Edible Gardens

Edible Gardens project
Do you grow food? Get involved to help the Discovery Circle better understand how and why people grow food in urban areas.

Welcome to the Edible Gardens project! This project is open to all South Australian home, community and school gardens. If you grow any kind of herbs, vegetables, fruits, or if you keep urban livestock such as chickens, other poultry, fish or bees – we want to hear from you!

Get started - complete the Edible Gardens online survey        View participating gardens

This project has two parts – you can just complete our online survey on your food garden, or you can also volunteer to collect data on your actual food garden.

  • PART ONE: An online survey – this survey can be completed by anyone aged 18+ living in South Australia, who grows food. The survey asks questions about why you grow some of your own food, what challenges you experience and whether you preserve or share any of the food you grow. It also asks you to describe your current food garden. If you just want to complete this part, click here.
  • PART TWO: Collect data on your own food garden – we plan to include as many gardens as possible. You can volunteer your garden, but please note we only have 200 Data Collection Toolkits to post out and cannot guarantee that your garden will be included. Each toolkit contains a water meter, a spring-balance, data sheets, instructions and clipboard and pencil.
    Selected gardeners are posted a toolkit and asked to measure 5 things:

    1. Record all time spent on different food-gardening activities.
    2. Record any money spent on food-garden related costs.
    3. Measure all the water applied to your food garden (we provide a water meter).
    4. Weigh the quantity of food your garden produces.
    5. And record any food you share with others outside of your own household.

Enter new garden data (for registered gardens only)

Collecting data on your own garden

What does this involve?
If your garden is selected you will be sent a registration email, with instructions for how to register your garden in the Edible Gardens system. Once you register – we post you out a Data Collection Toolkit within 2 weeks. The toolkit contains all the tools and information you’ll need to help you collect data on your garden.

This part of the project is quite “hands-on” and so get prepared to keep your clipboard and blank data sheets (provided in the toolkit) near you when you’re working on your food garden. You will need to think about how much time you spend on different gardening activities, such as “planting/sowing”, or “pest control”. You will also need to check your water meters regularly to see how many litres of water was applied to your food garden.

If this sounds like too much, you can always just collect data on one part of your food garden, for example, on one planter growing herbs, or on your chicken coop. But if you are up for the challenge you can record data on as many as 4 separate garden areas!

How much time will this take me?

  • Registering your garden takes approximately 15 minutes – we ask you about the different garden areas you chose to collect data on, such as size, type of area, water source/s and irrigation method/s.
  • When you receive your toolkit it may take you ½ hour to familiarise yourself with the toolkit and install your water meter/s.
  • Ongoing data collection can take 10-15 minutes per day – on the days you tend your garden. This includes the recording and writing down the amount of time spent, any water applied and weighing any produce harvested.
  • Entering your data online can take 10-20 minutes – once a fortnight. And once your data is entered and saved you can view your latest results as charts.

What do you get in return for collecting data?

Downloadable data and interactive online charts for easy comparisons: All the data you collect and enter into our system can be download for your own records and analysis. When you enter new data, your results are automatically displayed as interactive charts (like these ones). With these charts you can compare separate areas in your own garden for their water use, time spent, harvest yield and water use efficiency. You can even compare your garden with any other garden in the Edible Gardens project. These charts can be downloaded, saved and shared on social media.

A Nutritional and Retail Value Report on all the results from your food garden: Once you are finished collecting data and have let us know, you will also be sent a final report. This report will not only cover the total results of your different garden areas, but will also provide nutritional value data and the retail value on all the food you grow. The nutritional data is based on commercial nutritional values from the NUTTAB database, and the retail value is based on standard supermarket produce prices tracked over the life of the project.

Why do we need your help?

Because everyone grows food in different ways and for different reasons! We want to learn as much as we can about urban food gardens, but we are a small team of scientists and can’t visit every food garden in South Australia. This is where you, the Citizen Scientist, comes in. You can help our research by answering questions in our online survey, and if you’re keen you can also volunteer to collect data on your own food garden.

Growing food in urban areas is also known as “urban agriculture”, (see our blog to learn more).  Previous research has found that over half of all South Australian households grow some of their own food! However, we still know very little about how much food these urban gardens can produce, or how much time, money or water it takes to grow that food. This kind of information is important for a numbers of reasons:

“Does the way you grow food best match the results that you’re after for your garden?”

For example, you might want to grow lots of food but not use too much water – but without measuring the amount of water you apply to your food garden, how can you know if what you’re doing is working? Or what if you want to save money? Do you track your costs?

By collecting data on all different kinds of real food gardens, we can start to become more aware of what goes into and what comes out of our food gardens.

Our progress so far

Read the profile list of all our participating gardens:

View participating gardens

Below you can see how many people have participated in the Edible Gardens online survey and the spread of suburbs and postcodes across South Australia. Please Note: no individuals’ address is identified (this map shows suburb or town markers only). Click on the map to enable zooming and moving the map!

For project updates, follow our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/thediscoverycircle

Questions & Answers

I only have a small food garden – can I still volunteer to collect data?
Yes, absolutely. We are keen to have all kinds of food gardens involved. It doesn’t matter what size they are.

Don’t currently have a food garden?
You can still complete the online survey.

Don’t have access to the internet to complete the survey?
We can send you a paper copy of the survey (please call us to ask for one). However, the survey works much better online (it lets you skip questions that you don’t need to answer), so please do it online if you can!

Don’t live in South Australia but still want to participate?
Please contact us and we will see what we can do.

Project team

Contact us and stay in touch

Edible Gardens project