Smart Farm & Permaculture Garden in Croatia

One of the most significant contributions to the sustainability of the RAISE Youth initiative in Croatia is the establishment of the pilot permaculture garden and smart farm in Lika. This initiative has generated substantial interest within the local community, drawing attention from stakeholders and business owners. The permaculture garden and smart farm represent an innovative approach to agriculture, challenging traditional methods and promoting sustainable farming practices.

The Pilot Permaculture Regenerative Garden in Perušić serves as a platform to educate local farmers and NEETs about sustainable agricultural production methods. It exemplifies cultivation based on regenerative agriculture principles, showcasing innovative techniques and systems. The RAISE Youth team, along with external experts and volunteers, has been responsible for maintaining the permaculture garden since spring 2022. The garden has become a focal point for organized visits, attracting curious individuals and groups eager to learn about different farming techniques.

Through market analysis and informal communication with local agriculture stakeholders, the RAISE Youth team identified key challenges faced by vegetable producers, including limited growing seasons, land availability, and funding constraints for irrigation systems. In response, the team aimed to provide a sustainable solution by developing a hydroponic farm model inspired by successful aeroponic farms in the USA. This innovative approach allows for efficient plant cultivation with significantly reduced water consumption compared to traditional methods.

The local community has shown strong support for the hydroponic farm project, recognizing its potential to address food production challenges and promote sustainable agriculture. Public interest has been evident, with visits from community members and local government representatives, including the deputy mayor of Perušić municipality, Mihael Kurteš, who emphasized the project’s importance for the entire Lika-Senj County.

The overall sustainability model of the smart farm solution goes beyond agricultural production, aiming to shift the mindset of the local community towards embracing sustainable practices. By showcasing innovative techniques like hydroponics and aeroponics, the smart farm serves as an educational hub for visitors from diverse backgrounds, including farmers, students, policymakers and others who will be multipliers of this model. Through guided tours and interactive workshops, visitors gain insights into efficient water usage, crop diversity, and the potential for year-round food production in challenging climates.

The partnership between GTF-ISG and a local restaurant further enhances the impact of the smart farm by creating a direct market link for the farm’s produce. Starting in the 2024 season, the restaurant will feature ingredients from the permaculture garden and smart farm in its dishes, showcasing the quality and sustainability of locally grown food. This collaboration not only supports the local economy but also raises awareness among restaurant guests about the benefits of supporting sustainable agriculture practices.

In addition to its practical applications, the smart farm represents a pioneering initiative in Lika-Senj County, serving as a model for future agricultural development in rural Croatia. By demonstrating the feasibility and benefits of alternative farming methods, the project aims to inspire other communities to adopt sustainable practices and explore innovative solutions to agricultural challenges.

Looking ahead, the permaculture garden and smart farm will play a vital role in community education and contribute to economic revitalization. The project’s success underscores the potential for collaboration between stakeholders, government agencies, and local businesses to create lasting positive impacts on agriculture, entrepreneurship, and environmental stewardship in Croatia’s rural regions. Through ongoing partnerships and knowledge sharing, the RAISE Youth initiative continues to pave the way for sustainable development and inclusive growth, guided by principles of innovation, education, and community engagement.