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Garden mosaics: An urban agroecology education-research partnership.
KRASNY, MARIANNE1, DOYLE, REBEKAH1, 1
ABSTRACT- Ecologists working in urban areas often face challenges when trying to engage students in authentic research, both because of limited access to natural areas and, at the K-12 level, student populations who may not see ecology as relevant to their lives. Urban community gardens provide unique sites in poor, ethnically diverse neighborhoods for youth to engage in research while learning principles of agroecology. Through the Garden Mosaics program, youth in six northeastern cities conducted research patterned after Participatory Rural Appraisal, the goal of which was to document growing practices of recent immigrants from developing countries and African-Americans, many of whom were from the southeastern US. Through techniques such as participatory mapping, drawing Venn diagrams of garden organization, constructing timelines of garden history, and interviewing, the gardeners shared with the students crops and planting practices they had brought from their region of origin to these urban gardens, as well as the importance these gardens played in their community life. In order to engage youth in the participatory research, it was essential that they also had hands-on gardening experience. Garden Mosaics provides one model of how urban students can become engaged in agroecological research that is relevant to their neighborhoods, acknowledges the importance of local knowledge, and provides information that is of interest to the wider scientific and policy community.
KEY WORDS: urban, education, agroecology