SEEDS OF SYDNEY Community GARDENING APP
The team comprising of Kylie Mak and myself, looked into Sydney Community Gardens to see if there was a way to enhance the overall experience.
The majority of apartment dwellers in Sydney lack contact with nature and have limited access to gardens. This may lead to a potential disconnection with the community and the natural environment.
To cultivate a vibrant community where knowledge and experience is shared by connecting people with their closest community garden.
Existing avenues were looked into to find the current method of joining the gardens. We found the council and government websites difficult to navigate, clunky and pages often didn’t link. The main way to join a garden is by emailing the gardens organisers, the organisers are volunteers so hearing back from them can take some time. We also found some of the listed emails addresses didn’t work at all.
We visited the Cooper Park community garden to see first hand how the garden was run and used. There were several free plots but no information displayed anywhere about the gardens or how to join them. This let us know that there was room to expand the users and reinforced our thoughts that information on the gardens need to be more available.
Interviews with 10 users was carried out with varied interest and experience in gardening. We wanted to understand what the perceptions, and demand might be of the gardens. Some key takeaways and quotes are shown below.
Personas were created with our interview findings to further understand the users and be able to address their needs. Our primary persona is Bert Tasill, the novice gardener.
A journey map was created for Bert (the primary persona) to help us understand the stages he might go through in accessing the gardens. This helped us to work out the steps we needed to take to make this happen.
SEEDS OF SYDNEY
To make a smoother, synthesised experience for community gardens Seeds of Sydney was created. Putting all of the information about Sydney’s community gardens under one roof.
Engaging the user, from user research we found that people were unaware that there was a garden in their area, as gardens are often tucked away in the inner suburbs. To spread awareness branded Seeds of Sydney seed packets would be distributed with a QR code linking them to a download for the app.
The MVP for the app was created and tested. The main function is to register the users and help them find and join their closest garden. We quickly learned that the screens we made were too pushy. We realised the user needed to feel guided and not pushed.
Second iteration we felt that with the second iteration we solved many of the issues the first one bought up. It was feeling quite sparse and it needed to be fleshed out to make the users want to come back.
Third iteration we continued to tweak the MVP of finding and booking a garden plot continued to be refined.
We added in a community chat section, using the Slack as a reference.
Weather updates, from a collaboration with BOM would let the users now how much rainfall has occurred over their garden and notifying them if they might need to water their plants.
We plan on doing more user testing, specifically to see if a “Veggie Swapper” feature is needed, or if the Slack Seeds of Sydney chat would be sufficient.
We’d also like to look into a gamification feature of a virtual garden that reflects how the users plot is growing. The user would provide updates on watering and feeding their plants, other factors would be taken into account like the type of produce and the areas weather to work out how the plants are growing, and if and how they need to be tended to.
A learning point from this project was that in the future, we would immediately start contact Subject Matter Experts. Being busy professionals the waiting time to hear back from them was longer than expected and we heard back from some of the garden organisers after it was too late.
Kylie and I worked really well together, combining our different strengths, learning from each other, and producing a project and outcome that we were both happy with.