By taking a look at human evolution, we quickly notice that food gathering and production – also known as agriculture – has always been an important constant in our daily life, at least for most of our ancestors. With the industrialization of food this changed drastically and disconnected nine out of ten people from the production of the fuel that powers our bodies. Now that our “hunting ground” is the supermarket, we lost that connection with soil, animals, plants, seasons and climate, but also the direct link between labor and income.
As our culture loves to romanticize about what once our nature was, it might seem a paradox that today we play FarmVille in our free time. Ten years ago, people started to virtually plant crops, feed animals and exchange harvest with their digital neighbors. All for the sake of fun, while our food is produced in enormous farm factories hundreds of kilometers away from where we life.
Japanese Company Telefarm took the virtual farming to the next level in order to reconnect with the production of actual physical food. Enkaku Bokujo, or “Remote Farm”, is an online farming simulator that allows its players to rent a piece of virtual land that corresponds to a plot in the real world and lets you grow your own vegetables. By paying around 4.50 $ per square meter a month, you co-work with robotics that re-enact your online click in the physical world. You can then choose to either get the harvest for your own use or sell it to Telefarms vegetable market. To make the online farm more game-like, its creator introduced some challenges to face, such as bug plagues (of course just virtual once), which make the player earn extra coins by dealing good with those kind of situations.
With an ever growing world population and more need for food, we need to reconsider the future of agriculture. Maybe this example gives us an startingpoint to do so.