The Grow Project is a European-wide project recruiting tens of thousands of ‘civil scientists’ in the hope to empower growers with knowledge on sustainable practices. Alarmingly, recent research suggests that some areas of Europe have as little as ten year’s-worth of harvests left because soil is so badly eroded in areas.
Funnily enough, the project happens to be based right here within Duncan of Jordanstone, Dundee. And their office is only two floors below my studio! I happened to find out about the project during a chat with one of my Gurus Nick Taylor- who also happens to be one of the project’s researchers.
GROW aims to underpin smart and sustainable custodianship of land and soil, with a view to meeting the future demands of food production. It also helps to answer some of the long standing challenges associated with space science- by helping to validate the detection of soil moisture from satellites. Looking at this data, the project will explore how it can be used to contribute to services and applications that help forecast and prepare for extreme climate events, such as heat waves and flooding.
Using low cost technology with a little help from locals, the project aims to solve a key challenge from environmental monitoring- the ability to measure soil moisture at high spatial resolution over large geographical areas while also sharing knowledge on growing in different regions. To do so, GROW offers simple, fun experiments to do with friends, family or your community, low cost but high consumer sensing technology, an online course to enable scaling of rigorous citizen science and engagement through storytelling and community champions.
While still considering designing an educational kit for children, I find the GROW project’s approach very interesting. I like how they are encouraging community engagement, instead of developing highly resolved pieces of technology that monitor soils independently. I feel community engagement is key when it comes to sustainable agriculture, for when the population increases wider participation will be vital to sustain food production.