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The Grow Observatory

A citizens' observatory for family farmers, gardeners and growers.

The GROW Observatory is a citizens' observatory that will empower tens of thousands of growers across Europe with knowledge on sustainable practices and make a vital contribution to global environmental monitoring.

Co-ordinated by the University of Dundee, GROW aims to underpin smart and sustainable custodianship of land and soil, while meeting the demands of future food production. People taking part are collaborating to create and share information on soil, the land, on crops – what to plant, when to plant them and how to do it. They are able to 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.

Graphic showing plants growing

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 will receive funding of >€5million over the next three years through the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme. The project started on 1st November 2016, and will engage growers and citizen scientists in co-creating the experiments from Spring 2017.

Find out more via our website - - where you can:

  • Join GROW to meet other growers from all over Europe
  • Sign up to our online newsletter
  • Get inspired with films, webinars and content on soils and growing
  • Become a Citizen Scientist and help us improve soil knowledge: over the summer, we’ll be running  series of simple experiments

Get in Touch

Follow us on Twitter @GROWobservatory for to the minute news from the project

Medium for longer stories, insights and updates


The European Commission, through Horizon 2020, is supporting the development of an ecosystem of Citizens' Observatories. The vision is to create a movement around environmental observations to inform and empower citizens to participate in environmental decision making, leading towards more inclusive, sustainable and smart economic development.

Citizen science has a long history, and increasing availability of smartphones and low-cost sensing technologies has opened up new possibilities for collaborative data collection and sense making.

The world faces the challenge of producing sufficient high-quality food while reducing carbon emissions and preserving the quality of land and soil resources. 

A key challenge for environmental monitoring is the ability to measure soil moisture at high spatial resolution over large geographical areas.

The GROW Observatory is led by Coordinator and academic lead Dr Drew Hemment in DJCAD at University of Dundee. The co-investigators are Mel Woods and Dr Nick Taylor in DJCAD, Andy Cobley in Computing, and Professor John Rowan in CECHR.  Programme Director, Dr Deborah Long heads the delivery and coordination team at Dundee, in Matthews Building/5066.

GROW Observatory Consortium Partners

  • University of Dundee
  • International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
  • Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations
  • Met Office
  • Hydrologic Research
  • Hydrologic BV
  • Starlab
  • FutureEverything
  • Sustainable Ireland Co-operative Society - Cultivate
  • CulturePolis
  • James Hutton Institute
  • Vienna University of Technology
  • Thingful
  • Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia
  • Storythings
  • University of Miskolc
  • The Forest Trust
  • Permaculture Association

European Commission

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 690199.