GROW PLACES — Citizen Sensing and Community Strengthening

GROW Observatory
Apr 5, 2018 · 3 min read

By Davie Philip

What role might technology play in strengthening the resilience of our communities and allowing us to reconnect with the living world around us?

In an era of big data and digital overload could open source software, open data and citizen sensing be effectively used by local communities? Could these technologies help transform neighbourhoods into smarter and more sustainable places, and also empower citizens to undertake more local initiatives?

And what about slightly further afield — into the farmer fields and growing spaces? We know that the way we produce food is impacting heavily on the land and the soil. Finding routes to more sustainable land use and regenerative food growing practices is now critical to solving many local and global challenges we face.

Citizens with affordable sensors — from the neighbourhood to allotment, from the community garden to the crop field — can contribute to a better environmental performance.

And we’re on it! GROW Observatory is bringing together people who love soil with people who love data across Europe in a groundbreaking project to connect and learn from each other.

The GROW Observatory is supporting local communities in 9 GROW Places across Europe to enable them to generate, share and use new knowledge and data on growing practices and soil management as a response to our changing climate.

The GROW PLACES programme will engage Community Champions including in Portugal, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Greece, Ireland and Scotland. These champions are already working with networks of community gardeners, transition town groups, community supported agriculture projects and small farmers and are well positioned to harness the skills and knowledge of local communities.

Access to online courses, educational resources and science experiments will be given and affordable sensors will be made available to test soil and validate climate prediction models from satellites.

The objective is to bring people together to co-create a Europe-wide community of citizen scientists gathering and sharing important soil data, with the objective of fostering climate action, improving ecosystem resilience and contributing to food security.

GROW PLACES aims to contribute to an emerging Living Soils movement by helping people become better stewards of the land as well as addressing science challenges and data gaps. These citizen scientists will also develop new skills that will help them contribute to the strengthening of resilience in their own communities in the process.

We’ll keep you informed on GROW Places here on Medium. Here’s the first GROW Places profile!

For more on GROW Places, scroll to the bottom of the Get Involved section of our website

Sign up for our next free online course! Join #GROWSoil2Food from Monday 16th April.

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Let’s collaborate to grow great food, improve our soils, and help science with vital environmental monitoring. Get involved!

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