Members' experiments

Explore whether antimicrobial-resistant bacteria is present on your home-grown veg

Each year we organise several citizen science experiments that our members can participate in to help inform the way we grow organically today. This experiment is 2022 - Explore whether antimicrobial-resistant bacteria is present on your home-grown veg.

What we want to find out

Antimicrobial resistance is a really important topic, and little is known about the different transmission pathways for antimicrobial resistant bacteria. Our project will look in particular at whether there are antimicrobial-resistant bacteria on home-grown produce, and if so, how much, as well as what growing and preparing practices might lower their numbers if they are found.

Would you be able to help us?

There is no requirement that you have a scientific background, and you don’t need to know what antimicrobial resistance is in order to take part; we're just looking for keen growers!

This experiment is now closed.

How you can help:

This project will run until September and is composed of multiple activities which we have structured so that you can take part in as few, or as many, as you like (taking around an hour of your time upwards). You can take a look at our timeline to see what’s happening and when.

We are looking for volunteers to help in different ways including:

  • Answering questionnaires
  • Attending Q and A sessions to help shape the project
  • Collecting samples from produce and posting them for testing
  • Helping to analyse our data
  • Helping to tell others about what we find

You’ll learn some new skills, meet some new people (online), and help with new research. You’ll need to be aged over 18 (or have a responsible adult to supervise your project activities) and have access to the internet: we’ll be using a platform called Padlet, plus Zoom for online meetings.

Participation in one of the central project activities - the collection of swabs (samples) from home-grown lettuces for analysis by the microbiologists on our team - would also require that you have home-grown lettuces that are big enough to swab (for your reference dates for collecting swabs are in early July). Exact details on the swabbing process will be discussed in a Q and A session hosted by the project team closer to the time.

Please note we only have a limited number of swab kits, so if this activity is oversubscribed you may not get to take part. There will however be plenty of other opportunities to get involved.

What we'll provide:

Everyone who signs up will have access to our Padlet project home which has been designed as a hub for activities related to this project. This is where you’ll be able to find links to our Q and A sessions and other content created as part of the project. You will also be able to engage with other participants through comments and upvoting if you wish.

If you’re taking part in swabbing, you’ll also receive a swab kit in the post closer to the start time of this activity.

Updates about the project will be shared on the Padlet project home and, if you choose to sign up, via a newsletter for this project.

Dates for your diary

Project start date: Rolling sign-up process - no cut-off

Swab collection dates: Early July

Project end date: September

How much time will I need to set aside to take part?

That’s up to you! We have designed this project so that you can take part in as few, or as many, of the activities as you like. We hope this means the project will be able to fit around your pre-existing commitments, but if you’re short on time we’d be looking for a minimum commitment of around an hour which would involve filling in our questionnaires and include time for swabbing.

Getting started

If you are interested in taking part the first step would be completing this questionnaire.

The first screen of this questionnaire serves as a reminder of what our project is aiming to do, and how the questionnaire fits in as part of that. You can access the same information by clicking here, and you are welcome to download a copy of this document for your records if you would like to.

Upon completion of the questionnaire, you will be sent a link inviting you to our ‘project home’ on Padlet.

The project is being led by the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York in partnership with The Royal Veterinary College, University of Reading, Garden Organic and growers' groups in York. The project is funded by the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) and the Food Standards Agency.

Any questions?

If you have any questions about this project or you’d like to find out more, please contact [email protected].