Bandersnatching FarmVille: Flat Earth Farm Design Studio, Phase 1

EXPLORATIONS GALLERY, CAFS Conference 2019

Shihan Liu (video editor), Denise Bonin-Mount (videographer) and Phil Mount (talking head)

Correspondence: denise@flatearthfarm.ca

Stonebridge

How would you design your own Community Farm? What critical elements would you include to shape your community and tackle pressing local issues?

(Watch Bandersnatching Farmville playlist now—or keep reading)

Would you prioritize

  • community health and well-being;
  • ecological or food literacy;
  • engaging the marginalized through animal-human interactions;
  • demonstrating diverse sustainable farming practices;
  • using outdoor activities to expand creative potential;
  • developing social skills, life skills, even job skills?

(Go straight to the videos, or keep reading—your choice!)

The notion of the ‘Community Farm’ is gaining traction and opening possibilities in Canada, but lacks the rich heritage and history of examples in many parts of the world. To uncover some valuable design ideas, and lessons worth sharing, we visited and conversed with the leaders of ten different Community Farms in England—farms whose focus ranged from Care Farming to organic agri-tourism. These farms pushed the boundaries of what was possible, for example blending art, ‘ecotherapy’ and horticultural therapy, and using this as a tool to treat mental trauma.

We are looking for creative ways to put those videos to work in the design of Flat Earth Farm. If we had an unlimited pool of funds and time, we would ask you to Bandersnatch your way through our videos, and in the process your choices—about what you wanted to see happen next—would help us to design our community farm!

Alas, without a Netflix budget, we’re going to ask you to watch these videos and use our comment box to tell us where to go next: what farms, which ideas do you want to explore, know more about? Which examples—of community farms from around the world—would you like to see on the next video? Not exactly Black Mirror, or Farmville for that matter, but branching narrative takes longer at the community scale.

(Watch Bandersnatching Farmville playlist now—or keep reading below for detail of each community farm)

Stonebridge City Farm
Stone Bridge Rd, Nottingham, UK
http://www.stonebridgecityfarm.com

Attributes:

  • 3.5 acre inner-city farm next door to low income residential area
  • cafe employing developmentally disabled individuals
  • free access to the community
  • significant variety of livestock and vegetable production on site

Watch the video

Fordhall Farm
Tern Hill Road, Market Drayton, Shropshire
https://www.fordhallfarm.com/find-us/

Attributes:

  • England’s first community owned farm (charitable community-benefit society)
  • organic for over 65 years
  • free farm trails, organic café, group tours, camping in yurts, educational visits, events, courses, weddings, meeting room space, care farming and volunteering opportunities

Watch the video

Wyldwoods Arts and Rural Crafts Centre
Dean Corner Farmhouse near Broseley, Shropshire
http://www.wyldwoods.co.uk/

Attributes:

  • a Community Interest Company offering unique opportunities in arts and craft, horticulture, cooking, rural skills
  • meets the needs of disadvantaged individuals through meaningful, practical, rural experiences
  • 3 acres includes a Mongolian yurt, adventure trail, meeting areas, a wooden henge and small orchard

Watch the video

Highbury Orchard Community CIC
90 Queensbridge Rd, Birmingham
http://www.peopleandland.org.uk/wp/

Attributes:

  • an orchard community, making a community orchard
  • in a neglected corner of the Highbury estate (formerly Joseph Chamberlain’s Birmingham home)
  • woodland play activities for chidren, Forest School for All Ages with adults, particularly those with mental health, wellbeing, or recovery interests

Watch the video

Five Acre Community Farm
Wolston Lane, Ryton on Dunsmore, Coventry
http://www.fiveacrefarm.org.uk

Attributes:

  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) with regular social events such as bring and share meals, scarecrow building sessions and film shows
  • part of South Warwickshire Local Foods CIC

Watch the video

Jamie’s Farm
Hill House Farm, Ditteridge, Box, Corsham
http://www.jamiesfarm.org.uk

  • combining ‘family, farming and therapy’ for vulnerable children from challenging urban schools
  • enables disadvantaged young people to thrive academically, socially and emotionally
  • a unique residential experience and rigorous follow-up programme

Watch the video

Abbey Home Farm
Burford Road, Cirencester
http://www.theorganicfarmshop.co.uk/farm/

Attributes:

  • former Cirencester Abbey land in same family for 450 years
  • converted to organic production in 1991
  • 650 hectare farm hosts regular educational visits and farm walks

Watch the video