Weekly recap: End of August

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This week I visited one school-yard garden that had been set up the previous year by an oversight organization and is now entirely managed by the school. Although the visit went well, it reminded me that sometimes, even though I try to be clear and make things easy for respondents, I can’t control the data I get. In this case, the respondent didn’t know the amount of inputs they used and didn’t want to look them up.

Tomorrow I will finally be doing the surveys with the 7 school gardens that are being overseen by one organization through a training program. This set of surveys has been postponed three times so I was quite excited. However, this morning, after sending my third reminder email to all the participants about what information they needed to collect to fill the survey out, I got a reply that made me a bit less excited. The person seemed happy to take the survey but, again, was unwilling to take the extra time to go figure out the quantities and types of inputs they used.  I guess I expected it would be more difficult with private or community gardeners to get quantitative data, but I didn’t really expect as many road-blocks with larger organizations that have budgets and manage many gardens.

In other “bad” news, I found out that one of my collaborators from another university in the city had not had time to contact and fill-out the survey with the actors she thought she would. I thus have taken it upon myself to recontact and try and schedule a time to administer the survey with all those actors myself. In addition, the talk about my project I was suppose to give to a community group last week got moved to September. Also, as we prepare for municipal elections, one of the candidate announced that if he is elected he will suspend the planned compost center at the Saint-Michel site. Although I think there has probably been poor communication to the neighborhood and to the public in general about what good composting can and should look like and thus the need for better communication, this should not mean we back track on a necessary project. I am sad because a sustainable Montreal cannot keep sending its organic waste to the landfill and we need to think of the city as en interconnected system and not one electoral “problem” at a time. We have four universities and I believe we can all work with the city to ensure they create quality compost that can be used in UA (recycling P!) and doesn’t smell. I don’t think a halt on the project is the solution.

In good news, my field assistant who was doing her undergraduate honors thesis with my advisor submitted her report today. I learnt a lot through this mentoring experience. With her deadline being this week, we pushed a little on the West-Island farms where we had started surveys but had incomplete information. Although they didn’t all respond or respond completely to all requests, we still did get a few extra pieces of information. Again, I am surprised at record keeping practices at these larger farms and how much work it has been to make sense of it all and compile information to get the answers we need. Although I created the survey to standardize answers I often find myself needing to take what I can get and then make sense of it all. I am very lucky people have been open and willing to share information and I don’t mind doing compilation work. I guess I am just surprised because some of the data I collect I this would be useful records to have organized to improve practices over the years.

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