Last week I was able to get 2 more organization garden surveys, did 2 more this week and I have 2 more on the books next week. My assistants have also managed to secure some more survey meetings (still slow but at least its still not at a stand still).
The situation with the individual gardens has picked-up, but we still seem to be at a dead-end with the missing community gardens (trying to call everyday hoping to get a response).
I also downloaded all of the survey responses we have collected to date and started to “process” the questions into usable P numbers and other types of information. I found it necessary to go through each survey, question by question, with who ever administered the survey with the paper copy of the responses. Although I have shown both my assistants how to input data and done a number of surveys with them, they both did some surveys on their own (which is kind of the whole point of having help), and I didn’t feel comfortable not verifying all the data myself. I wanted to make sure there were no transcription errors, but more importantly, I realized that some pieces of information that are key to processing were missing in some cases and I needed to know why. There are many possible sources of bias and error with surveys, and I wanted to make sure we are minimizing all of those sources in our control. Basically, I wanted to minimize any bias or uncertainty that was linked to the survey administrator and not the survey taker (We can’t control if people don’t know the quantity of compost they produce or use, but we can make sure that we have taken copious notes on what they do know and make sure we have asked questions to get as much information on inputs and other relevant information). I realized very quickly that without the brand-name, weight, and N:P:K ratio of commercial inputs, the assumptions I needed to make to go from survey answers to P applied were a little big. I thus decided some of the surveys my assistants did needed to be completed by recontacting survey-takers. I want to be absolutely sure we have done our due diligence.
With other questions, which I already know will not yield P numbers, but give insight on management practices that do affect P flows, I need to process the data so that yes and no answers become 1 and 0’s and weight them by number of gardens, by area, and by type. It is exciting to start seeing a glimpse of the fruit of our labor. I will need to redo the data processing at the end of the season, as I plan on calling a fair amount of survey-takers back to confirm harvest numbers and check if they added any other inputs.