Learn With Us — How Citizen Science Can Create Positive Change in the World.

By Dr Raquel Ajates University of Dundee

GROW runs a diverse set of courses which have brought thousands of people together from all corners of the world interested in food growing, soil, citizen science, sensing and creating positive environmental change. Our next course, Citizen Science: From Data to Action, will extend our soils focus into three distinct areas — data, art and policy. So you will have the opportunity to get familiar with datasets, to integrate your art into environmental messaging, and find out how to get involved in policy making processes on environmental topics that matter to you.

Sign up for this free course at the link above

Data matters

Do you remember the Great GROW Experiment that many growers joined earlier this summer? The purpose of this experiment was to assess how effective polycultures are compared to monocultures on participant’s plots?

If you´re curious about the results, join the course to find out what happened and what the findings mean for small and medium scale growers.

Art Matters

And do you remember GROW´s fantastic artists in residence? This email thread introduces Kasia Molga, her previous work and her plans for work with GROW.

The From Data to Action course will explore the potential of art to communicate complex scientific data and concepts and engage many different audiences; if you take part, you will be encouraged to try and enjoy creating art out of your growing: a poem, a visual representation of soil sensor data or a painting of your soil components — all count and the choice is yours.

Course participants will also become some of the very first people to experience Kasia’s new work as GROW’s artists in residence.

A core part of the GROW Observatory has been GROW Places — areas where we have connected with communities on the ground and where a high concentration of sensors are already in that ground. The course will share for the first time the soil data collected in GROW Places. Importantly, this will touch on what it means for the people involved and how their findings can shape the way you grow.

For those of you who might not be familiar with datasets, you will learn to identify patterns, errors and insights — this means you will learn how to make data a powerful tool to create positive change from the local to the global.

Policy Matters

While creating or contributing to change in your growing site or local community is something that growers might be used to, the idea of engaging with policy-making processes at the international level might be a bit less familiar. In the course, we will look at the history, present and future of participatory governance in Europe and different channels available for citizens and the GROW Observatory to contribute to positive change at the local, regional, European and global levels. We will discuss how the participation of citizens in policy development can help to deepen democracy, strengthen social capital, facilitate efficiency, equity and social justice.

Participatory governance methods do not come without barriers and challenges. It is key to acknowledge these and consider solutions to continue to improve methods and make them more effective and inclusive. While local action can be invaluable on many levels,for some environmental problems, its important to work on wider (e.g. national or supranational) scales. We will explore ways that citizens can share local knowledge and be included in decision-making processes at different scales — we hope you find it useful and get inspired to take part.

The GROW Observatory App

The course will also introduce the brand new GROW Observatory app. As with the course, the new app is free and provides a wide range of planting and harvesting advice as well as loads of information on regenerative practices.

The most unique aspect of the GROW Observatory app is its citizen science element. For those of you who find “official” planting timings on the back of the seed packets not very helpful because planting and harvesting dates depend on the specific climate of your growing space, you might find the GROW Observatory offers you the chance to improve the advice for your own geographical area. This is the power of citizen scientists working together. By pooling local knowledge of planting and harvesting times, we can together improve the recommendations given by the GROW Edible Plant Database in the app.

Download for iOS: bit.ly/GROWappiOS / Download for Android: bit.ly/GROWappAndroid

The vision is to have a shared calendar that will get updated with submissions from citizen scientists like you to offer more targeted and local advice on planting and harvesting dates.

Click to join the Share My Planting Calendar’s Facebook Group.

You can watch the course trailer above, read about the team of educators and sign up for free on the course page and feel free to share it with your fellow growers and soil, data and environment enthusiast peers!

Dr. Raquel Ajates

Dr. Raquel Ajates teaches on the upcoming course Citizen Science: From Data to Action. Raquel is a researcher working on University of Dundee’s GROW Observatory Project. Raquel’s research interests include food policy, defining sustainable food systems, food & farming cooperatives and agroecology.