For my final project, I chose to focus on NYC’s community gardens. Over the last few weeks, I have been walking throughout my neighborhood and I saw several community gardens and I was interested in discovering more information about them. I wanted to know how many there were throughout the boroughs, which borough and neighborhood had the most gardens, as well as which particular organization was in charge of the garden. I was excited to discover as many insights on these community gardens as I could.
To begin my project, I had to find data on NYC community gardens so I went to the NYC Open Data website and did a search for gardens. I came across a dataset entitled “NYC Greenthumb Community Gardens” and downloaded it as a CSV file. In order to visualize the data, I chose to use Carto, an open-source visualization software where users can run analysis and design custom maps. I also used Tableau, a free data visualization tool that allows users to publish their visualizations to the web, to create my graphs and charts.
First, I wanted to see if there were any interactive maps or visualizations of community gardens in New York City. I did a Google search with the keywords “nyc community gardens” and came across the NYC Parks GreenThumb website. I saw that there was an interactive map visualization of the community gardens throughout the city. I liked how the map showed the gardens with a distinctive green dot and this served as inspiration for my own Carto visualization.
Next, I looked at my csv file dataset and saw that there were many blank spaces in the “neighborhood” column.
I proceeded to fill in this column by using the NYC GreenThumb website and also google searches by each garden’s address.
Next, I imported my dataset into Carto and began to create my map. I chose the Voyager layout for my map as it worked the best for how I wanted to visualize the data. I then changed the color of the points on the map to green because it seemed to be the perfect color to symbolize gardens. I then changed the point size to 9.
I then created a pop-up attribute so that a user can click on a point and receive additional information about that community garden. I added the garden name, address, neighborhood, and jurisdiction to the pop-up.
Next, I took a look at the map and made sure it had everything that I wanted displayed then published it to Carto.
After finishing my map, I now wanted to create various charts and graphs in Tableau with my csv file. I imported the dataset into Tableau and started to create graphs that answered questions that I had. The first one was the total number of community gardens by boroughs. I was able to see that Brooklyn had the most with 226 followed by Manhattan which had 151. I also saw that Staten Island had the fewest with only 4.
Next, I wanted to know which neighborhoods had the most community gardens and I utilized a treemap to show that information. I discovered that in Brooklyn, East New York had the most community gardens with 54 and was followed by Bed-Stuy with 51. In Manhattan, the East Village neighborhood had the most community gardens with 36 followed by East Harlem with 32. In the Bronx, the Mott Haven neighborhood had the most community gardens with a total of 20. In Queens, the Jamaica neighborhood had the most community gardens with 10.
Next, I wanted to see which particular institution or organization had jurisdiction over community gardens and which one had the most. I created a bar chart and I was able to see that the NYC Parks Department had the most jurisdiction over community gardens throughout the boroughs with 270 followed by the Department of Education with 100. I was surprised to see that there were 64 community gardens that fell under the jurisdiction of Trust for Public Land.
Now that I could see the organizations that had jurisdiction over these community gardens, I then wanted to create a jurisdiction breakdown of community gardens in the East New York neighborhood. I created another bar chart and discovered that the New York Parks Department had jurisdiction over 43 community gardens followed by the Department of Education with 5 in East New York.
For this project, I conducted an interview with two participants who both volunteered at a community garden in the boroughs. Before starting my map creation, I asked one participant what would they like to see on a map of NYC community gardens. She listed a variety of information such as:
- The name of the garden
- The address of the garden
- The neighborhood where the garden is located
- Type of garden (produce, ornamental, playspace)
After creating my visualizations, I interviewed both participants for feedback on design and overall readability. They both found the map to be easy to use and they liked the pop-up feature. They also viewed my Tableau charts and found the visualizations to be informative and were both surprised by the findings including the number of community gardens throughout East New York and Bed-Stuy.
Overall, I found this project to be both fun and interesting to complete. Initially, I was discouraged by the neighborhood column missing data in the csv file. It took some time to get all the information to fill out the column, but once that was done everything else was simple to do. I found it very helpful to include research participants that volunteered at community gardens in the process because they provided insightful questions and information that helped me create my visualizations.
In the future, I would like to incorporate the type of community garden (produce, ornamental, playspace) into the visualizations. I did see that the dataset and the NYC Parks GreenThumb website did not list the types of community gardens and discovered that it would take additional research to find out this information for all 536 community gardens.