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Mandatory Movies

I love movies, especially if they have a dystopian theme to it. Some of the best:

Maize Mazes

Maize Mazes and Maze design software

Maize Mazes

I was asked to design a maize maze and in the process I accidentally built maize maze design software, which came to good use because the design always changes :) Also the one maze became two. With COVID firm in mind, the maze was designed with 3 meter wide paths so everyone can pass each other safely.

I've had a fascination with mazes since I was a kid, always drawing elaborate designs on grid paper and then wanting my parents to solve it. Then, early in 2020 my sister asked me if I would be interested in designing a physical maize maze for a friend of hers. I simply could not resist!

Designing a Maze

Maize Mazes have their own set of constraints. For example maize is planted (or 'drilled' as farmers call it) in rows with a certain distance (typically 75 cm). For a maze this doesn't really work as you can cheat by walking along the rows. This is solved by planting the maize horizontally and vertically across the field thus producing a grid. The grid can then be used for designing the maze, keeping in mind that you need at least 4 rows of corn to prevent looking through.

Growing the Maze

Designing a maze is easy when compared to physically creating one. The mazes I designed used two different methods of creating them (which was very educational :-).

Manually Pulling the Maize

Very low tech, but a lot of work! Using the detailed design sheets (see image below) from the software the paths of the maze are counted out using the row and column numbers and marked using poles and cords. Then one by one the plants are pulled out of the ground by an army of volunteers. It took about a week to complete the 4 acre Fordingbridge maze. The 3 meter wide paths didn't help :)

Just one page of the maze design Pulling maize is hard work!

Precision Farming

The farmer of the Sompting field had a John Deere Greenstar system which allows planting the maize only there were needed, provided you have the data in the appropriate format. My design software can produce a standard ETSI Shape file but that's not what the tractor needed. So in the end the design was converted by hand. However, reverse engineering of the file format is underway so next year, I hope to produce the files directly from the software.

However, even with precision farming there is still some manual labour involved because of position inaccuracies. For this the detailed designs were used again. It was much less work though!

The Software

It started as a simple grid based drawing application with some specifics for maize mazes and ended up producing 100+ page pdfs with detailed design plans, solutions and visitor heat maps. Oh dear..

In 2024 it is also being tested on a field in the south of France by an independent farmer. And I even wrote some instructions for that.

Maze design software

2023 Maze

2023 brings us Bickton as a theme. Bickton is the hamlet at the river Avon near Fordingbridge where the maze is located. I hear there will be an escape room inside the maze as well, so check pickingpatch.com for the details.

2022 Mazes

The theme for 2022 was Aladdin, so expect narrow Bagdad passages, grand Palace corridors and desert trails! There are two designs, one of the magic lamp and one of the sultans palace both designed on a 1.5 meter grid for extra detail. Sadly the combination of a very dry summer and drilling problems resulted in only two of the four planned mazes reaching completion. However QR code treasure hunt throughout the maze was a huge success and Aladdin's lamp shows beautifully in the maze as you can see below.

Fordingbridge Aladdin Maze

2021 Mazes

For 2021 I designed four different mazes, each with a Peter Pan theme: a pirate ship, the tick tock crock, the never bird and of course Peter Pan flying. Sadly the last one (in Bath) was never opened because some problems with the planting of the maize. The other mazes in Fordingbridge, Cardiff and Maidenhead were a great success.

2020 Mazes

The first two maize mazes I designed were located in Fordingbridge and Sompting. The theme was the importance of bees hence the image of a bee in the center of the maze. Also there were lots of crafts for the kids to do and sunflowers to pick! One of the visitors made a nice video of it.

Fordingbridge Maize Maze 2020

Need a maze designer?

If you need a maze design for next season why not contact me to see if I can help you?

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