UBC Undergraduate Research

Agronomy Garden Food Literacy and Community Food System Engagement Strategy Chan, Lucas; Han, Lily; Monteferrante, Lia; Rondolo, Ryah

Abstract

The UBC Agronomy Garden is a small garden at the corner of Main Mall and Agronomy Road; it was established in Summer 2017 so community members could plant crops and harvest vegetables using the space. Furthermore, the Agronomy Garden helps promote awareness of UBC’s diverse food system. For our research project, our team collaborated with the Agronomy Garden committee and UBC community to explore strategies to increase the garden’s effectiveness in terms of community engagement. Our overarching goal was to encourage increased community involvement in the Agronomy Garden. More specifically, our objective was to make the garden a more attractive, interactive, and welcoming space particularly using interactive signage. By increasing the garden’s accessibility to people who do not have a background in gardening and food systems, we hope to maximize the benefits and opportunities of this garden. These benefits include an increased sense of community on the UBC campus, physical exercise, access to fresh produce, and a greater connection to food and urban agriculture. The more people who participate, the further the reach of the garden’s benefits for the broader society. In order to determine what people on the UBC campus are looking for in regard to increased activity in garden spaces, we conducted several research processes to ensure our final deliverables would be relevant to the Agronomy Garden and UBC community. Our team conducted a literature review to determine the best strategies to increase participant engagement and analyzed specific aspects of signage that attract people. Through this research we found that the installation of multilingual, informative, welcoming signage is key to help increase engagement around a garden space. Our group also conducted in-person interviews, using the Community-Based Action Research (CBAR) methodology. We spoke with representatives from the UBC Botanical Garden, Roots on the Roof, and the Geography Garden (Geo Garden) located on UBC Campus. From this research, we found that other gardens on campus seemed to receive positive responses from using visually attractive, educational, creative signs. In addition, we created an online survey to distribute across UBC faculties to determine student preference on signage. The survey resulted in a 63% student preference towards handmade, creative, simple, and colourful welcoming signs. The survey also showed that students preferred images with bold, informative words to describe what plants are specifically growing in the garden. With these results, we decided to create a welcome sign including all these characteristics and several descriptive label signs within the garden. We hope through our research and the production of our final deliverables that the Agronomy Garden chooses to implement our signage strategy to help increase community engagement and awareness. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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