GROW Observatory seed sown for project to help small scale food growers

by Naomi van der Velden

Photos by Gerid Hager

Thursday 8th September 2016

Today we planted a seed. It is full of energy, aspiration, and potential. Scientists, permaculture designers, and growers have been working together at the British Convergence and the European Permaculture Convergence to understand key needs and challenges for small-scale food growers. This is the first stage, the seed, that will inform the GROW Observatory over the next three years.  

Creating a seed - a circle of people on the beach at the European Permaculture Convergence, held at the beuatiful Bolsena, Italy

We have recognised that we need to be able to:

• characterise our soils and choose suitable techniques to regenerate them so that we can grow nutritious crops and nurture healthy ecosystems, 

• understand our local growing conditions so that we can choose suitable plants for our soils and microclimates, 

• make good use of water in our systems, so that we can minimise inputs and waste, and mitigate extreme events like drought or flood, 

• take a functional approach to designing locally appropriate polycultures (plant mixes) so that we produce a good range of food whilst providing key ecological services,

• recognise, prevent and/or treat pests, diseases and problem weeds so that we can better avoid crop losses,

• use and share crop surpluses so that our hard work doesn’t go to waste,

• access scientific data in a user-friendly format so that we can apply new knowledge and techniques to our own land,

• evaluate how our actions have influenced our soils, food production, and ecosystems so that we can know if we are working effectively and identify what we might need to change,

• access expert advice, connect with other local growers, and share our own stories of successes and failures, so that everyone can learn to make best use of their time and effort, and we can spend more time enjoying what we’ve created!

Abundant passion and enthusiasm

I have been overwhelmed by the passion and enthusiasm that has been shown by growers and permaculturists for this project. People are truly inspired and eager to help this seed grow into something beautiful and functional! We look forward to enhancing our knowledge, sharing our stories, and deepening our understanding of how to successfully grow food, soils, ecosystems, and communities to transform our world.

Read details about the GROW Observatory project at The Permaculture Association are involved through their membership of ECOLISE.