The long term research goal of this project is to understand the changing structure and function of the varied forms of agriculture, and the services it provides in the rapidly urbanizing Central-Arizona Phoenix (CAP) region. The specific goal for this citizen science component is to collect data on the diversity of home and community gardens in Maricopa County, which roughly covers the Phoenix metropolitan region. Recently there has been a lot of enthusiasm around “growing your own food.” Given the critical food and water security challenges facing the Phoenix region, it is important to understand how and to what extent are home and community gardens able to address these challenges and what can be done to support their capacity. However, home and community food gardens remain challenging to study due to their sheer diversity, geographic spread, low visibility and physical accessibility. Citizen Science offers a promising research approach to address this data challenge. This approach already been successfully tried in other locations (such as New York City).
Adults (18 years and older) who manage home or community gardens in Maricopa County, Arizona will be invited to participate. Only gardens that grow fruit, vegetable and/or herb would be involved in the study. The project is designed around two main phases: Phase I involves an online survey and Phase II involves in-field garden data collection by selected participants. The online survey (via Survey Monkey), will asked respondents about their motivations, their years of experience growing food, basic details about their food gardens (size, production method, water sources and irrigation methods). Phase 2 will require the development of a number of project protocols and re-sources, including data collection toolkits and customized online infrastructure. We will build on tools and resources already developed by other citizen science based urban agriculture projects such as: Farming Concrete in New York City and Edible Garden in Southern Australia. A web developer will be hired to create the online infrastructure, including a database for data storage (hosted by ASU) plus a web interface. This infrastructure will allow each participating garden to have an online description and photograph, linked to data entry and data visualization pages. It will be designed so that, as participants enter data, graphs of their data will be automatically generated to display preliminary results for each individual garden. These online graphics can be used to compare food production areas within gardens (e.g. between two different garden beds) and between gardens (i.e. participants can access data from other participants and compare their productivity, water use, and labor)