Weeds and weather woes included

A new card game aims to meld farming with fun, while teaching kids a little bit about 
how agriculture works in Manitoba

young man with card game

Trevor Lehmann can’t say exactly what the cards have in store for him, but he hopes it’s something good.

The international student adviser at the University of Manitoba has been a lover and creator of board and card games since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. Now he hopes his latest creation called Crop Cycle will take root with Manitobans, urban and rural alike.

“The idea behind it was to try and find something that would really showcase Manitoba agriculture,” he said. “I’m not a farmer myself, but I have many family members who grew up or worked in agriculture.”

And as a former high school teacher, he knows how challenging it can be to get kids interested in farming and where their food comes from.

“It’s kind of hard to get kids into it, particularly if you’re teaching in an urban setting, so a lot of the game is about bringing out the basics, when you’d plant a crop, when you’d harvest a crop and the frustrations of getting to that point,” he said, adding players are sidelined by inclement weather and pests — just like real farmers.

playing card
The legend card for the game Crop Cycle is displayed. photo: Shannon VanRaes

The game can be played by two to five people and lasts between 20 and 40 minutes. Players use crop cards to plant, during the appropriate season of course, while implement and input cards help players move their crops forward. For the more nefarious players, there are even weeds that can be planted in your competitor’s fields.

“There are also cards that represent natural disasters as well, but if you play them they affect everyone, including yourself, so it’s this balancing act,” he said.

Crop Cycle rewards good crop rotation and discourages monocropping as well; the greater your diversity, the less likely you’ll be knocked out of the running by a single pest or weather event, the developer said.

“The game is won by getting to a certain number of points, basically by successfully harvesting crops,” said Lehmann.

Now the owner of Convergent Games is looking to commercialize his creation, something he hopes to do with the aid of crowdfunding. Late last October, the entrepreneur launched a kick-starter campaign, but while 89 people pledged support worth $3,700 it wasn’t enough to reach his goal of $10,000 and trigger payment.

But that hasn’t deterred Lehmann, who said he plans to launch another kick-starter campaign this March. If the campaign is successful, all those who contribute will receive a copy of the game.

“I got a lot of good feedback the first time,” he said, adding he is tweaking the game based on some of the comments he received. He’s also contacted various farm associations to seek out information and explore collaborations.

Right now, Crop Cycle doesn’t include animal agriculture, but in the future Lehmann said he may expand it to incorporate animal husbandry.

He’s also exploring manufacturing options to see if he can cut down on costs.

And while he’s competing against things like video games and online activities, Lehmann said his game offers something all the technology in the world can’t duplicate.

“One thing I really always liked about the board game world was that it brings people together to play face to face,” he said. “And I think there’s something really powerful about that, there’s a shared sense of community there.”

About the author

Reporter

Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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