2006-12-21 / News

Farm study still seeking input

By Dotti Farrington

University of Rhode Island officials conducting a survey of support for farm preservation on Conanicut Island are completing the second round of their efforts to get wide response to their questionnaire.

Early this month, they sent reminders to residents who had not submitted a complete survey form. “To provide fair and balanced information, it is critical that we hear from you,” the URI workers said in their letter that included another copy of the survey questionnaire.

Originally distributed in October to all island residences, the form seeks opinions and preferences on working farms and wildlife in Jamestown. The comments of residents who have already responded include a wide variety of opinions and values on amenities provided by working farms, the survey collectors reported.

Many residents described their preferences, both positive and negative, toward amenities such as wildlife habitat, scenic rural views, and educational opportunities, in addition to dairy products and vegetables for which consumers usually pay one way or another, the university researchers said. “Due to increased competition and rising costs, however, maintaining these farms as active working farms has become increasingly difficult for the farmers. We are trying to understand to what extent Jamestown residents value the amenities provided by working farms,” the professors stated.

They explained they sent another copy of the survey because everyone’s response is important in ensuring that results are accurate. “In this study, we are examining different methods of asking people about their opinions and values. In order to keep the survey short, some parts of the survey ask different people different questions,” they said. “All answers are needed to help us develop a more complete understanding of the values of Jamestown residents,” they emphasized.

The URI researchers said they are hoping all recipients will return the questionnaires with answers to all or most questions. Anyone who does not wish to complete the form is asked to return the blank survey.

Questions may be directed to Emi Uchida, a research assistant professor, at 874-9196 or Stephen K. Swallow, a professor, at 874-4589.

They will serve as a pilot for establishing community-based markets for wildlife protection. The project also may serve as a model for securing protection for other forms of wildlife, for protecting water quality, and addressing other ecological issues.

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