Data collection: recap of the first two months

Its here, field season has started!

Although refining the collection methods is really never done (one needs to be iterative and reflexive about such things), I have now embarked on the journey of data collection. I have my online and paper version surveys, my base introductory email and phone speech, my Ethics Review approval, and my field assistants.

I have to admit I actually started my first meetings with stakeholders in March but they were mostly to explain the project or do a pilot survey. I really started contacting people at the beginning of April, so about a month and a half ago.

In the first few weeks, I made initial calls to “arrondissement” departments that are responsible for managing the community gardens in each of their areas. I contacted them to see if it would be possible to give a short 3 minute presentation at gardens’ annual “kick-off” administration meeting to recruit a few volunteers. I thought this would both be a more efficient way to recruit volunteers  (as opposed to standing in community gardens around the city trying to get people to fill-out the survey), as well as more respectful of everyone involved in community gardens, as I am asking for permission.

As anticipated however, its hard to get in contact with the right person at the right time. And we only got to present at meetings in one arrondissement (more on that experience in the the next post).

I also emailed and called all of the collective and institutional gardens and relevant city departments I knew about and used my  “standard” email and speech adapted to the situation of each garden. I always joined a copy of the consent form and the survey to emails. I realized after getting a few answers that the survey was a bit “scary” so I added a few sentences to the email about the fact that the survey looked long but could be done in 15 minutes in person with no great difficulty.

In the first 2 weeks I had a few meetings, which went really well, but then responses slowed down. I have had to call most people that I initially emailed, and then send them another email with all the information. I am now getting meetings though, which is great. A number of the actors want to be re contacted later in the season to schedule a meeting as they are to busy in april and may, which is fine. At least I have their contact information so I fell confident the surveys will eventually get filled out.

Last weekend we were able to visit 3 community gardens and get 3 or 4 gardeners in each garden to respond. The summer is starting to pick up!

Over the next few posts I will go into a little more detail on some of the encounters that have occurred since the beginning of the season to show how things have been progressing and how some element of my planning need to be adapted as the whole team (me and my assistants) actually use the data collection tools and protocols.

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things are planted in the gardens and growing!

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