Rossi Mitova, a native Bulgarian and recent business grad, is starting a new online platform called FarmHopping to improve the sustainability of small farms. She’s starting out in her native Bulgaria with a small farm in Kresna called Farm Perun, where her friend recently purchased (read: “adopted,” kind of like those sponsor-a-child infomercials) two sheep.
Users can “purchase” small farms’ animals and choose how they will be used - e.g. milking for cheese or yogurt and so on. At the starter farm, Farm Perun, 250 sheep are up for grabs at 10-15 pounds a month (as well as an upfront fee). Mitova says that FarmHopping will “cover the farm’s production costs, food, and all the labor. They receive a share of what we make on the website.”
Best of all, you can visit the farms you sponsor and see what goes on. They’ve figured out a quasi-tiered system so that if you buy one sheep you can stay for 3 days, if you buy more sheep, you can stay for a week, and so on (and obviously gobble down the milk/cheese/yogurt extravaganza that your animal will supply).
There’s already a large-scale equivalent of this in the U.K. called MyFarm, but I think Mitova’s focus on small family-owned farms is going to have a massive impact on sustainability in rural areas that really, really need the help. It’s FarmVille (*hurk*) with a greater sense of civic responsibility. While I love gaming, I’ve never been the biggest proponent of gamifying EVERYTHING ever, but this made me a little gooey inside.