The GROW Observatory – a citizen observatory for growers, gardeners, small and family farmers, and space scientists

Grow ObservatoryThe GROW Observatory is a platform and community for large scale citizen science that aims to empower tens of thousands of growers across Europe with knowledge on sustainable practices and make a vital contribution to global environmental monitoring.

The GROW Observatory was developed by a consortium of partners, including ECOLISE.  It now has 17 partner organisations including the Permaculture Association of Britain and Cultivate, both ECOLISE members.

GROW aims to underpin smart and sustainable custodianship of land and soil, whilst meeting the demands of future food production. People taking part collaborate to create and share information on soil, the land, on crops – what to plant, when to plant and how to do it. They can develop knowledge and skills on soil and growing for food, and take practical steps to preserve the soil for future generations.

GROW also aims to answer a long­standing challenge for space science – by helping to validate the detection of soil moisture from satellites. GROW will look at how this can contribute to services and applications that help forecast and prepare for extreme climate events, such as heat waves and floods.

To achieve this GROW will combine low cost sensing technology combined with citizens’ own devices, a simple soil test, innovative data handling and an online education platform to mobilise large numbers of citizens across Europe.

The outcome will be a hub of open knowledge and data created and maintained by growers that will be of value to the citizens themselves as well as specialist communities in science, policy and industry. In GROW, citizen scientists will generate processed, value added, relevant, decision supporting information for sustainable agriculture, gardening, food democracy and space science.

The GROW Observatory has received funding of €5 million over the next three years through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. The project started on 1st November 2016, and since spring 2017 has been engaging growers and citizen scientists in co-creating the experiments. Further details about the project can be found at

GROW offers:

  • Simple, fun experiments to do with friends, family or your community.
  • Low cost but high power consumer sensing technology, a simple to use soil testing kit, and easy applications, to lower barriers to entry.
  • Engagement underpinned by storytelling and community champions.
  • Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) to enable scaling of rigorous citizen science. GROW’s first MOOC, which started on 8 May 2017, will help participants learn how to understand soil and explore global environmental soil issues by becoming a citizen scientist. See