Farmville

Technology-based farming for city people

My friend and fellow anthropologist John McCreery of Word Works told me about a project created by technology corporation NEC called Big Globe. The idea is that Tokyo residents who are interested in farming can participate in planting a small plot in suburban Saitama, and then watch via webcam as their vegetables grow with the aid of a caretaker. They are invited to visit during the growing season and at harvest, but have no responsibility to take care of the plants themselves.

I wonder if the webcam truly connects city people with farming. Big Globe seems like a mixed reality in-between the virtual Farmville, wildly popular on Facebook, and actually growing plants. I realize that many people in the city do not have much land, but as I have documented on this blog, it doesn’t take much space to grow a single plant or even hundreds.

Has anyone tried out Big Globe, or heard about it before? What do you think the role of technology can be in connecting city people with farming and nature more generally?