With their variety of plant species and the experience of the gardeners, rural home gardens constitute an integral component of the cultivated landscape in the Lienz district, East Tyrol. Together with pupils of the BG/BRG Lienz school (and biology, math/physics and English teachers), scientists are investigating rural home gardens, including stocks of plant species and the use of plants. These results will be compared with those taken 20 years ago from the same gardens and will help to identify changes in gardens and their cultivation. These diachronic perspectives allow a precise and empirically established overview of changes in rural home gardens in the countryside of an industrial and services-focused state, in the context of demographic and economic changes and the search for a new identity.
To gain a better understanding of the local perception of the significance of rural home gardens, observations from gardeners and their neighbours concerning ecosystem services in gardens and their significance will also be recorded.
The project will also investigate cultivation techniques that adapt to extreme weather or ensure sustainable growth. It will also find out why people grow gardens and which values and approaches guide their behaviour or actions in gardens.
As part of an additional citizen science module, the local population in East Tyrol and Oberen Drautal will be combined. The module appeals to gardeners who are interested in taking surveys in their gardens, according to methodological direction and by monitoring their gardens, so as to demonstrate the material and immaterial ecosystem services in gardens. These gardeners and the cooperating young people will be trained in simple quantitative and qualitative survey methods for this purpose. This will take into account the opportunities that depend on the education and experience of each individual participant.
The starting point for developing analogue survey tools for the researching gardeners is a universal T-card office planner (49 x 47.3 cm, 7 panels, light grey) with 20 slots and 7 columns. The card slot system provides a weekday structure (Monday to Sunday), an hourly structure (6 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and six variables for recording ecosystem services.
On the universal T-card planner, the gardeners use the provided weekday and time scales with differently coloured slots to record the following specific information in writing about the individual ecosystem services during the recording period:
The time spent in the garden will be recorded with a simple stopwatch. Some plant materials will be weighed out with simple, easily available kitchen scales. The card slots will be placed somewhere protected from weather or positioned where they are in the gardener’s view. This location will be decided on site with the gardener.
The duration of collections using the card slot system will be calculated at at least a week and will then be passed on to another gardener. Seven card slot systems will be prepared. The recordings ran from 1 August to 31 August 2018.
Through the participation of citizen scientists, a continuous observation and record of local perception (emic viewpoint) of the ecosystem services of home gardens is guaranteed. The methods were proposed by a gardener from the region being researched and were discussed/considered together with other gardeners from the area. The citizen scientists were actively involved in data acquisition and collection, data analysis and interpretation and the publication of results in the project report, scientific journals and conferences and in local media (dolomitenstadt.at). The collected data was continuously documented and stored by scientific guardians. Interim and final results were returned to the participating gardeners as part of the “give back” culture in the citizen science final event (“Gartenfest”).
BG/BRG Lienz (Renate Hölzl, Arno Oberegger, Hansjörg Schönfelder and the pupils of class 6b (from academic year 2018/2019: 7b).
Marie-Luise Wohlmuth (workshops on soil biology)
Ramona Walder (photography)
Peter Werlberger (video)
Gerhard Pirkner (dolomitenstadt.at)
Germain Weber & Team (Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna)
Christian Ragger (REVITAL - Integrative Naturraumplanung GmbH)
(Click on an image to enlarge)