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Home » Biology Articles » Ethnobiology » Tools and Methods for Data Collection in Ethnobotanical Studies of Homegardens » Equipment

- Tools and Methods for Data Collection in Ethnobotanical Studies of Homegardens

The equipment for fieldwork in homegardens differs little from that used in ethnobotanical studies in general (Martin 1995; Alexiades and Sheldon 1996; Cotton 1996). Here are a few recommendations for using equipment in the European contexts in which we now work. The student of homegardens must be prepared to work at a moment’s notice. Gardens and gardeners are everywhere. There is nothing more disappointing than being at a dinner party made solely from garden produce without a camera or the means to record a discussion with the host about their garden. So, we keep our car packed with equipment and are ready for any opportunity to collect data. Wecarry the following items with us at all times during our field research.

• our research diary;

• audio recording set with sufficient tapes and batteries, all having been tested;

• picture-recording equipment (one camera for slides and another for digital shots; camera for video sequences) with sufficient film and batteries; Polarizing, UV, and color filters, light meters, external flash; black marker pen, 15-cm scale, and a miniature whiteboard to indicate date, location, and name of plant in the image itself. We develop film regularly so that we can detect any camera malfunction at an early stage;

• plant press with all the required materials (such as labels, pencils, newspaper, cardboard, ventilators, dryers, etc.), including scissors, a trowel, and plant clippers to harvest the plant (see also Martin 1995; Alexiades and Sheldon 1996; Cotton 1996);

• data sheets and field book; pencil is still the writing implement of choice (we do not assume that all permanent pens are rainproof); Rite-in-the-Rain notebooks are a safe choice;

• list of names and contact details (address, telephone number) of all our respondents in the study area;

• a large plastic sheet, tarpaulin, or poncho to cover ourselves and all our equipment in case of unexpected rain, especially if gardens are in remote areas accessible only by foot or bicycle and where it is impossible to seek shelter in a car or house;

• relevant field guides and reference books for on-the-spot identification of unknown plant species;

• copies of letters of introduction (in plastic covers) that explain our aims and methods, with details of our identity and institutional background, including a telephone number where we can be reached if someone has questions or wishes to discuss the project;

• a map of the study area, preferably topographic and high resolution; a remotely sensed image or aerial photographs of the whole study area;

• a telephone book to contact people recommended to us as potential respondents or experts on particular subjects;

• empty plastic and paper bags of many shapes and all sizes, wire twists, duct tape or other means to seal bags and boxes, and a permanent pen to store and label seeds and other artifacts; and

• water, snacks, insect repellent, suntan lotion, and a hat. We are not currently working in the tropics, but even in Lower Austria, a hot summer day and mosquitoes can make field research in gardens torturous if we are not properly dressed and equipped.

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