About a dozen members of my family have enjoyed playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons (ACNH) this summer. I do a bit Animal Crossing farming a bit while others bring their passions for sports teams, cooking, colors and more to bear on their islands.
One of the things that strikes me is how much people enjoy going to see other’s islands…. it’s kind of the way farmers feel about seeing other farms. There are lots of ways to do things and different objectives and personalities have an impact.
Animal Crossing Farm Tour
Farm tours have long been a favorite of mine for a long time. And I couldn’t help but want to do a farm tour of my ACNH farm island.
If you want to skip right to the video, I won’t stop you. That said, despite my printing my map and inking out stops and topics I had to cover, I still missed some things! And if you play and want the how to, you can see that below.
Glad I got the plan down knowing he excitement of a butterfly passing or a neighbor stopping me to spread joy could derail me — so can adrenaline of live video. I didn’t forget too many of the important connections — real or dream-state — that I have noted but I’m going through them all here.
Stops on the Animal Crossing Farm Tour
Typically with a farm tour, you have multiple stops that talk through the various topics that farm has been working through. While I did that in Animal Crossing, I also wanted to compare or connect that to farming in the real world…. the one where weather and pests impact your results way more than this game on a Nintendo!
#1 AC Farm Welcome
Simple enough… most guests to an island arrive through the airport (though Gulliver washes up with the tide, Redd sneaks in on the north beach & some characters magically appear & disappear without airport notifications!)
The tour starts with a bit of background explaining for those who don’t play AC, players arrive on a deserted island and they get to choose how it builds, develops, etc. The human players have no money so spend time learning and doing all of that while also trying to build the island of your dreams. Each island has a couple of other residents at the start and you add more at various growth points. The neighbors are various animals who are totally Googleable to learn personalities, birthdays, preferences in clothing and so much more.
My island (named Suburubia a bit Subaru, a bit Aruba) had pear trees and mums on it when I arrived along with a lot of hardwood trees and weeds. All of those things offer potential…. most also come with strings. I lived in a tent until I was ready to commit to a house and the loan…. the lender is someone who definitely reminds you of payments!
#2 Headed to the Beach!
As you walk around, you see lots of different flowers, some cherry trees and coconuts on the beach. I got all these things through a combination of trade, buying and hard work. And I’m not lying on the hard work!
Seeds and plants can be traded. Family members who had other native fruits, just gave me some and I offered up pears. In the game you get paid multiples for the exotic foods that aren’t local so you are encouraged to diversify quickly.
In real world farming some people find that’s the way to shape their business while others find a focus really helps their profit potential. But the thing of getting paid several times more for something that is just as easy to do once you start… it’s not nearly so clear when you are farming. Markets move around, what people want changes.
For instance, I have some friends growing the latest high tech corn (check out The Farmer’s Life on Facebook and his YouTube channel for cool videos of his corn, wheat, popcorn farm and more) for some markets and others like Brandon Whitt in Tennessee plant those new varieties as well as ancestral lines for other customers.
The ability to grow such a range of things with a clear line between sand and highly productive soil is something I can’t say I’ve even except in dream worlds.
#3 Space & Science on the Farm
My geeky side has seen to including a range of things that most people won’t connect to farming — it’s all very NASA like. I have a crewed rocket, an astronaut suit, a lunar rover, etc. While others may not see any connection, I don’t even have to stretch. Farmer friends worked with NASA more than two decades ago, long before we all had mapping software everywhere we look. and all the really cool space organizations to find technologies that can help us do more with the information & resources we have.
These technologies can help them use water more efficiently, understand where insects are causing damage and so much more!
It also feels like a good time to mention, the night views on the island, like many farms is amazing! So few lights means you can get really dark skies at night. You see so many stars! Lots of them shooting stars too. In fact this weekend I had a meteor shower and usually there is an expert (Celeste the owl) who not only can drop knowledge bombs on you but shares do-it-yourself DIY recipes to create most of the star-related items I have.
And sometimes in the world of farming, there may be some alien life forms…. We definitely hear ideas that don’t seem rooted in our reality. But in my experience, not many farmers claim to have seen actual UFOs.
#4 Gathering & stewarding resources
One of the things people who play animal crossing get used to is collecting resources and turning those into cool things. That’s definitely something farmers do!
I mean, I don’t see many farmers mining iron and turning that into vehicles, BUT I see a lot doing things with wood on their farms, and lots of farmers have to gather up stones and things that surface in fields. And they typically make sure water sources are protected.
As farmers go about their day-to-day, sometimes they turn up really cool discoveries too… like fossils, etc. There are lots of organizations to connect with — that said, they don’t necessarily have a formal museum of all the things they dig up. They more likely have an outdoor museum of old equipment or a few fossils laying around the office. LOL
#5 Flower breeding
I mentioned the island had mums when I got here. in the earliest days, my niece Georgia gave me a bunch of flowers to help make the island nicer, more inviting. I had no idea I would later be conscientiously buying certain quantities of various flower seeds.
For most of the flowers on ACNH, you can buy three or four colors and cross-pollinating and rhizome connectivity can provide cool changes. I’ve been lucky enough to know a real life flower breeder (zinnias) and seen the color explosion in his backyard. It built over time and you couldn’t help but stop and stare.
It’s really so organized…. make sure you have “true seed.” The red trait is dominant, but does it have two copies of that trait? Spacing like one color of a checker board let’s you have more options.
Luckily others did all the work to figure out planting patterns, etc. I used the ACNH flower breeding guide from Popular Mechanics. I had each type of flower in dedicated blocks for a month getting new colors and as new ones sprout, I’d move them to other areas.
Now I have a couple of really focused projects — I really like the blue/lavender hyacinths so want more of those. Also growing more black roses — we’ll see those later.
Reality is plant breedings are doing this with lots of crops! It’s what took the ancestor of sweet corn from a cob the size of my pinky to the big ole cobs we are all enjoying now!
#6 DIY desk
I mentioned some of the characters hand out their DIY recipes have quite a few on the island. Farmers need lots of tools and they typically have them everywhere too. They need something fixed they frequently fix it or know someone who can. And getting really good tools that you use all the time is a thing. My brother was bragging about a shovel that came with his farm…. he’s had it for decades and others he’s bought keep breaking.
#7 Results of Flower Breeding
I’ve had so many different flowers growing in different areas but the roses… wow. I started with red, white & yellow. Now I have pink, purple, orange and black. They really grab your eyes. The mums I wasn’t very keen on but the purple mums (from two white ones) are gorgeous!
Working with so many plant breeders over the years, I have to say diversity is the spice of life! My family sure is a diverse one in so many ways, but I love the diversity of plants, people, animals, etc found on farms too!
#8 The heart of Animal Crossing Farming!
You can see I’ve got a range of plants, some are just for looks and really, don’t we all have some plants in our lives just for looks?
My sister got the DIY to make a scarecrow early and gave me a gift of one! It’s not really needed since the only bird here is to tell you there’s a message on the board, but I like it. And it definitely provides the farm feeling alongside a few fields.
I have a small rice field and had a lot more rice earlier but kept coming up with other ideas. That was a code I picked up on instagram of a designer who wanted to grow rice and so they are Animal Crossing farming too. So I just had to download their artwork — a thumbnail of one piece is here so other AC folks can find it.
And what chocolate lover could refuse to have an area dedicated to cacao?
Another family member made me the ducks… it reminded me how farmers work with local wildlife. You may remember my friend Matthew talking about that in the Grounded by the Farm episode on rice farming how ducks and other birds especially like the flooded rice fields for the habitat they provide. Other farmers have deer, turkeys, even bears!
This farm has had a scorpion on it… I don’t fare too well sadly but the other day I had it cornered and it disappeared before I could net it! Luckily I don’t think my Arizona friends like Jon who grows lettuce get stung by them too often though good boots are worn rather than At least he didn’t talk about it in the episode where we toured his farm!
#9 Farm Work Area and More Fields
Just across the stream is more of the farm. We’ve been adding soil & compost thanks to my nieces finding more cool design codes to convert cushions to bags of soil. The gnomes do a lot of work… just not when I’m watching.
We’re pumping some water from the stream for the crops…. managing ponds, streams, etc is something farmers frequently do and farmers in some area use water to irrigate their crops. While I thought there weren’t very many that had such manual pumps, I’ve found farmers in the west frequently have to open gates! Trish & Brian talked about managing the water on the farm in the episode about pecan farming.
The plants I’ve used here and on the other side of the stream are anthurium & moss balls as well as turnips you can buy weekly. They look good and feel good too.
Big difference in Animal Crossing farming and IRL? Only one place lets you grow money on trees! But I do think a lot of times, those of us in agriculture feel like we put a lot of money in a hole and don’t have anything to show for it!
#10 Protecting Bees and Growing Fruit Orchards
I love that Animal Crossing has a DIY for bee hives and I have plenty! I do find it odd that you are encouraged to capture honey bees in a net and sell them…. farmers love encouraging the helpful bugs, but on farms you definitely determine the best ways to control damaging pests like worms in your trees, locusts, stink bugs and more!
I have been able to add apples, oranges, cherries, peaches all to the island…. and think my farmer friends would love to think they could harvest every few days for perpetuity and that fruit left on the trees wouldn’t go bad!
My farm sells via some stalls I built to sell fruit, turnips and more. The house here is for the islander who is most helpful — I mean she has been reading up on civil engineering! Takes a bit of Animal Crossing farming nerdity I guess!
Also ship fresh fruit to other islands not lucky enough to have them… the boxes represent that, although I frequently just put the fruit or turnips in my pockets.
The practice of selling turnips on Animal Crossing… WHAT CRAZY MARKETING. You buy from a pig with allergies or a perpetual cold & then find better prices. I have made millions in a matter of days! And I didn’t even have to grow them! And you can absolutely lose your shirt too. I would love to stumble onto something that works like that with dollars (I said works like that, not a scam or dream!)
#11 Breeding with Black Roses
Black roses and other flowers (I also have black tulips, lillies, etc) definitely draw your eye. They have an allure and are not easy to come by at first. But when you’ve been here long enough & worked on your island enough, you get a gold waterings can and you can water black roses and while you frequently get more black ones, sometimes you get gold… not yellow… gold. They are pretty but mostly for show. Wish I could figure out how to grow gold in my backyard IRL!
In the video I shared the other day, you could see me watering with a gold watering can, that’s why… wanting gold roses. Farmers only water when it is raining when the soil profile really needs it. Water on the plants doesn’t really help much, they need enough water to soak into the soil. Don’t do it often, but at times, it helps keep a crop alive!
#12 Stadium Theater for a Q&A
I love movies and shooting videos on the farm is such a joy for me! I still remember so many moments because they were caught on film… Jon explaining lettuce farming and the row spacing he uses and DeeDee introducing me to Moofasa her farm’s calf. Lots of small towns had movie theaters and some have been converted to multipurpose space. That’s what I’m doing here. Small town shops and cafes are having a tough time wintering this covid storm like all small businesses.
Set this up so I could answer any questions about farming or Animal Crossing, similar to the recent podcast episode where I answered questions about food & farming.
Final Thoughts on Animal Crossing Farming
The island is a small place and like the real world, knowing people and being nice to neighbors helps as frequently we need each other.
Also, gaming and farming have more in common than many know. In fact, a lot of farmers joke they don’t need to go to casinos to get the rush of risking it all… that can happen when a bad storm comes through or prices just drop dramatically.
Hope you enjoyed this whether you play Animal Crossing or not! I had fun putting it together!