KWMC have been working with artist Kasia Molga: http://www.studiomolga.com to explore how environmental sensors could help growers, plants and pollinators to:
Relate differently: developing more caring and mutually beneficial relationships
Connect more: forming new networks of knowledge and support
Communicate better: experiencing new ways to share/sense data
Through 2021 Kasia has been working with the first local Knowle West residents to have We Can Make homes, as well as local expert growers and gardeners from Knowle West. Kasia, who is based in Kent, has been leading hybrid workshops to explore what sensors can do and how we could use them to help us understand & relate to our gardens better.
From these sessions we found out that most people wanted to know how to care for their plants – especially when to water the plants and wondered if there could be some way for the garden to communicate its needs more clearly. Together they designed an object to go in your garden which would tell you when a plant was thirsty by playing a tune through a music box and showing simple messages like ‘I need water’ on a small screen or through flashing lights.
Kasia explains that, “The music box plays when soil needs water. Moisture was mapped with the help from Don – local expert grower, and experience of his finger in various types of soil and its moisture, dependent on types of plants. Needless to say that no device will ever measure up to the knowledge and experience of our elders. It is such an honour to try to preserve & share his wisdom”.
The latest workshop involved local residents designing creative casing for the sensors so they can be waterproofed. Brilliant ideas came up from casing the sensors to look like mini houses or beautiful hearts. Prototyping and testing is happening now, including how to power the sensors using solar.
The aim is that every new We Can Make home has one of these musical sensor boxes as part of the ‘Kit of Parts’ welcome pack and perhaps, in the future, Knowle West will have a unique sensor network of gardens and humans in communication.