I usually make a tree house sort of thing, get my settlers in it, and cut off access to the ground.

Do I need someone on the ground to farm, or can they do it from the tree house?

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    A more general question of "do settlers need access to stuff for it to work or is assignement enough" would fare better, that is strangely specific. And weird. What do you do when more arrive? – Deltharis Dec 23 '15 at 0:04
  • When you assign a settler to food production they go to the plants and perform an animation where they bend down and tend to the plants. But I don't know what happens if they can't reach the plants and whether they still produce food. – boomstick Dec 30 '15 at 20:09
  • The one garden I bothered to build is in a backyard, right up against a house. I'm constantly finding one or two NPCs clipping into the house almost entirely. I'm guessing they still technically "have access" but it may also be an indicator that the whole thing is just for show. You don't need a complicated "treehouse" to test this either. Just set up a bell, call the NPCs, then put up walls all around them so they can't go anywhere. – Iszi Jan 5 '16 at 21:38
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    So, a treehouse jail for those who follow the recruitment signal to your trap? Thats hilarious :D – Bounce Feb 18 '16 at 14:04

Your settlers do not need to have physical access to the the tasks they've been assigned to. Scavengers and farmers will still collect resources even if they cannot reach them.

However, I have noticed that settlers will not be at the last locations they were when I fast travel away and subsequently return to settlements. This means you may find settlers tending to crops on the ground when returning to your settlement.

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