Kristina Rakestraw
Kristina Rakestraw
Seedspace.jpg

Seedspace | connecting people to gardens in a city

Seedspace is a platform that connects communities through green spaces.

Seedspace.jpg
 
 

Seedspace | connecting people to gardens in a city

 
 
 

TIMELINE
Fall 2017
10 weeks  

TEAM
Kristina Rakestraw
Suwei Yang
Duminda Aluthgamage

PROJECT FOCUS
Ideation
 

MY CONTRIBUTION
Co-led Interaction Design
Led Visual Language
Created Illustrations
Project Management

DELIVERABLES
Design Specification
Design Presentation

 
 
 
 
 
 

The Problem

There is a lack of access to garden space in a city.

Within a city, there are many people who have access to garden space, and many who don't. Oftentimes the people who have access to land don't always take full advantage of this opportunity, so there's this gap between those who want to garden but can’t, and those who could but don’t.  

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How might we reconnect urban dwellers back to the land and the food they consume?

 
 
 

Final Concept 

 
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Seedspace is a garden share application that connects city dwellers to green spaces to rent, host and search for gardens. It not only helps build community and agricultural awareness, but provides alternatives to food production — reducing carbon footprint and food waste.

 
 
 
 

Key Features

Search for a garden. 

Search for a plot nearby, explore and learn from other gardeners or send a request to a host to become a gardener.

Tend a garden.

A dashboard is available for gardeners to rate their experience, schedule their next visit, or communicate with others through the message function.

Host a garden. 

A dashboard is available to allow the host to add or edit garden profiles. Hosts can include specific rules and requirements during the posting process and approve visiting hours throughout the season.

 
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  Find a nearby garden   Search for a nearby garden, and apply for a plot to garden.

Find a nearby garden

Search for a nearby garden, and apply for a plot to garden.

  Schedule a visit   Schedule a visit for your host to accept, or plan a co-garden session with other gardeners.

Schedule a visit

Schedule a visit for your host to accept, or plan a co-garden session with other gardeners.

  Message others   Ask questions, express concerns, or share your garden knowledge with others.

Message others

Ask questions, express concerns, or share your garden knowledge with others.

  Post and manage a plot   Create or manage a garden post to provide land and resources for others to garden.

Post and manage a plot

Create or manage a garden post to provide land and resources for others to garden.

 
 

Research Approach

 

Goals

Our research goals were to understand behaviors around food. We looked into concepts such as sharing, food dignity, and participation. We also looked at case studies focused around food waste and distribution. This lead us to consider concepts of smart communities, where excess food or land is distributed to those in need.

View our Initial Research.

Methods

Research 01.jpg

We researched food habits and sharing culture.

Research 02.jpg

We observed urban behavior.

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We studied how play influences behavior and participation.  

 
 
 
 

Research Insights

 

City dwellers are disconnected from food production.  

 

We looked into the role that food waste plays on our environment and gained a deeper understanding of behaviors around food consumption and waste. Our research findings made us more curious about how we can use technology to focus back to the land, to reconnect with nature, and to build a grassroots community around food.

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A sense of play motivates some people to try new things.

Our big takeaways from observation studies were that people are more willing to take part in new activities when others are present or, more importantly, when there is an element of play involved.   

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Cities have a shortage of community gardens.

Many cities have come to recognize the benefits of creating community gardens, which allows a select group of neighbors access to a small plot within a shared garden. Despite the advantages of community gardens, such as building community and environmental awareness, they are few and far in between. For example, community gardens in Seattle generally have a long waiting list. Over 45% of the gardens have a wait time longer than 1 year. This keeps people without land of their own from an opportunity to garden in a city.

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Generating Ideas

 

Concept sketches

 

Using our insights gained from initial research, we explored 30 different concepts around food sharing; ranging from a neighborhood food share, renting a share in an automated farm, or a smart bowl that suggests meals based on content in a refrigerator. Our goal was to stay broad and consider as many ideas as possible — in order to think beyond the obvious. We eventually down-selected to solutions that were focused less on technology and more on bringing people together to build community around food. Below are a few of the ideas I came up with.   

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  Farm to Apartment   This is a platform for a more direct food distribution between farmers and city dwellers.

Farm to Apartment

This is a platform for a more direct food distribution between farmers and city dwellers.

  Neighborhood Food Share   Local foods are either distributed or prepared and warm meals are picked up or enjoyed in a neighbor’s dining room.

Neighborhood Food Share

Local foods are either distributed or prepared and warm meals are picked up or enjoyed in a neighbor’s dining room.

  Customizable CSA Box   Allowing a consumer to specify the quantity or size of a particular produce minimizes avoidable trips to the grocery store and food waste.

Customizable CSA Box

Allowing a consumer to specify the quantity or size of a particular produce minimizes avoidable trips to the grocery store and food waste.

  Farm Rent   People are able to rent a portion of a farm for their own consumption, as well as a community platform of renters to trade or buy food.

Farm Rent

People are able to rent a portion of a farm for their own consumption, as well as a community platform of renters to trade or buy food.

  Foodmation   Using a surface mounted smart light projector that is calibrated for a surface below, this food recognition tool suggests recipes.

Foodmation

Using a surface mounted smart light projector that is calibrated for a surface below, this food recognition tool suggests recipes.

 
  Memory Bowl   Smart bowl is a voice activated product that reminds apartment dwellers of food they already have. Live scanners are placed within the refrigerator, and food suggestions are learned, saved or suggested.

Memory Bowl

Smart bowl is a voice activated product that reminds apartment dwellers of food they already have. Live scanners are placed within the refrigerator, and food suggestions are learned, saved or suggested.

  Food Container   Using refrigerated shipping containers and/or modular greenhouse components, Food Container is a new way of transporting food or constructing gardens from anywhere.

Food Container

Using refrigerated shipping containers and/or modular greenhouse components, Food Container is a new way of transporting food or constructing gardens from anywhere.

  Food Interstitial   This concept relies on the use of existing buildings, carving out a corner of a new high rise building, or taking advantage of underutilized green space for growing, selling and trading food.

Food Interstitial

This concept relies on the use of existing buildings, carving out a corner of a new high rise building, or taking advantage of underutilized green space for growing, selling and trading food.

 
 
 
 

Narrowing Ideas

Humanizing the experience through storyboards

 

We crafted stories of six ideas in order to ground these ideas in context and flesh out the high level thinking. In doing so, we were able to humanize our ideas and consider the broader interactions that would need to be incorporated. Below is a storyboard I made that most closely aligns with our final design solution.

 
 
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Prototyping

Semi-structured interviews  

 
 

Prior to testing our prototypes, we conducted semi-structured interviews with our five participants. Our goal was to better understand how connected they feel to food and nature, their views around sharing cultures, and whether or not a gardening community fits into their current lifestyle.   

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Paper prototyping

We then tested three concepts with the same five participants using paper prototypes and Think Aloud protocol. We tested three different ideas: 

  • Seedspace: a garden share application

  • Toy Pot: a voice activated gardening pot to teach people how to garden

  • FruitXchange: a smart food exchange system to avoid food waste

After analyzing and synthesizing the experiences engaged through our paper prototype testing, we were able to better define user needs and goals. Based on the feedback we received, we moved forward and began our more in depth user flows of a gardening based application.

Insights from Participants

  • The concept of renting gardens makes sense in an urban environment

  • Starting a system from scratch poses trust issues

  • Detailed control over the search function is desired

  • An awareness of who else is involved in a garden and their visiting schedule is important

Seedspace - Interview Tester Copy.png
 
 
 Seedspace Paper Prototype

Seedspace Paper Prototype

 
 
 

Click-through Prototype

We created click-through wireframes to flesh out potential barriers to task completion, mismatched interactions, and to help decipher what screens were critical to the overall experience and which ones were unessential. View our three click-through flows: (1) First Time User, (2) Tending a Garden, and (3) Hosting a Garden.   

 
 
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Illustrations and Visual Design

Crafting an enchanting language

I created the identity and language to add a playful element, which I thought to be an important aspect of encouraging positive behavioral change and bringing a sense of comfort. 

 
 
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Results

Refining the details

We created a design specification that includes hero flows that demonstrate some of the overarching interactions for three typical use cases. We also developed an application map, wireflows for all 75+ screens, and a visual style guide. 

 
 
 

Reflection

Creating a product from scratch within 10 weeks taught us how to work well within constraints, prioritize tasks and manage expectations. Rapid research, constant ideation and careful decision making helped us balance between a broad scope and a tight timeframe. We communicated really well as a team, always open to considering one another's unique perspectives, making each task much more enjoyable to undertake and infusing a sense of flow into the design process. Even though this is not a product that can be launched tomorrow, it was a valuable experience to conceptualize how technology can be used in a grassroots approach to building community. One of the challenges we faced was in how to build trust within a new system. We incorporated a rating system and addressed privacy and safety concerns through an in app scheduler. 

 
 

Future Exploration

Conduct more user testing.

By further testing out our final prototype, we could gain insight and fill voids in our logic that we were unable to address due to time and the limitations of our own experience.

Interview people who work for the city.

We hope to discuss this concept with stakeholders in different cities to understand how a system like Seedspace might best integrate into current regulations and future planning.

Consider further developing these features:

 
 
  • Seeds of Knowledge: Further develop our vision of an educational component for people who might not participate in gardening to still to learn about gardening, food and the environment.

  • Offer Food Experience: Allow users to host food experiences, such as cooking lessons, tasting, or community dinners to reach a wider audience.

  • Garden for Pay: Address the scenario of someone wanting local produce, but not wanting to garden themselves by opening up the possibility of paying for gardening services.