Frequently Asked Questions
What's a photovoice project?
Photovoice is a hands-on photographic research method that asks participants to take photographs that represent their individual perspectives and lived experiences. These pictures are then shared back with other study participants and discussed to pull out connecting themes. Narratives, captions, or stories explaining the significance of the pictures can be attached to the photographs.
For this project, all participants will be given a disposable camera and will have two weeks to take pictures of scenes that best represent their lives. What are aspects of urban agriculture in Pittsburgh that frustrate you? What are aspects of growing in Pittsburgh that bring you joy? Why do you grow food/livestock/work as an activist? You might take pictures of scenes that (visually) answer these questions. This as an opportunity to share your passion with the world!
Here are a few examples of community photovoice projects:
So... what's the point?
Photovoice ignites public interest about important topics that are relevant within a community and helps that community express themselves through photography. Pictures and narratives are a creative way to document struggles, happiness, and stories.
The three main goals of photovoice are:
To support community members while they record and reflect on their community strengths and concerns.
To promote critical dialogue and knowledge about important issues through large and small group discussions of photographs.
To reach policy-makers and encourage the adoption of positive policies.
I want to be a part of the project! What do I have to do?
Participation in The Female Farmer Photovoice Project involves five steps:
Attendance at the project orientation meeting – Sat. May 4, 2019, from 4-6 PM at the House of Manna
Photography – take pictures, using the provided disposable camera.
Attendance at the photovoice reflection meeting – Sat. June 1, 2019, from 4-6 PM at the House of Manna
Participation in an individual interview (optional)
Attendance at the photovoice gallery presentation (optional) – (date TBA)
Great! How do I sign up?
Please register your participation for The Female Farmer Photovoice Project by using the
If you would rather call or email, contact the project organizer, Hannah Whitley, at (814) 810-7417 or
What is The Female Farmer Photovoice Project's "From Blight to Beauty" photo exhibit?
Who is coordinating the project?
Me! - Hi, all! My name is Hannah Whitley and I am a graduate student pursuing a Master's degree in Rural Sociology and Women's Studies at Penn State University. I have been a graduate assistant for the Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network (PA-WAgN) for the past two years and am so grateful to have met so many amazing women working in PA's food systems.
I grew up on a 500-acre Black Angus beef ranch and Douglas Fir tree farm in western Oregon, completed my undergraduate degrees at Oregon State, and moved out East to Pennsylvania to attend Penn State in August 2017. I am still getting used to the humidity and the snow, but have come to love Pennsylvania and am excited to learn more about and promote the great work that female farmers, growers, and activists are doing in Pittsburgh!
In 2018, I applied for and was awarded a generous Graduate Student Research Grant from Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (NE SARE) to fund the research and outreach work I am building as complete in pursuit of my Master's thesis.
With the support of NE SARE and PA-WAgN, I am coordinating "The Female Farmer Photovoice Project" with four main goals:
To identify the strategies that urban farmers and growers use to develop and maintain successful sustainable operations.
To learn about how urban farmers and gardeners work with nonprofit organizations, extension services, government programs, and fellow agriculturalists.
To embed sustainable urban agriculture within discussions of social issues, namely, the long-term historical, institutional, and cultural inequality endemic to food systems in the U.S.
And to create a travelling (and digital) photography gallery that will highlight the challenges and opportunities for sustainable production in urban communities.
What's the role of research in the project?
As part of your participation in The Female Farmer Photovoice Project, you will be invited to take part in a photovoice reflection (focus) group and a follow-up interview with a member of the project’s research team.
The purpose of the focus group is to share the photographs taken by participants during the photovoice project and explore how photo themes relate to the strategies that historically marginalized farmers, growers, and food activists use to develop and maintain sustainable operations in the Pittsburgh area. During the follow-up interviews, you will be asked questions about your experience as a woman working in urban agriculture and food systems in Pittsburgh.
The interview will have multiple themes:
Your personal experience with farming/growing/organizing
Barriers and support systems that you have encountered in agriculture
Strategies to overcome these barriers
Your experience with the Female Farmer Photovoice Project
Your hopes and hesitations for the future of urban agriculture in Pittsburgh.
The information learned from the focus groups and follow-up interviews will be used in Hannah Whitley’s Master’s thesis, which seeks to recognize how non-governmental organizations, extension personnel, academic researchers, and policy-makers can better frame and implement adaptation and mitigation strategies that support the environmental, financial, and social sustainability of urban farmers and gardeners. Findings from this project will be shared with partnering non-profit organizations, project participants, and extension personnel.
What will happen with the pictures once they've been developed?
After everyone has taken photographs and met for an in-person focus group to discuss their experience and the themes that have risen from their pictures, participants in The Female Farmer Photovoice Project will work together to create a traveling photography gallery. Each participant will be asked to contribute at least two photos and accompanying captions that will be displayed at programs such as agricultural education, networking, and policy events throughout the Northeast region.
Following the project’s conclusion, all participants will be gifted a digital CD containing all photos taken as part of the project.
I have more questions!
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