PIT talk by Peter Lyle on Growing Food in Brisbane: A Study across Interaction Design and Urban Agriculture

2015.09.24 | Marianne Dammand Iversen

Date Mon 28 Sep
Time 12:15 13:00
Location 5335-395


Growing food in urban environments is a form of urban agriculture, practised individually and in groups. In a world with sophisticated industrial scale agriculture in rural spaces and rising costs of land in urban environments, growing food in urban environments involves a degree of effort on the part of gardeners. Encouraging residents to begin and continue gardening has a number of documented positive impacts on areas such as: health, food security, poverty alleviation, and ecological sustainability.

The study of urban agriculture from an interaction design perspective is a recent phenomenon as part of the community of human-computer interaction researchers interested in questions of sustainability. This presents an opportunity to understand the ways that individuals and community groups engage in gardening and with each other.

Peter conducted three studies in Brisbane, Australia that explored urban growing, two of which focused on established urban agriculture communities: Northey Street City Farm, a city farm north of the city; and Permablitz Brisbane, an event-based grassroots movement; and the third into the practices of residential gardeners. The three studies explored different types of urban agriculture, which represent a spectrum of community size (individuals, small localised groups, and a community organisation), and of garden scale (balcony, backyard, and city farms). In addition to the findings of each individual study, this research contributes to the development of design patterns for interaction designers, as well as informing the design of a story telling artefact QuickTales.

The findings of each study highlight several aspects of urban agriculture practice, including: issues of managing resources, be it time or volunteers; the importance and focus on what is local, from community participation in events to sourcing materials and the relevance of information; and, the importance of social connections to sharing experiences about gardening. These are reflected in the eight design patterns that target the social, information and resources aspects of gardening.


Peter Lyle recently completed his PhD with the Urban Informatics Research Lab, in the School of Design at Queensland University of Technology. His research interests sit at the intersection of computing and social interaction, currently with a focus on food and agriculture. His research is connected to the ‘Eat, Cook, Grow: Ubiquitous Technology for Sustainable Food Culture Attitudes in the City’ study funded by ARC Linkage. In his PhD study, Peter focused on supporting HCI practitioners to engage with food growing communities.

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