Evaluating the preferences and level of participation of the academic community in urban agriculture: the case of University of Sistan and Baluchestan

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of the Handicraft, Faculty of Arts, University of Birjand, South Khorasan, Iran

2 Department of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Geography and Environmental Planning, University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran


Introduction: The Edible Campus program incorporates edible, medicinal, and pollinator-friendly plants in the university to create a kind of working landscape and facilitate campus community engagement in topics of food and agriculture sustainability. In this regard, an inventory of community support and culture is crucial for finding the motivation of participating in the targeted community in the edible landscape project. This study aims to give insights into the inventory of community support and preferences in the campus edible landscape. To achieve this objective, we considered the University of Sistan and Baluchestan as the case study to address the community support and community culture that affect urban agriculture. While the study on urban agriculture projects can be conducted during three phases, this study focused on the pre-implementation stage. It means that we tried to co-create visions of the edible campus, specifically for the University of Sistan and Baluchestan to be used in the next step of the edible campus project.
Material and methods: In this applied and descriptive research, using stratified random sampling method with proportional assignment, 530 people were selected from a total of 18,450 university members (including 17,000 students, 1,000 staff, and 450 faculty members) using the PASS specialized software for determining the sample size. The questionnaires were completed through the Google Form survey in the spring and summer of 2020. All inferential statistical analyzes were performed by SPSS23. For research questions and objectives in the descriptive statistics section, graphs and statistical tables were used. Due to the high sample size (n=530), the normal probability plots (p-p plots) were used to check the normality of data distribution, which was not confirmed. Therefore, non-parametric tests such as Mann-Whitney, Wilcoxon, and Friedman were used to test the research hypotheses at a significance level of 0.05.
Results and discussion: The results showed that the mental health and food produced in the university were the most important motivations of the studied community in edible campus participation. It was also found that potential volunteers were not a monolithic group. There were statistically significant differences in the frequency of expression of potential volunteer motivations among respondent demographic segments. Based on the findings of our study, the more interested group in terms of potential volunteerism were students, females, and 20-30 aged groups. On the other hand, our study proved that the potential volunteerism capacity of the university community will not be enough for the establishment and sustainability of the edible campus. Concerning the spatial structure and landscape elements, based on the results of this study, an establishment of agricultural space and fruit orchard (82.3%), and water fountain and pool (75.3%) would provide the studied community with the desirable edible campus. In this regard, our study suggests incorporating three types of edible-bearing plants including fruit trees, vegetables, and medicinal herbs in the upcoming edible campus project.
Conclusion: Iranian university managers can use such data to help shape the community culture and support of their university to a more inclusive and diverse edible campus makeup. Additionally, these findings may contribute to the study and practice of edible campus management by suggesting means for more effective member recruitment based on the particular motivations of different member demographics. In the case of the University of Sistan and Baluchestan, considerable staff and volunteer time will be needed to ensure consistent landscape care. It is also essential that university managers and decision-makers attempt to provide potential volunteers with appropriate training opportunities, resources, as well as demonstrate appreciation, to further encourage and solidify volunteer engagements in the edible campus.


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