Visual Learning Media for Deaf New American Farming

Final report for FNE21-981

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2021: $14,772.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Salt City Harvest Farm
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Jacob Gigler
Salt City Harvest Farm
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Project Information

Summary:

Salt City Harvest Farm (SCHF) set out to create an educational resource for the Deaf New American Community to learn agricultural skills. We utilized sign language and focused on creating videos and photos strong in visuals. Many Deaf New Americans don't have strong English language literacy and the importance of visuals aids support their education. We worked within the Deaf community to gain insights into best practices for education. We showed drafts of our created content to 16 Deaf New American farmers and 5 interpreters within the Deaf Community. We found that American Sign Language isn't enough and created the same set of 12 videos in Nepali Sign Language as well. A companion photo guide is in the process of being created, but we need another year to continue work on it. Completed videos have been posted on Youtube and will be embedded on our website in the near future. We expect the videos to reach people all over the country, and perhaps the world.

Project Objectives:

This project sought to create a visual farm manual for SCHF that can be adapted and utilized by others working with the Deaf Community. Content includes short ‘how-to’ videos with intros in both American Sign Language and Nepali Sign Language. A companion photo guide was planned to be created that goes through best practices. The photo guide still needs a little work and will be completed and shared in the future. Content will be focused on different aspects of a farming activity. The manual will take viewers through the growing season starting with crop planning, seeding, transplanting, harvest, post-harvest handling, and marketing. 

Objective 1: To create a total of 12 videos highlighting best practices, tools, and techniques for efficient vegetable production and sales for the Deaf Community. 

Objective 2: To create a companion photo guide to supplement videos, to be shared with Deaf farmers at SCHF and beyond. 

Objective 3: To enhance 13 farmers’ knowledge and skills in vegetable production and marketing at SCHF. 

 

Introduction:

The Deaf Community around the world has faced generations of systemic discrimination and oppression. The relationship between the hearing community and the Deaf Community has often been strained due to the continued lack of understanding of the Deaf Community and its values. SCHF has three years of experience working closely with Deaf New Americans (DNAs) in solving the problems and overcoming the barriers that have limited them from starting farming. These efforts have been guided by three primary commitments. First, inclusion and equity in the farm programs requires a commitment to providing interpretation/translation services at all levels -- from meetings to daily routine. This is particularly challenging because many DNAs have culturally specific sign languages (not ASL) and/or because they were discriminated against, they often did not receive education in their own written languages. This requires someone who knows the home or unique sign language systems for different groups as well as ASL. Second, the efforts are informed and led by members of the community. Third, the efforts are on the ground, practice based, and adaptive.

At SCHF, Deaf New American farmers face the challenges of adapting to a new climate from their homelands, communicating with the hearing community, and adapting to a new agricultural market and landscape. Growing and selling food in general can be challenging, but being deaf while farming can present its own challenges. There isn’t much agricultural content that serves the Deaf and hard of hearing community. 

To address these challenges, SCHF is created a visual video series that demonstrates production basics (e.g. soil, seeds, crop plans, irrigation, weed management, and pest control), post-harvest handling and marketing. Through a series of assessments and feedback sessions between SCHF staff and the Deaf community we serve, we have found that there is a growing interest to learn how to increase efficiencies and how to sell at market. The visual aide created will serve as a reference for the Deaf Community to increase their knowledge of best practices relating to growing produce for market.

Description of farm operation:

Salt City Harvest Farm (SCHF) grows food, community and culture alongside the New American Community through the cross-cultural exchange of food traditions with access to land, education, and economic opportunities. SCHF consists of 3.5 acres in diversified vegetables and apples. 2.5 acres are dedicated to the SyRAP incubator program providing land access to the New American Community. SCHF has been operating for the past 5 years as a nonprofit. There are over 30 New American farmers of diverse cultural identities that grow food at SCHF. Though much of the food grown ends up in farmer's homes, we do market some produce through direct market sales to restaurants, farmer's markets, and wholesalers.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Monu Chetri - Technical Advisor
  • Kayo Green - Technical Advisor

Research

Materials and methods:

The project provides a unique guide to growing and marketing diversified vegetables for the Deaf Community. In March of 2021, our team gathered to develop a plan of action. We reviewed the curriculum, hired an intern, and developed a plan with the media company.  We began creating a list of photos needed for the photo guide that needed to be captured throughout the upcoming season.

In April, we began production of the video series. Production lasted from April to October, 2021. We filmed segments on direct seeding, greenhouse seeding, transplanting, scouting for pest and disease, general backpack spraying, using a BCS tractor, irrigation, and a general harvest video. The media team would come out to the farm 1-2 times a month to focus on our planned videos for the time period. 

At the same time we began capturing photos of content needed for the photo guide. Unfortunately we were not able to capture all the photos we needed for the photo guide and need to capture more throughout 2022. We realized half way through the season that we needed more capacity to really create the photo guide in such a limited time frame. 

Rough draft video clips were tested on 16 Deaf New American farmers at SCHF. Farmers were shown clips, offered feedback, and also implemented newly learned skills in their plots. We would meet every other week throughout the growing season of 2021 to utilize sections of the photo guide to assist in their education. Farmers would learn to identify common insects and learn about the ideal time to seed based off of frosts. 

Post production for the videos took longer than anticipated due to the nature of working with 3 different languages. Lot's of coordination and revisions were made. The first versions of the videos were shared in November to a small team and commented on. In early January 2022, we held a larger gathering to view the videos and get feedback from the Deaf Community on the nearly complete versions. We took that feedback and finalized the edits on the videos, but came across complications with content relating to captions and text. 

With most of the videos complete and posted online, we will be using the videos to help educate the Deaf New American Community at Salt City Harvest Farm. There will be additional videos posted on YouTube in the future on irrigation and BCS tractor usage.

 

Research results and discussion:

The development of the videos and photo guide feels like it could be an ongoing process. By the end of the summer we began to realize the complexities of the project and found it challenging to have enough capacity to finish out the photo guide component. The videos have turned out great and upon showing the first few drafts of the project, we received valuable feedback from the Deaf Community for improvements for the future. Unfortunately we underestimated the amount of time it would take to develop the photo guide. It is still an ongoing process and we are planning on finishing that this upcoming season as capacity permits. The videos will be a valuable resource for not only the Deaf New American Community but for anyone interested in learning the practices. 

Research conclusions:

We set out to develop an agricultural guide for the Deaf New American Community focused on visual literacy. Initially we intended to create both a photo and video guide that would work in tandem with each other. The videos are turning out to be a great resource, though we found the photo guide to be a bit more complex. We will be continuing to work on the photo guide throughout this upcoming season. With the creation of the videos, the Deaf Community now has a resource that was created for their use. 

Participation Summary
1 Farmer participating in research

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

20 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools

Participation Summary:

16 Farmers
2 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities
Education/outreach description:

Our team has presented at the NOFA-NY winter conference and shared clips of the video series to the attendees. We have also mentioned the videos in a Syracuse-Onondaga Food Systems Alliance (SOFSA) general meeting. The videos are now live and have been posted online on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs23VUnKA2Ns9jBDs87QNFQ. We will share them via social media, NY Ag Clips newsletter, SCHF's newsletter, and ask SOFSA and NOFA-NY to share them with their network. Additionally we have a network of Deaf New Americans across the country we will be sharing the content with. The videos will be used throughout the upcoming growing season to provide education to the 16 Deaf New Americans we work with at Salt City Harvest Farm.

 

Learning Outcomes

16 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Key areas in which farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitude, skills and/or awareness:

Many Deaf New American's we work with at Salt City Harvest Farm come from agricultural backgrounds in their homelands. Many struggle with adapting to the cold climate of Central New York, learning new tools, and seeding in greenhouses. Pests are different, as are markets. Producing the videos has helped our Technical Assistance Educator convey tasks, quickly and in an understandable fashion for the farmers. Farmers are able to see the task performed over a 3-5 minute window over a 20-30 minute demonstration. Helps a lot when the Deaf New American community doesn't have the best English literacy.

Project Outcomes

16 Farmers changed or adopted a practice
2 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

Many of the Deaf New Americans we work with at Salt City Harvest Farm have never started seeds in a greenhouse. Upon watching our greenhouse seeding video, one of the farmers mentioned that they had no idea that's how it was done. Adapting to new tools such as cultivating, irrigation, and tractor tools is something the community often struggles to grasp. Having clear videos helps viewers gain a deeper understanding that can be taken into the fields and practiced. These videos will help the great public and the Deaf Community learn the foundations of bed prep, seeding, transplanting, common pests, setting up irrigation, and more. There has never been agricultural content created for Deaf New American Community.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

This project is big. I think our team underestimated the amount of time we'd need for put together the photo guide. Though we are nearing completion of the video side of the project, the photo guide requires another year's worth of work. We are seeking funds to help us finish the photo guide to be released by the end of this upcoming growing season. There are photos that need to be captured in the upcoming year that we missed throughout last year. Working with the Deaf New American Community, especially during a pandemic, relies on the availability of interpretation and more frequent feedback sessions. I think we greatly underestimated the energy this project would take and really need a full time person developing the photo guide. We will be pursuing funding to hire an education coordinator that can assist with the completion of the photo guide. 

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.