Before the sun was up this morning, 3-year-old Alex was gasping in horror as football-crazy “George the Farmer” missed a bleeping seed drill alarm.
“Oh no, there will be bare patches in the paddock,” the little fellow moaned.
George the Farmer is the brand new app that transported Alex and eight-year-old Zoe to the Australian wheat fields. It brings farmers and other Aussies together in such a charming way and I wanted to learn more, so contacted George the Farmer’s creators, Simone Kain and Ben Hood.
The pair are partners in regionally based creative agency, helloFriday (based in the south east of South Australia) and both Simone and Ben grew up on farms.
Simone hadn’t been able to find any Australian farming apps for her then two-year-old son, George. So, making use of their creative skills over a two-year period when business slowed, they wrote, illustrated, produced an animated children’s story book and game App, which we downloaded at iTunes.
Here’s Simone’s story:
Q: Tell me about this interesting farming character.
A: George the Farmer is everyone’s friend. With his trusty dog Jessie by his side, George tackles the day to day activities of Australian farming life with enthusiasm, a can-do attitude and most importantly a big smile. Unfortunately George’s obsession with sports often plays havoc with not being able to finish jobs off in their entirety! Lucky for George, his beautiful and talented wife Ruby is always there to lend a helping hand. The importance and power of team work shines through in George’s Australian farming adventures.
George’s personality was modeled off of a few local farming friends traits and the stories that form George’s adventures have generally been created from issues that have arisen on my husband Justin’s, family farm. Whenever Justin arrives home at night and tells me about a problem that he’d encountered on the farm that day, I quickly pen down a new story line! The challenges that face George and Ruby closely reflect and make fun of the daily tasks that make up farming life, which makes it amusing not only for the one to eight age group, but adults alike.
Q: Why a farming character?
A: Although I could find some farming Apps for my son George, they weren’t great and they were either very American or English using terms such as field, fall and barn, for example. There was definitely a gap in the market for a children’s story whose primary focus was on Australian farms. The more we researched the idea, the more it became apparent that both city and rural children could benefit in learning about farm practices and food and fibre production in a fun, yet simple way.
Q: What has the feedback been like so far?
A: It is only early, however the responses that we’re receiving back are amazing. People have started following George through social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) right across Australia and into New Zealand, the UK, US and Canada with App purchases so far in Australia, the US and Canada. Although George’s stories are based in Australia, it really seems to have international appeal. A follower from Perth wrote, “Fantastic! I have four little farm kids and the only farming apps for kids we’ve found have been American, which as we all know, is a fair bit different to our Aussie farm life!”
Q: What can you do with the App?
A: The App comes with the first story called, ‘George and the Seeder’ which follows George as he plants a wheat crop and then accidentally runs out of seed unknowingly. The story has a read to me function for those children too young to read, which has been narrated by ABC 891 (South Australia and Broken Hill) presenter Peter Goers, OAM, who has a really, lively voice that I think typifies a country Australia. The story can also be read on it’s own while still containing the additional farming sounds effects.
Along with the story there is also a memory game, colouring in game and a sing-a-long feature where the kids can sing-a-long to the George the Farmer theme song.
Children are enjoying the interaction of the story, being able to watch a tractor move, make a dog bark and a magpie warble, while at the same time unconsciously learning about aspects of seeding a wheat crop and what foods are produced from wheat.
My twin boys Louis and Frank (20 months) are crazy about the tractor and Jessie the dog in the story. They know how to use the iPad and out of the 40 or so Apps I have on the device, it is the main one that they like to open by themselves and use.
Q: The App has been welcomed across the agricultural industry with national media coverage, what’s in George’s future?
A: Ben and I are already deep in to the next George story which will be available as an in-app purchase through the current App in November. As long as there is interest in the character, we will continue to create stories and build on this App as well as others. Our dream would be for George to become a household name like Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam, also helping to highlight farming as a worthwhile career choice.
NOTE: I have not been paid to write this post, I just loved the app and thought you might, too!