Draft Project Proposal – Mapping the surplus food of Community Gardens

  • A brief overview of your project
    • New York City is often known as a “concrete jungle.” While we envision a grey and black landscape, not many pay attention to the actual green foliage that quietly engulfs the city. There are many community gardens that one can quickly step into to find space or organically grown food. However, since these gardens are available to the public, many people often overstep their boundaries and disrupt a delicate ecosystem by taking food not meant for everyone. If only there was a way to effectively inform the local community what food is available for the public.
  • The question/problem it helps answer (The importance of this can’t be understated. The gap or problem your project will address is what makes it relevant. You can see my own attempt to answer this question for a current digital writing project here.)
    • The project aims to collect current food inventory in these gardens. The data would be collected in real time over two months. The data would also come from any past inventory that these community gardens may have already collected. The focus area would be in a couple of community gardens in Manhattan, and we hope to scale it to all five boroughs if possible. The map can showcase real time inventory of available food and can also lead to locations where any surplus of food was donated to a local food bank. This would be a community awareness building project which will lead to a reduction of food theft and an opportunity for local residents to increase interaction with a community space.
  • The project’s intended audience
    • This project will be of use to local community garden residents and to any local resident in search of locally grown organic food.  
  • Its contribution to DH & potential impact
    • Any inspiring data humanist who would like to expand their skills on crowd sourcing and data collection in NYC. As well as a potential inspiration for individuals whom want to create similar food bank projects using free tools on the internet. Local residents can use this free online tool to find food. Building awareness of local issues of food insecurity even in the global north.
    • We can compare this to an already created similar vastly funded project. There are Food growers in Europe that are using crowd sourcing community data programs that are currently underway. The Organization is called GrowObservatory and they collect data to improve farmers’ growth technique in Europe. Their website is located here: https://growobservatory.org/about/#grow-open-data-challenge-as-part-of-data-pitch–2018-19One of the programs they use focuses on the community to input their Soil levels based on the soil sensors, they use Microsoft Power bi in order to collect and create data visualization.
  • Final product (even if tentative)
    • This project aims to create a mapping project using two data collection tools, Google Maps and Tableau online. Tableau online is a free analytics platform fully hosted in a cloud. This tool will be used in order to collect raw data and organize it. Meanwhile, after analyzing the collected data, the project will use Google Maps, a web-based geospatial service that provides detailed information about geographical regions and sites around the world, to visually present the collected data and make it available to the general public. 
  • An initial feasibility assessment (even if tentative).
    • This data can be collected in the duration of a college semester, or a longer period of time. Possibility of collecting data only in a handful of community gardens. No more than possibly 5 gardens in Manhattan in the time allotted. A website could be set up as well as social media posts can be distributed to the general public. 
  • What digital tools/methods/team member skillsets will be needed to realize the project? 
    • Project Lead: Someone with project management skills or someone who wants to tackle on leading a project
    • Data Entry(s): People with data entering skillsets, comfortable with monotonous work
    • Mapping coordinator: Someone who can navigate with google maps and geospatial experience 
    • Data Collection Specialist(s): People who can reach out, collect, organize and possibly analyze data
    • Copy Editor(s): People who can review, vet and organize any information found. Social media skillset. 
  • Can you foresee any legal or technical barriers to the project’s viability? 
    • Plenty, 
    1. Communicating with community leaders at the garden. Possibility that they won’t respond or want to divulge information that can be made public. 
    2. The data we collect might not be useful enough to create a sustainable project. As well as the project cannot be scaled into a bigger project for future use. 
    3. Time constraints might be too much. There might not be enough “live” data to be useful. 
    4. This data can be used for malicious intent, this can unfortunately be used as a policing project on where food is available and can lead to be use as indicator of where people gather. 
    5. Unforeseen events: Weather, covid restrictions, online tools become unavailable? 
  • How will you tackle those potential pitfalls if your project is selected?
    1. The team would have to find creative ways to collect data overwise, via already established information on the web or contacting people who do similar projects. 
    2. The team would have to shift the project’s end goal and target a new feasible project in where whatever collected data can be used. 
    3. Reduce and shift the amount of gardens that are being contacted. Possibly restrict the type of data that is being collected. 
    4. The team would need to have the foresight and have conversations among themselves on how to lead this project in the most ethical way possible. 
    5. The team would need to react accordingly. Would need quick thinkers

2 thoughts on “Draft Project Proposal – Mapping the surplus food of Community Gardens

  1. Caitlin Cacciatore (she/hers)

    Hi Nelson,

    This sounds like a fascinating project. You frame it well, in the context of New York’s green and growing spaces as opposed to the vision some of us have as New York as the “concrete jungle,” devoid of vegetation.

    As someone who lives in an area considered a food desert, where there is a distinct lack of healthy, affordable options, this project spoke to me. Many New Yorkers experience food insecurity, and tracking where surplus food exists in local gardens is a worthy cause indeed.

    You are very thorough in your examination of potential pitfalls, challenges, and obstacles the project might face.

    Some questions I have include:

    Why Manhattan to begin with? Why not, say, Queens, or the Bronx?

    What social media outreach platforms are you thinking of using? How will you spread the word, and more importantly, ensure that this information filters down to the people who need it the most? What non-digital ways of communicating findings would you employ, if any?

    Have you reached out to any community gardens who might be willing to work with us? What was their perspective on the project?

    I look forward to seeing how this project develops, should it be chosen! Good luck with your pitch!



  2. Faihaa Khan (she/her)

    Hey Nelson,

    We spoke about your project briefly towards the end of the class and after much thought and consideration I would like to join you on this endeavor. Community Gardens are a great refresher to those who go about their day to day lives in the bounds of urban city landscapes. As New Yorkers I think most of us take for granted the need for fresh air and produce. These commodities encourage a healthier lifestyle whilst also creating an aesthetically pleasing sector in industrial areas. These gardens are something that should be protected and I think your project plan has a great objective in mind for doing just that. The data collected could potentially be the reason for saving a garden in peril, additionally I think this is a great way to being awareness to spaces that could of otherwise been overlooked by the general public.

    -Caitlyn brings up some valid points. I think if we have enough people we can expand research into other areas outside of Manhattan as well. Time will tell how many gardens we may possibly get to but I think having at least 2 boroughs examined will be a good start.
    -As far as social media is concerned we might consider looking into starting an Instagram page to display photos of the gardens, or even a tik tok account displaying the features of the garden with an explanation of what our project aims to do. Twitter is also a good way to quickly spread the word on an issue. Perhaps the class or family and friends can help get it more on the radar by sharing and retweeting. These are just some suggestions but I’m sure we can work all of this out once we map out the scope of this data project.

    Wishing you all the luck on your pitch, here’s hoping it gets chosen! 🙂

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