Over a course of several weeks me and my team have came up with a question to focus our research findings around a solution to decrease food insecurity in Fayetteville, AR. We began with the question: How might we encourage people living in Fayetteville to start or join a community Garden? We conducted three interviews via zoom and documented the interviewees' responses. Each person we interviewed was very eager to help us further our research. After these interviews we concluded that our how might we question would need to shift to better suit the problem. We landed on: How might we modify the current community garden projects in Fayetteville so more city residents could/would join? Our research was only beginning.
To go forth with our research we thought it was necessary to employ these methods:
Survey + Questionnaire: A questionnaire was made and shared through our instagram stories and facebook. This survey included 20 short questions. The responses we received gave us insight into the community’s experiences regarding grocery shopping, food insecurity and gardening. Some of the following statistics are gathered from the survey.
+Most individuals were buying food from Walmart,
+Most people are purchasing produce almost every time that they shop.
+77% of survey takers have heard of the term food insecurity, but only 59.1% have not heard of food insecurity but knew of food deserts.
+People’s definitions of these terms were not correct but the sentiment of each person’s definition was similar.
+95% of survey takers have heard of a community garden before but 63.6% were unaware that Fayetteville offers such gardens.
+14 out of 22 participants said that they might join a community garden with further research.
+Some survey responders confused the terms food insecurity and food desert
+Over 40% of participants disclosed that they sometimes or often experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months.
+Most participants felt that they had access to more quality food choices.
+More than half of the individuals who took the survey have grown their own produce which was a surprising finding/fact.
AEIOU Observation - Activity, Environment, Interaction, Objects, Users:
Activity: Don and Tri-Cycle Farms are actively expanding and updating the farms to accommodate more year-round production of crops. Tri-Cycle gives one third of their food to food banks, one third to volunteers and one-third is sold to maintain the farm and provide living wages for its full-time staff.
Environment: Don has created a farm park which is a space for not only for food production, but for community gathering as well.
Interaction: Tri-Cycle Farms runs almost solely on volunteer help. Don has worked closely with the University of Arkansas students and other community members to educate citizens on the importance of food insecurity.
Objects: There were lots of spaces and objects dedicated to community gatherings. Such as a stage, large picnic tables and open areas. Some other objects that were used in the farm included hoses, sinks, and a greenhouse.
Users: Only Don was there, but he was energetic and very willing to share his knowledge. He is constantly involved with the community as both an educator and a leader.
Observation for Fayetteville Community Garden:
The current state of the community gardens is exactly where it needs to be in terms of participants. However, the addition of a new community garden seems unlikely with the current city budget and need. This has led us to re-examine our approach to our solution.
Graffiti Wall: These were temporary poster boards where people could write and sketch responses to our how might we question. They were placed at the White River Nursery as well as the Fayetteville Community Garden in Walker Park. Both were left for 3-4 days. This method was intended to elicit some interesting responses from individuals around that area in particular. However only one board managed to get two responses. We have to ask the question: does the average community member care or feel the need to interact with or address this issue? Why was our most fun and interactive research method the least successful? Our team wonders if COVID had an effect on this method in any way.
Photo studies are common in exploratory research for understanding the world of users, particularly when engaging in territory unfamiliar to the designer. We asked 6 participants for images which followed a given image outline. However we also encouraged them to take any other photos of their daily life that interested them.
Every participant clearly enjoyed outdoor spaces, but only a couple people seemed to bring some sort of gardening into their homes. Every participant submitted at least one image with other individuals with them. We can conclude that there is plenty of community interaction within these photos. Some of the younger participants are more likely to be with friends and go out to eat, while older participants are more likely to cook from home and be with family.
In conclusion, after implementing these 5 separate research methods over a two week period, our design team revealed a few very important conclusions. People are much less comfortable with participating in face to face community socialization (such as community gardening) with strangers. COVID has greatly increased the number of food insecure Fayetteville residents, but there has not been an equal increase in charity food banks or production. We have also realized that the city of Fayetteville is pretty maxed out on their garden projects. Community involvement is what drives these gardens and farms, not the other way around! We need to find a way to get the community interested first, then their involvement will spark growth in using gardening to combat local food insecurity.