied as the country herself, but with a little thought I am sure it could be done. The same with trees - we could refuse or immediately sell, all non native trees that we are gifted and harvest just the native ones, such as apple and apricot. The animals, apart from the baby elephants which harvest ridiculous circus peanuts, are of course farmed in the real world almost everywhere (ivory is farmed in some parts of south-east Asia), so there is no problem there, and as for the orphaned animals, well these could be used as a lesson for children in bullying, which again has been in the news of late. Petting your animals on a regular basis will ensure that they feel loved and appreciated, resulting in a higher yield of better quality.

I admit that I do not follow most of the practises mentioned above, but my partner is endeavouring to, and his farm is thriving, even though he only has five neighbours (I now have twenty five). I may not buy exclusively European crops, but I do like to practise the art of crop rotation - that is, planting different crops each time I sew something, or at least planting them in different areas around the farm. At the moment I have a mixture of water melons, artichokes, squash and egg plants (aubergine to us). The squash and egg plants should be ready later this afternoon, while the water melons and artichokes will take another three days. Of course what I should also do is try and sew seasonal crops - which at the moment I suppose should be root vegetables. I have not got to the necessary level to buy a lot of these as yet, although squash could be considered to be seasonal since it does appear in the supermarkets in the autumn.

It is also good to let your land lie fallow for a while in between crops and not be too eager to make profit - it is after all only a game, and land like people, needs to rest now and then so that it can recover its fertility (shouldn't be a problem with all those animals I have!). My farmer needs to rest too, so I have provided her with a picnic bench and a rest tent so that she can sit back and enjoy eating (and drinking) the rewards of all her hard work. Another reason to sew a varied harvest of crops is of course so that she can enjoy a varied diet, thus maintaining her health and providing her with more energy with which to farm (what was that about it only being a game?!). I have decided that my own farm is organic which will help provide even more nutrients. My animals are also of course free range.

It seems then to me that Farmville is an opportunity to practise what you preach and put all these ethical things into practise. It could be if you like, a model for how we would like our food to be produced, and if the current situation with soil depletion and falling water levels continues in some regions of the world, may be forced to go back to.

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