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AGT Newsletter 2024

Innovative Young Minds + Green Technology = Solutions For Our Planet

At a micro-winery and farm located in Alella, just outside Barcelona,  the Alella Green Tech foundation works to help young people build a sustainable future. 
Read all about our mission in this first newsletter of 2024

In This Newsletter

  • The AGT Mission
  • Why Alella?
  • 2023 Progress made
  • School Field Trips, events and internships
  • 2024 projects on the way
  • How you can get involved and help out

Build it and they will come…

The AGT Mission

Alella Green Tech believes that the best way to help our planet is to help younger generations acquire the passion and skills they will need to build a sustainable future.  AGT aims to:

  1. Inspire & tool up young people with green tech skills to create a sustainable future
  2. Carry out & support R&D for water management, agriculture robotics and green technology
  3. Provide a showcase & community center for green minded people
  4. Give YOU a great way to get involved 

 

Mayday for Ukraine 2022

Painting biodegradable vases with sunflower seeds to take home to plant

Why Alella, Cataluñia?

Alella’s serene environment, just 18 km from Barcelona,  offers a tranquil yet stimulating haven for innovation. Its unique blend of natural beauty, and community  spirit makes it an ideal setting for creativity and groundbreaking research in sustainability.  With the support of the forward thinking local government,  great inroads can be made to establish Alella as a pioneer in smart micro agriculture, water management and regreening.  

Project Completion & Progress in 2023

AGT put on several events designed to bring young people closer to nature . Here are some of the highlights:

School Field Trips

We hosted several science field trips from schools from around the world . We coordinated with the lead teachers to plan activities related to the school curriculum.  Kids got to see science and nature in action!

AGT earns a modest foundation contribution for each visit from schools that can afford it and doesn’t charge schools on a low budget.  In this way AGT can become financially viable.

Sorting the garlic to be planted.  We shall soon be vampire free!

During school visits, we rotate small groups of students through different stations where they learn  about water management, the water table, IOT, irrigation, evaporation, erosion etc. Then they make their own pizza at the techlounge and finally spend the afternoon planting seedlings. It is always great fun and instructive for all!

Visiting Scholars, Interns and Volunteers

As witnessed by the many testimonials and blogs on our website,  we had over 30 interns and resident volunteers stay for multi-week periods during 2023.  Most were engineers or environmental studies majors – whether taking a sabbatical from work or working on their masters.  Some were non-academic lovers of organic farming who simply wanted to make a difference.  All resided, camping style, at our premises and made important contributions. 

The practical experience received at AGT allowed a number of them to secure jobs in their chosen field whereas before coming they had found it difficult.

Infrastructure to support playing, learning and innovating

We have now completed much of the infrastructure necessary to support all kinds of green tech projects – focussing mainly on water, micro-agriculture and our backbone IT infrastructure. It has been a year of laying irrigation piping, fiber optic cables and planning.

Rainwater collection & storage system (COMPLETED)

Our goal is to retain up to 5% of annual rainfall, while ensuring that the majority of it percolates through our soil — not over it — and flows naturally to the sea. This approach aims to prevent rapid runoff that erodes topsoil and damages property, thus promoting sustainable land management. The water we retain is used for irrigation and hydroelectric energy production.  Our water management is inspired by the likes of Sepp Holzer and other distributed water retention gurus whose teachings we have studied in depth via the official channels of instruction.  

Laying the piping with perforations on the bottom side

Covering with gravel. Our filter is complete.

Completed! Home to many aquatic animals and our water reservoir too!

Sophisticated Computer Controlled Irrigation System (COMPLETED)

We built a complete smart irrigation system suitable for large microfarms – as a demo and for use by Can Picard – the farm AGT is based at.

Our smart irrigation system interfaces to standard residential irrigation controllers rendering them smarter and regulating the pressure and flow rate of the water in each zone. It all integrates with our MQTT based IOT system using IBM´s excellent Node-red.  A small version will be provided to farmers at little cost whether or not they have any existing infrastructure – no WIFI or 4G needed. We call our system WEASY – water made easy. We will be encouraging private companies to help with the digital transformation of micro farming.   More about it here.  

Our central pump station – great work by Oleksii and others

Traditional Shepherd’s Hut in Clay & Wattle & Daub (COMPLETED)

We built a fully functional shepherd´s hut using naturally harvested clay and wattle and daub methodology – 6000 year old technology!

Marina and Max build a mud wall and get VERY dirty in the process!

Our mud shepherd´s hut is warm in winter and cool in summer

Tech-Powered Agriculture: Sensors, Fiber, LORA, Climate Advocac (DEPLOYED)

We deployed a system for the monitoring & transmission of  key parameter resources data using a variety of sensors and microcontrollers all communicating with LORA and other low cost protocols.  To guide farmers and fight climate change, we need to know what is going on with the key aspects of the soil and vegetation. Great work by Raimon, Oleksii and others here.

Alella Green Tech energy system

Our microcontroller end node receives & retransmits data  from many sensors

Agriculture Data Gateway (DEPLOYED)

We deployed an agriculture data gateway for the farmers in our region lacking 5G or WIFI coverage.  Our LoRaWAN gateway can be used by neighbours up to 30 KM away to put their agriculture data on the internet and thus benefit from forecasting and trend analysis.   These days, past experience is not as useful as accurate forecasting when it comes to estimating future water availability and managing a farm´s water risk.  We plan to help farmers better understand their water availability and thus more accurately plan their production.

Sustainable Energy Hybrid System (DEVELOPED)

We developed plans for, and are now ready to implement,  an extensive renewable energy hybrid system which will seamlessly use solar, wind, hydroelectric and grid energy. We completed an in depth study of our consumption and power requirements thanks to the contributions of several very capable engineers that came to intern from several countries.

Hydroelectric Power Station (PLAN)

We made plans for our hydroelectric power station featuring a 4m diameter Pelton wheel – designed  to knock kids´ socks off and get them to try building their own! Feel free to have a look at the research done by several collaborating students.

An extract from the research paper by Federik and Ayur based on previous/collaborative work by Matteo, Tom, Lauren & Chiara (plus others!)

Farming Robot (COMPLETED)

We finished building the Farm.bot robotic gardener!  It can be used remotely by schools everywhere and teaches programming and robotics in a uniquely green way.

Techlounge (COMPLETED)

We completed our ¨Techlounge¨ a place where green techs can relax and  talk about how we´re gonna fix the world over a good pizza and some home made wine whilst the kids romp in the playfield within sight.

And many other smaller projects – soil sampling, GIS systems, sheep & chickens as fire prevention and fertilization assistants etc.

2023 Events

Wine Harvest

We hosted our wine harvest and associated fete and bottled over 500 bottles of our very own Pansa Blanca!  Please come over and try some!

Family Soccer Days

Our family soccer days are a great starter bringing up to 60 families at a time together to enjoy the outdoors and introduce their kids to Alella Green Tech.  We have often had up to 60 families at one time – creating a very amusing mayhem of galloping kids on the natural grass play field.

 

Mayday for Ukraine 2022

Halloween Pumpkin Patch Kids Event

Over 200 people descended on AGT for our Halloween pumpkin patch party. Over 100 pumpkins were picked. It was a fun way to get a lot of kids to know about us and have fun in nature.  For our youngest visitors fun is what comes first and leads to getting involved and developing a love for nature.

 

Projects On Their Way In 2024

Our student residents sleep in conditions akin to camping and have as one aim to make their area of the farm sustainable –  self-sufficient, or almost, in the areas of water, food, energy, plant and soil nutrition, flood, fire & disease prevention and…FUN!  

In 2024 we will complete these projects:

A micro hydroelectric power station capable of generating over 1KW for several hours.  This will be our potential energy battery – alleviating the need for chemical batteries and giving us power when the sun is not shining. Students will see Bernoulli’s equations and conservation of energy theory in action in the real world!

 

 

An aquarium, made from an ancient water trough,  for ¨fertilizer fish¨ that will provide the nutrients for the various vegetable gardens.  This teaches the principles of aquaponics and produces great veggies!

 

Thanks to Nermina De Wildt for the render which shows our renewable energy and sustainable farming learning center. Coming soon!

A classic wind tower water pump to circulate our fertilized water.  Wind power can be harnessed not only to generate electricity but directly to power mechanical systems.

 

An example of a timber windmill

 

Experimental high tech garden patch – where up to 15 different watering algorithms can be tried out by resident or remote researchers who will write programs to operate the electrical valves, sensors and other equipment. We want to find the most efficient ways to water plants – no more merely time-based watering!

An agriculture robotics and precision farming experimental field.

A 2000m2 field divided into sections – each made available to a green tech robotics company or to high schools – for experimenting with autonomous robots for a variety of tasks.

 

Low Tech Permaculture Projects For 2024

2024 will not be all about high technology – we also will work with pure permaculture.  We plan to:

 

•  Implement a productive forest where existing trees in our woodland are augmented in a symbiotic fashion to arrive at a natural forest which captures its own water, generates its own nutrients, looks natural and produces food for us hungry humans.

 

Regreen our local hill side by implementing the water capture & water retention techniques that we have been studying from the likes of Sepp Holzer of  ¨Desert or Paradise¨.  These techniques have produced extensive sustainably green areas where before there was only desert.  We want to help Alella – and later the planet –  be green again.

 

Create a water retention and Hügelkultur multi-culture mandarine & friends plantation so people can learn low tech methodologies that lead to sustainability.

 

Water retention landscaping and orchard design by Yong Xu. Well done!

 

Improve our outdoor classroom to enhance learning experiences.

 

Our spartan outdoor classroom is used for workshops for adults and children.  We hope to work with the local council to add shelter from the rain. 

Host several community events to generate interest and inspire young people to come and get their hands dirty.

 

Can Picard Vendimia 2021

 

Start running adult green tech workshops. We can all be part of the solution! Our adult workshops aim to help parents keep up with the rapidly expanding tech, AI, design and science knowledge their kids are acquiring.  We also will be providing permaculture and IOT mini courses.  Our kids workshops cover everything from gardening to robotics to water and soil to learning about animals, building things,  and the weather.  We try to provide a real world, ¨get your hands dirty¨ experience continuing on from what kids are learning at school.

 

Farmbot Alella Green Tech workshop

We seek a green minded science teacher that speaks English, Catalan and Spanish to take charge of activities and ed tech facilities at AGT. This is a career position.  Please contact martin@alellagreentech.com

Host Your Event at AGT

Feel free to contact us about hosting your kids birthday at our facilities – especially designed for kids to have fun, be inspired and learn!

Can Picard SL - Alella Green Tech
Mayday for Ukraine 2022

Things at AGT For You To Get Involved With!

You can help prepare the way for young people to come and enjoy, learn, help, exchange ideas and innovate in a unique, natural, sustainable environment – where age-old water, animal, and farming methodologies are rediscovered and blended with cutting edge high technology.  All  are part of the skills our kids will need to have a sustainable future.  These are skills we ALL need.   You can come to AGT to share your knowledge or learn learn about permaculture and green tech through volunteering. We need people with all sorts of skills because there is a great breadth of projects – from online marketing to tending for sheep to helping with water retention projects to  microelectronics to gardening.

Let´s help young people keep their planet green

Our foundation is grateful for information about private/public funding opportunities to help us complete the projects listed in this newsletter.  Our kids deserve it.   We hope you´ll get involved.

Together we can help tool-up young people to build a sustainable future.  It’s now or never.  

We encourage applications from potential patrons and from qualified students and anyone with the desire, skills and/or muscles to help the cause.  Please write to info@alellagreentech.com or to martin@alellagreentech.com

Wishing you all the best for 2024!

Martin Picard
Founder
Alella Green Tech

Alella Green Tech, Cami Baix de Tiana 18, Alella (Barcelona)