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Participatory City


Participatory City, a non-profit organisation based in Barking and Dagenham, London, has dedicated its efforts to promoting community engagement and co-design. Its diverse initiatives and international partnerships encourage individuals to spearhead and manage community projects. Among these initiatives, a two-tier public community garden is a testament to democratic participation, fostering community bonds and contributing to local social, environmental, and economic benefits.

However, the upkeep of such a public space presented a significant challenge, particularly regarding efficient and effective watering. With a strong commitment to the environment and community, Participatory City sought an automated solution that could conserve water, promote better plant growth, and reduce unnecessary maintenance costs.

The Challenge: Inefficient Watering and High Maintenance Costs

The diverse range of plants in the community garden required careful and consistent watering. Traditional methods proved inefficient, leading to considerable water wastage. This was not only environmentally unsustainable but also escalated maintenance costs – a significant concern for a non-profit organisation. Furthermore, the manual watering process was time-consuming and demanded constant supervision, resources that could be better utilised in other community initiatives.

The Solution: Comprehensive Aardra Systems Installation

To address these challenges, we recommended a comprehensive installation of Aardra Systems. The key components of this system include

  • IoT Irrigation Controller: This device, the central control unit for the irrigation system, manages water release and processes data from various connected sensors. It enables remote management and programming of the irrigation schedule and connects to the Aardra Cloud Platform via a dedicated mobile data connection.
  • Sentor Moisture Sensor: This sensor measures soil moisture levels in real-time, relaying this data to the IoT Irrigation Controller. Consequently, the system can adjust the watering schedule based on the garden’s needs.
  • Sencom: This solar-powered wireless communicator ensures seamless data transmission between the Sentor and the IoT controller, facilitating real-time communication across the garden.
  • Flow Meter: Installed at the water source, this device measures water usage and flow rate, enabling Participatory City to monitor and manage water usage effectively.
  • Valtor: This smart water valve regulates water supply based on the system’s needs, ensuring optimal garden irrigation.

To ensure a consistent and sufficient water supply for the garden, a solar-powered water pump was integrated into the Aardra Systems setup. The pump, powered by solar energy, provided the necessary pressure to distribute water throughout the garden efficiently. This sustainable solution significantly reduced water wastage, embodying Participatory City’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

In addition to the pump, the IoT Irrigation Controller was powered by a dedicated solar panel in addition to the pump. This allowed the controller to operate efficiently, even in a location without readily available electrical power. This sustainable setup ensured the seamless operation of the irrigation system, providing real-time data and control over water usage without increasing the garden’s carbon footprint. With this setup, Participatory City could effectively manage its community garden’s irrigation needs in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.

Implementation and Integration

The Aardra Systems installation was meticulously planned and executed to minimise disruption to the community garden. The IoT Irrigation Controller was installed safely within the garden, ensuring its protection while maintaining easy access for necessary adjustments. The Sentor moisture sensor and Sencom were strategically placed at multiple reference points throughout the garden, allowing for accurate, area-specific readings of soil moisture levels.

A Flow Meter was installed at the water source to comprehensively understand the system’s water usage. This device is connected to the IoT Controller, offering Participatory City precise, real-time data about the water consumption in the garden.

A solar-powered water pump and a smart water valve (Valtor) were integrated into the system to ensure an uninterrupted water supply. The pump, powered entirely by solar panels, provided the necessary water pressure for the garden’s irrigation system. The Valtor, installed downstream of the pump, allowed meticulous control over the water flow to the garden, ensuring each area received the right amount of water at the right time.

Results: Streamlined Maintenance, Water Conservation, and Sustainability

The introduction of Aardra Systems marked a significant shift in community garden management. The system’s intelligent design and automated features substantially improved the garden’s health and vibrancy, streamlined the maintenance routine, and led to significant time and cost savings.

The Sentor moisture sensor was instrumental in this transformation. Providing real-time soil moisture data, it facilitated a dynamic watering schedule that accurately catered to the garden’s needs. This precision, coupled with the strategic positioning of irrigation pipes, ensured the garden received the right amount of water at the right time, thereby eliminating the risk of overwatering.

The real-time data from the Flow Meter, accessible via the IoT Controller, offered clear insights into water usage. This enabled efficient resource management and led to a significant reduction in water waste, resonating deeply with Participatory City’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

Furthermore, the Aardra Cloud App and Platform facilitated efficient work routines for the community members maintaining the garden. The app’s insights allowed them to respond proactively to the garden’s needs, enhancing their effectiveness and overall health and beauty.

The Aardra Systems’ solar-powered setup also contributed to the garden’s sustainability credentials. The system significantly reduced the garden’s carbon footprint by harnessing solar energy to power the water pump and the IoT controller, aligning perfectly with Participatory City’s commitment to environmental stewardship.


Integrating Aardra Systems into Participatory City’s community garden presented a solution that aligned seamlessly with the organisation’s ethos and objectives. The system’s advanced features and automation relieved the community members of the time-intensive task of manual watering, freeing up their time to engage in other community initiatives. The robust analytics and real-time feedback enabled them to maintain the garden more effectively, leading to healthier plants, significant water savings, and a more vibrant community space.

In addition to the tangible benefits of healthier plants, reduced costs, and time savings, Participatory City’s adoption of Aardra Systems signalled a commitment to a more sustainable future. This transformed their approach to garden care and enriched the community’s experience of the space, demonstrating the value of smart, connected, and sustainable gardening solutions.

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