Simple, appropriate technologies for great garden outcomes:
Meeting your environmental goals is easier when you track your progress and use what you learn to improve your practices--and results--over time. The basic cycle of "adaptive co-management" (pardon the jargon) is goal setting, action, monitoring, reflection, and adaptation. Read more about a season's worth of activities here: http://publiclab.org/wiki/gardening-toolkit-events. There are three parts to the urban gardening toolkit:
1. pole aerial mapping
Change your perspective! Map your garden plot and use it for planning the season and tracking changes through the years.
2. infrared imagery
See plants photosynthesizing. Experiment with cultivation methods and see which types of plants thrive.
3. program tracking
Growing tons of food? Composting? Collecting rainwater? Coordinating work among lots of volunteers? Taste-testing veggies with kids? Cooking healthy or culturally significant recipes? Beautifying your block? Ameliorating the mental health of your visitors?
If you're tackling these or other programs in your urban green space, perhaps you've thought about trying to keep track of the outcomes. There can be a lot of moving pieces and a nearly infinite options for program designs. But if your programs seek to address any of the above broad goals, there's a simple, gardener-developed toolkit that has been in development since 2009 by Farming Concrete, an open, community-based research project started by gardeners to measure how much food is grown in New York City’s community gardens and school gardens. in 2013 this project was expanded through the efforts of Five Borough Farm (http://publiclab.org/wiki/5bf), a project of the Design Trust for Public Space. In the pilot phase of Five Borough Farm, 25 gardeners collaborated to categorize the major program areas that are active in community gardens and create easy, outdoors-compatible tracking protocols.