Evaluating Urban Sustainability Efforts in Columbus, Ohio

Student: Dustin Braden ’21
Research Mentor: Ashley Allen (OWU Department of Geology-Geography)

As food sustainability efforts increase around the world, a vital piece to community support and engagement in the process is communication from producers to their consumers. This project evaluates communications and outreach efforts in Columbus, Ohio from urban food producers. Food production requires an understanding of a variety of scientific concepts ranging from soil and plant health to garden ecology, made even more complex by the urban environment. As such, the outreach strategies utilized by urban producers is a form of science communications. I employed multiple methods for data collection, including interviews, site visits of urban/suburban food production areas, and a thorough social media/website review of several urban gardens. The social media and website inventory can be used as a template to improve digital communications, while interviews and site visits provided a local background and understanding of physical communication efforts from the gardens. Preliminary findings show that the urban garden groups employ a variety of communication strategies including flyers, social media, websites, and oral communication. In the future, we hope to create a model for a wide-ranging communications plan to guide other urban producers in improving their science communications through evaluating each of these strategies.

I evaluated the communications and outreach methods of urban farms in Columbus, Ohio. Food production requires an understanding of a variety of scientific concepts such as soil and plant health. To explain these concepts to the general public, the farms relied on strategies ranging from posters and events to social media and websites. My project gathered these various communications materials with the intention of evaluating their effectiveness to create a communications model that other urban farms could use to improve their communications and outreach programs.