Want a sure-fire way to grill some chicken? What to see what's ripening on the vine this month? We have an app for that! Stone Barns Center recently developed a free iPhone app that marries nature and technology to offer a dynamic exploration of our farm whether you're walking around the land or miles away at home. It lets users self-guide around the farm, as well as gives farm-fans everywhere a chance to stay current with what's growing, changing and coming into season on the farm.
“We wanted an interpretive, educational tool that wouldn't be static—that would provide up-to-the-moment information about the farm: vegetables coming into harvest, animals on the move, seasonal recipes and new farming experiments,” says Erica Helms, Director of Marketing and Philanthropy at Stone Barns. “And we wanted to connect with people where they are used to getting their information.” And these days, that place is increasingly a hand-held electronic device. The Stone Barns app features a map marking current locations of the animals, photo and audio updates from farmers and staff, suggested tours, shareable recipes and a children's farm-trivia game. (Today nine out of 10 kids get online every day, but less than half of them get into nature once a week.) It's a way to see how weather is affecting what's growing at the farm, what innovations are coming online there and what's going to be abundant at the next farm market.
The app was created by Manhattan-based media design firm Local Projects, which specializes in museum and public spaces work, including mobile projects for the New York Botanical Garden and the 9/11 Memorial Guide. Local Projects in turn received a Communicator Award from the International Academy of Visual Arts for the Stone Barns app's map and navigation feature. But you don't have to own an iPhone to self-tour the farm. We have a dozen iPod Touch devices available for visitors to borrow when they visit. And for those who want to self-guide the good old-fashioned way, new paper maps are available when you arrive. (Check our new website for guided tours, offered every week.)