Researchers at the University of Sussex in England – known as Team PollinATE – plan to compare local growing methods with those used 5,000 miles away in the Indian city of Kolkata. Team PollinATE aims to recruit volunteers to become “citizen scientists” to help collect data on food grown in the local area in an effort to find out how urban food growing contributes to sustainable local food production in each country.
“Approximately one fifth of the world’s food is grown in urban areas, yet we know surprisingly little about how it is produced. That’s why we want to work with growers to collect data on pollinators and pests visiting their growing spaces and to quantify how much food urban gardens and allotments can provide,” said lead scientist, Beth Nicholls. “Throughout the summer, growers will conduct short surveys of the insects visiting their flowering crops, which will help us to understand more about pollinator behavior and how best to conserve these important insects. Surveys should only take around ten minutes to complete and no prior knowledge of pollinators is needed as training will be provided. Volunteers will also be given a diary which they can use to record any pests they encounter and keep track of the weight of food harvested from their crops. We even have a handy app which will tell growers exactly how much their harvest is worth.”
The University stated: “This is the second year the project has run and the organizers hope to build on the success of last summer which saw Brighton and Hove volunteers survey over 17,000 flowers, count 850 pollinating insects and discover they had grown £425 ($600 US) worth of food on average.”