Update 1- Mapping and reviewing the literature

Over the past two weeks I have worked on mapping Providence’s food landscape, conducted a literature review of the research on community gardens, and made contact with people who can help me find interested interview participants. So far I feel like I have already learned so much about community gardens and feel much more prepared to conduct interviews as an informed researcher.

By creating an ArcGIS Story Map about Providence’s food landscape, I have learned a lot about the city itself and food insecurity. Initially I was planning on mapping areas of the city that could be considered food deserts, but I ran into some limitations with ArcGIS Online. Locating food deserts would have involved combining a lot of different factors, such as income, access to a vehicle, distance to a supermarket and many others, which the application was not equipped to do. I am still happy with how the Story Map is turning out though, because I think that mapping the locations of supermarkets and the areas within walking distance of them is still a good indicator of food access options. I also created two ArcGIS Web Apps which users can use to find their nearest community gardens and farmers’ markets in Providence. I am aiming to finish my Story Map soon and will link it here when it is fully complete.

Like a couple of other students, some aspects of my research have changed from what I had initially planned. While conducting the literature review over the past week and a half and learning more about Providence as a city and its community garden movement, I have become more interested in community gardens as places for maintaining culture and expressing identity than as sites for producing social cohesion. Now, instead of asking interview participants questions about just social cohesion, I am hoping to see what role the gardens serve related to participants’ cultures or heritages. I am now looking to interview people who grow unique fruits, vegetables, or herbs that are important to them and that you might not find in most gardens. Because of this, my potential pool for interview subjects has become a bit smaller, but I think this actually might make my project more manageable. I also think this slight change of subject will improve my research and make it a more unique and engaging paper.

Last week I emailed with someone from an organization involved with the gardens who can hopefully introduce me to a few interested gardeners by the end of next week. I will use snowball sampling to find more, giving my research hopefully around 10 or 12 interviews in total. Since community gardens are places of importance and pride for their members, I am hoping that it won’t be too challenging to get people talking about them! I am planning on conducting, transcribing, coding and analyzing the interviews over the next four weeks and then finishing up with the final paper.

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