Rachel Corry: Food for Thought Project Update

Rachel Corry is a rising senior majoring in Communication and Public Relations and a 2020 IDEA Grant recipient. Rachel’s faculty mentor is Prof. Patrick Merle in the College of Communication and Information.

My project focuses on determining the most efficient communication methods that local organic farms can implement to improve outside perceptions. I will interview at least three organic farms per state across eight Southeastern states to understand farms’ positioning in their surrounding communities. So far, I have accomplished the finalization of interview questions and a completed contact list of the farms from Local Harvest Directory I plan to interview. The interviews are intended to be similar to interactive discussions, so there will be additional questions that arise based on each farm’s unique situation. However, all questions will be formulated in relation to key specific themes and similar to the drafted questions. Working at Orchard Pond Organics, a local Tallahassee farm, has been instrumental in continuing my understanding of organic agriculture methods in practice.

Another key research development is creating the explanation and justification for all of my Project Procedures to receive IRB approval. The nearly-completed document thoroughly describes my research methods and instrument concepts for all three phases of my IDEA Grant and Honors in the Major research: interviews with local organic farms from mid-July to early fall, an online survey measuring consumer views on sustainability and organic farms in the fall, and an online experimental survey comparing public reception of communicative approaches utilized by farms in the fall. For each phase, I detail the selection of participants, how the research will be carried out, instrument concepts, and predictions. I plan to submit the application for IRB approval by Wednesday, July 1 after confirming revisions with my supervisor, Dr. Patrick Merle. 

Following the application for IRB approval, I will continue making progress on my Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography. Academic peer reviewed articles and trade press pieces enhance my understanding of organic agriculture and sustainability, which is necessary to conduct meaningful interviews with organic farm representatives in the Southeastern U.S.  As soon as I receive IRB approval, I will begin contacting farms via phone and email for their consent and commitment to an interview. The interviews will likely be held virtually throughout July; some may be in-person in August depending on COVID-19 circumstances and each farm’s preference.

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