Farmcraft: Teaching agriculture through esports

People have farmed for thousands of years, yet every growing season brings new challenges. Farmers choose seeds and decide among various techniques. Plow or adopt no-till methods, trap insects or apply insecticides?

The choices farmers make affect their harvests and their farms and help promote food security. Their choices also can affect local biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions and the sustainability of the landscape. All of these factors contribute to the global climate crisis.

Now some creative students are using Farmcraft 2022, an interactive esports experience on the Minecraft video game platform to consider the difficult decisions that farmers face. The experience is drawing thousands of participants from more than 50 countries worldwide.

Participants compete for prizes while discovering the complex relationships that connect farming, food and the environment. Many teams participating are from the U.S. Department of State’s American Spaces network of over 600 cultural and information centers, often located in public libraries and educational institutions, that connect the world to the United States.

Farmcraft allows students to choose everything from their farm’s location in one of five environmental biomes — temperate, rainforest, desert, island and tundra — to whether to spray crops with machines or use a watering can.

Teams can connect and interact with other teams around the world and join livestreamed activities with experts on topics such as water use, pests and agricultural biotechnology.

Farmcraft is also fun. To learn more and play along, visit NASEF Famcraft 2022.

Farmcraft 2022 is open to students ages 8–18. The regular season runs from March 30 to May 6, with extensions possible. Registration for the competition is open until April 20 and includes a free license to access Farmcraft through the end of the season. Students must have an adult sponsor or at least one team member who is 18 years old.

Screenshot of farm landscape in the Farmcraft game (North American Scholastic Esports Federation)
Screenshot of the Farmcraft game (North American Scholastic Esports Federation)

Launched in 2021, Farmcraft is a collaboration of the North American Scholastic Esports Federation and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Agricultural Policy and Office of American Spaces.

The Office of Agricultural Policy aims to bolster food security, enhance the role of women in farming, mitigate climate change and advance climate adaptation.

While Farmcraft‘s top growers win prizes, the program educates students on the challenges of farming in a changing world, fostering informed, environmentally conscious consumers, while also encouraging a new generation of farmers, says Adam Cornish of the State Department’s Office of Agricultural Policy.

“When people know what is happening in the farm and how that food’s actually getting to their plate, everyone benefits,” Cornish said.