Seedspace | a tool to connect people to gardens in a city
Visual Language & Illustrations
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.
How might we reconnect urban dwellers back to the land and the food they consume?
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. View our UI Spec.
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 the next visit, or communicate with others through the message function.
Host a garden.
A dashboard is available which allows host to add or edit garden profiles. They can include specific requirements during the posting process and approve visiting hours throughout the season.
City dwellers are disconnected from food production.
We initially discussed the role that food waste plays on our environment and conducted research on behaviors around food consumption and waste. We became curious about how we might use technology to focus back to the land, to reconnect with nature, and to build a grassroots community around food.
A sense of play motivates some people to try new things.
Literature review and various observation methods allowed us to build a working knowledge of behaviors around food waste, food dignity, sharing culture, participation, and play. Our big takeaways 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.
Cities have a shortage of community gardens.
We discovered that many cities have come to realize the benefit of establishing community gardens, which allows a select group of neighbors access to a small plot within a shared garden. Despite the benefit community gardens provide, they are few and far in between. For example, community gardens, known as P-patches, 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 the opportunity to garden in a city.
Using our insights gained from primary research, we explored 30 different concepts around food sharing; from a neighborhood food share, to renting a share in an automated farm, to a smart bowl that suggests meals based on content in the refrigerator. The goal was to stay broad and consider as many ideas as possible, and 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.
Humanizing the experience
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 incorporated. Below is a storyboard I made that most closely aligns with our final design solution.
Learning about behavior patterns
We conducted semi-structured interviews with five participants with a goal of better understanding how connected they feel to the food they eat and if the concept of a gardening community fits into their current lifestyle and behavior.
Testing the concept
We later tested our concept with the same five participants using paper prototypes and Think Aloud protocol. 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.
- The concept of renting gardens makes sense in an urban environment
- Starting a system from scratch poses trust issues
- Users want detailed control over the search function
Refining our interactions
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 not.
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. My goal through crafting the illustrations was to paint a picture of a world that people could be a part of virtually or physically.
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.
Creating a product from scratch within 10 weeks taught us how to work well within constraints and prioritize tasks and expectations. Rapid research, constant ideation and careful decision making helped us balance between a broad scope and a tight timeframe. 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 a community. I am confident that many of the lessons learned can be translated to my next mobile project.
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.
Conduct more user testing.
By further testing out our final prototype, we would gain insight and fill voids in our logic that we were unable to address due to time and the limitations of our own perspectives.
Interview more people.
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.