Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological SciencesRutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

Gardening the Garden State

Integrating Re-Use of Abandoned Properties for Healthy Food Options in Trenton, New Jersey

Principal Investigator: Laura Lawson

Co-Principal Investigators: Beth Ravit; Luke Drake

This project is a partnership between the Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability (CUES) and Isles to examine redevelopment potential of properties in Trenton for food-related uses. It is organized into three phases: geographic information systems (GIS) modeling; field mapping of properties; and community surveys through questionnaires and focus groups.

GIS Modeling. The first phase of the project involved suitability analyses that identified parts of the city and specific properties based on selected social and environmental criteria. Students in the Advanced Geomatics course developed four models, which were then provided to Isles for future modification and use.

Field Mapping. The second phase involves CUES interns who are working over the summer of 2014 to catalog and update abandoned property data in Trenton. Teams of interns work with volunteers from the community to collect data with mobile GIS technology. Data will then be used to update the database used in the models developed above. These parcel data will also be used by Isles and the City of Trenton for a range of future planning efforts.

Community Surveys. The third phase engages community gardeners, teachers, and non-gardeners to assess existing and potential land uses, and how community members currently interact with various food system elements. Questionnaires will collect demographic data and information about how community gardens are used; focus groups will look in-depth at how community members link land use and food.