Introduce yourself to the online community and share your story!

Introduce Yourself

What brought you to growing? What has your experience been like so far, and what would you like to learn and share with the other community members?

Welcome to the GROW Observatory. Through contributing here, you are part of a global observatory of people collaborating to contribute to science and to sustainable practises.
Before you start, please have a look at the Guidelines and Support section. Then come back and introduce yourself here. You could tell us where in the world you are, what your interest in growing is, and/or what you'd like to learn more about.


Hi, I'm Naomi. I am a plant ecologist with a passion for plant communities, which I enjoy applying to food growing. I have a particular interest then in polycultures, from companion-planting to forest gardening. I work as a Senior Researcher in Agroecology at the Permaculture Association (Britain) on the GROW Observatory.

I'm looking forward to working with all those of you who are interested to develop some exciting citizen science experiments and activities to investigate some of the sustainable practices and techniques for food growing that are out there. Do they work? Do they work in your growing space? Do they work everywhere? Or only in certain situations?

I’m Devyn, living in Ireland, and part of the GROW communications team. I have a small back garden, and this year joined a community polytunnel. I’m really interested in the yield side of things - what do we do with everything we’ve grown? Because of this, I teach a Permaculture Kitchen module in a Permaculture Design course, and I’m often found experimenting in the kitchen!

Hi I am Julie. My partner Harry and I bought a 7 acre smallholding in Cornwall in summer 2013 and with no practical experience. I was brought up in rural Cumberland and my Father's family were foresters in the New Forest and agricultural workers in Dorset and Wiltshire. Family holidays were on farms and my childhood was largely outside. My Dad grew vegetables. I found myself living 25 miles from London in a nice enough village but yearning for a return to a rural life. We have not regretted the move although it has been a steep learning curve. We have neutral soil but not much flat land being hilly with wooded slopes to stabilise the soil and a river which can flood in winter. Of course the flat areas are near the river but so are the soggy areas. We are blessed with buying an already established smallholding with grapes on the South facing slopes and an cider orchard of some 40 trees about 25 years old. My husband and I produce cider and fruit liquors and have chickens and ducks. We have lots of plans including a forest garden and aquaponics. Everything has taken twice as long as we hoped to establish and the weather is pretty capricious with record rain fall and storms in 2013, lovely summer in 2014, incredibly mild but wet winter in 2015 with again late storms. and a really late frosty year this year meaning stuff that would normally be out is yet to be planted. We have learnt lots on permaculture courses, the local agricultural and horticultural course and by joining a smallholding club.

Hi I'm Caro. I have a small (18m2) veg plot in a friend's garden in Edinburgh, Scotland. It's on south facing loamy sand. We established the plot five years ago but I've been involved in growing for about ten years - I got interested when a friend came back from Spain talking about permaculture, and a few years later I did a permaculture design course in Argyll. I work for the Climate Challenge Fund which funds a lot of community growing projects in Scotland. I'm interested in learning more about agroforestry, agroecology and land regeneration.

Hi I,m Karen.I came here from doing the online soil course.I have a relatively small garden which is designed following permaculture principles i grow fruit, veg and herbs,giving any surplus to friends and familly,the garden has a very informal layout but is roughly laid out as with permaculture zones and in a way to maximise the growing conditions i live with.My grandma grew in this garden so i had some garden knowledge as a child, lost interest as a young adult -but came back too it when i moved with my husband too a house with a large plot where i learned a great deal by experimentation.On his death i reluctantly moved back here and set about rescuing the garden from years of neglect,but may be moving again in the near future. I came across the permaculture ideas by accident but it was like some kind of revelation offering so many solutions in different settings around the world, and i have been passionate about it ever since.I am saving to do the PDC and doing related online courses to gain more information now.I have a particular interest in applying it in Sub saharan Africa and as i am employed in graphic design,i am additionally working in my own time on producing materials for school garden projects over there.

Hi I'm Alice, part of the GROW citizen science team! I have a small paved garden with a few pots. I am also involved in GROW allotment activities at the Botanic Gardens in Dundee, Scotland. As a novice grower, I am keen to learn about growing practices. I am very excited to be learning about growing through the experience and knowledge of citizens all accross the world!

Hi, I am David Lloyd (with partner Nikki) in South Eastern Finland. 10 years on an old farm using mainly human power to transform a conventionally farmed 4.5 hectare site into an organic permaculture-ish plot. Many experments and disasters. Two drought years, one of torrential rain. Celebrating massive improvement in soil through mulching, low tillage and creation of terraces. Peas, beans, squash, berries, apples, carrots, parsnips, pepper and tomatoes (in polytunnels), potatoes, some sweetcorn, and now trying leeks and celeriac. Kale, cabbage, cauliflower have proved spasmodic! We teach English all summer so it is difficult to get the hours in but we do get a substantial crop to last us through the winter. Now facing a late Spring - it snowed today!

Hi, I am Mariella, from Italy, I am working in a community garden and inside I have synergic beds (more or less 80 mq), where I follow Fukuoka suggestion, leaving a lot of wild plants (most of them are edible) beside classic vegetables. I have still a little problem because the soil was mostly clay and in this garden we do not have compost! I will try to fix it with nettle macerate and micorrizae.

Hi, I'm Kate, recently retired and living in the North Pennines in Cumbria, UK. I have a plot that I'm slowly transforming from a field into a permaculture garden, with fruit trees and wild plants. It can be cold and windy and the plot is surrounded by rough grazing, with rabbits, so growing annual vegetables is not an option at present. I enjoyed learning on the on-line soils course and plan to experiment more with compost and companion planting.

Hi all, I'm William Andes of andesfarm in Feltham, Middlesex, UK. I promote growing food and energy naturally for local community consumption (instead of importing food from other continents and using fossil fuel that will harm the planet ); reuse anything (instead of recycling) to grow food; grow food in a very small confined area (urban backyard farming); avoid chemicals (ex. From Monsanto) that will ruin the environment- instead use natural feed for edible plants; giving away plants for free to local community to encourage them doing the same objective (growing food); plant tree as future energy source and continuously document this backyard farm activity for future reference.

All of this are ongoing active project and fully documented here:

Some outcome of my plants have had an inconsistent fruit production such as sweet cherry tomato and gigantomo f1 tomato. Some of these plants produce loads of fruits in one fruit stem instead of just a standard alternate bunch of fruit. I enhanced my soil and also use compost. One of my plot (approx size: 30 inches wide x 14 meters long) accommodated at least 250 plants like butternut squash, vine tomato, bell pepper and some small plants and trees like asparagus and field maple trees approx 400 trees in total all fit in this small plot. Current production is really good as per actual images and videos taken regularly. My document is supported with actual images and videos with time/date stamp for ease of evaluation. I need your help by commenting with those documents that I have implemented as I am not sure about some of the plant growth and production results. Thanks in advance.

Hi GROWers, I'm Valeri from Plovdiv Bulgaria

For quite some time my feeling that I live in a meaningless way as an average consumer and intentional accomplice in destroying our planet was growing bigger. So in response to that I started a desperate attempt to grow vegetables in my own garden.

Now why “desperate”.. because in my story there is a huge amount of irony.. Until my 30th year I was furious at my father who “dragged” me from infancy to participate in rural activities such as digging weeds from cotton fields, picking grapes, seeding and growing peanuts, on a "Pig Christmas" (in Bulgarian Christmas is “Koleda” and slaughter (noun) is “kolene” both done at the same time of the year) and countless other things - at my grandfather’s village. After my grandfather died in 1997 all this shifted from our village to a small garden approx. 400 sq. m. on the outskirts of Plovdiv where we have grown and eaten a proper amount of veggies and fruits - but with lot of digging, watering, spraying with chemicals, fertilizing and so on. At 30 I said - “That’s it. I’m no longer in”.. so did my best to convince my father that the tomatoes that I produce probably cost 20 EUR per kilo if considering my hourly wage and the surcharge for Weekends.. and he gave up.. So I made my backyard into a lawn and began to mow.. in satisfaction, gasoline smell, and excess fumes..

Then my father got cancer. He quickly and painfully faded away and died in my hands. And all lost sense. Colours bleached and everything cracked like plastic in the sun - still there but ugly and with no use. So my estimates for price per kilogram of my tomatoes changed - to priceless..

My re-gardening slowly began - with a lot of reading, searching in Internet and experimenting - with many mistakes and chaotic and shaky small steps, so season 2016 was "Year -1". 2017 will be "Year 0". The “permaculture project” area is on 400 sq. m. into our backyard and another 400 sq. m. on 15 minutes walking distance (5 minutes by bike).


My name is Hugh Kelly and I am a high school social studies teacher in Leysin Switzerland. We started a school permaculture garden project in late 2015, so we only have two growing seasons under our belt.

Here is a video of some of the technical approaches we have taken but we also try to take a holistic approach to being, working and learning in the garden.

Garden info/data:

Location: Leysin, Switzerland

Area: ~1000 sq. meters in the project area, on a fairly steep hillside

Latitude: 46.21

Altitude: 1360 meters

Aspect & slope: Southeast - 75% steep slope (we have not yet mesured the grade) with maybe 25% some flatter areas & old walking pathways & terraces

Mean annual precipitation (2004-2017): 1390 mm

Average # of frost free days: ~160

Plant hardiness zone: 5-6 (using the linked system: Do we use this or something else?)

Approaches & techniques: Permaculture gardening (as we understand that so far) Local gardening Terracing & other landscaping to capture water & soil Companion planting Composting & mulching Seed saving & some heritage plant cultivation (with eventual goal of collaborating with other local gardeners to develop landraces at this altitude)

Current programming/student engagement: -Fall & spring afternoon activity with very modest participation rates (2-10 students twice per week; moderate presence/awareness, moderate energy/knowledge) -Makeup activity gardening (with large surges energy applied to our site in the form of students desperate to remove absences with a wide range of awareness & energy) -Middle school gardening course (1 month every 2 years) -Some visits & work to the school garden by summer school campers -A fair amount of faculty& community involvement at different times of the year

I am very excited to know that there is a program like the Grow Observatory and I would love to share knowledge & enthusiasm with other garden educators! -Hugh

PS: It looks like line breaks are not possible in this posting system. Sorry for the weird formatting.

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