Developer: Gro Play
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 3

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Storytelling/Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Intuitiveness Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Gro Garden is a new app from Gro Play – a Swedish developer whose apps focus on environmental issues. Gro Garden is no exception, as this stylized, bright, and colorful app allows children to role play the tasks of an organic farmer. I am fond of how this app explains the circular nature of this natural approach to farming as three sections of this app are included that rely heavily on each other to create an environment that will best support the produce being grown.

3Starting with the gardening section, children will be able to lay down their choice of seeds and help them grow using sunshine and rain. A small amount of fertilizer is given to the player at the start to better grow the plants, all along looking for bugs to shoo away with a tap as these pests are looking for a free meal and will damage these important crops. Harvest the fruits and vegetables, which may be few in the early stages, and bring them inside the cottage section where one can feed unique animals such as Banja, the yellow rabbit, and the other characters who also star in other Gro Play apps. It’s a real treat for fans of this series of ecologically-themed applications.

After feeding these characters, a pile of compost scraps will be created from the leftovers like stems and peels not eaten from the produce grown in the farm section. These scraps are then delivered to the compost section, which will in turn be turned into fertilizer for use during the farming process. I enjoy how the beneficial molds or fungi found in compost are anthropomorphized, and really enjoy being fed the leftovers by the player. To retrieve the composted soil ready for the garden, be sure to lift the door seen to the right of the compost bin.

1 I appreciate how this app really teaches the cycle of sustainable farming and how the process needed to complete in either of these scenes takes time – a nod to the time farming may take, which is not sped up the way it may have been in an arcade setting. I equally enjoy how after playing in these areas, one receives badges of different seeds, microorganisms or desserts, and how these objects are put to good use by adding to the collection of seeds one can choose from to grow, additional treats to seed the characters from the cottage, or by adding additional organic sources to help break down food scraps into soil used later for planting. Another really great feature of this app is how multi-touch is enabled, allowing children and adults to work together to feed the living compost, plant seeds, deliver sun or rain, and most importantly to defend the plants from the bugs attacking the growing vegetation. I do wish a few more activities in the compost area were included such as aerating the compost, but this is a minor note in a thoughtfully developed application.


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