CretAgroTech: The Science-Environmental-Cultural Park of the Hellenic Mediterranean University’s Farm

CretAgrotech

 

Within the context of the invitation for submission of competitive proposals for the “Transportation Infrastructure, Environment, and Sustainable Development” Business Program and Priority Axis 14 regarding the “Preservation and Protection of the Environment – Promotion of the Efficient Use of Resources”, which is co-funded by the Cohesion Fund and the 2014-2020 Partnership Agreement for the Development Framework (PA), and focuses on Action 14.6iv.33.33.1: “Upgrading and modernizing interventions for the promotion of science - cultural - environmental parks”,

the proposal of the School of Agricultural Sciences of the Hellenic Mediterranean University called:

“CretAgroTech: The Science-Environmental-Cultural Park of the Hellenic Mediterranean University’s Farm”

was approved with code No. MIS/OPS-PA 5002026.

This proposal was awarded an excellent grade of 65.3 and was among the first 5 proposals of the 20 that were funded in total (the score of the first proposal being 67.4 and that of the last proposal being 44.1, according to the relevant announcement with Ref. No. 4422/21-03-2017 of the “Transportation Infrastructure, Environment, and Sustainable Development” Business Program). As stated in its title, this emblematic project aims to further utilize the infrastructure and untapped areas of the Hellenic Mediterranean University Farm, as described below, as well as to make them accessible not only to undergraduate students, graduates, and the Teaching and Research Staff of our University, but also to all potential visitors coming from the Region of Crete, Greece, and other countries.

This Project has a final total budget of €994,869.11 (including VAT €192,555.31) and its two-phase implementation plan has already been set in motion through the following Subprojects:

Phase A:

SUBPROJECT 1: Botanical Park Study for CretAgroTech

This Subproject has already started and is currently being realized after the announcement of a low-value (accelerated) tender for the conclusion of a technical study contract, which is a precondition for the implementation of Subproject 2 (as per the Invitation).

Result of SUBPROJECT 1: Study (issues and drafts) regarding the CretAgroTech Botanical Park. Tender documents regarding the subcontractor’s contract for Subproject 2.

Duration of Subproject Realization Process (Months): 6

Phase B:

SUBPROJECT 2: Botanical Park Landscaping Process

This Subproject will be implemented by awarding a contract through a below-threshold open tender according to Law 4412/2016, and will comprise (after the unification of the former subprojects 2 and 3) the following: configuration of the necessary infrastructure to allow the park to be open to visitors; planting rare native and endemic species of the Cretan flora; planting aromatic and medicinal Cretan plants.

Result of SUBPROJECT 2: Botanical Park “CretAgroTech” in full operation, properly structured and open to the public, in accordance with the Study conducted within the framework of Subproject 1.

Duration of Subproject Realization Process (Months): 24+6 (Includes the implementation of Subproject 3 which was practically incorporated in Subproject 2 after their unification).
 

SUB-PROJECT 4: Laboratory equipment for the production of vineyard propagation material.

This Subproject will be implemented by awarding a relevant (procurement) contract, and will focus on the equipment that is necessary for Subproject 5.

Result of SUBPROJECT 4: Procurement of necessary laboratory equipment: 1. Horizontal laminar flow chamber; and 2. In vitro seedling development bench made of aluminum that has an adjustable base and an irrigation and heating automated system.

Duration of Subproject Realization Process (Months): 3

 

SUBPROJECT 5: Installation of pilot vineyard for demonstration purposes.

This Subproject will be implemented through an open tender in accordance with Law 4412/2016, and will comprise the provision of vaccination services, sanitation and reproduction of propagation material, and vineyard installation.

Result of SUBPROJECT 5: Pilot vineyard for demonstration purposes, where vaccinations, sanitation, and reproduction of propagation material can take place.

Duration of Subproject Realization Process (Months): 44

 

SUBPROJECT 6: Mechanical equipment for a micro-winery open to visitors.

This Subproject will be implemented through the announcement of a low-value (accelerated) procurement tender, and will focus on the equipment necessary to upgrade the existing micro-winery unit of the School of Agriculture used for demonstrating the production process.

Result of SUBPROJECT 5: Procurement of micro-winery mechanical equipment: refrigerator, tanks, winemaker, indoor air compressor, pneumatic press, oak barrels, and semi-automatic filling machine for wineskins and bottles.

Duration of Subproject Realization Process (Months): 3

 

SUBPROJECT 7: Irrigation water management equipment for biological treatment and liquid waste.

This Subproject will be implemented by awarding a relevant (procurement) contract, and will focus on procuring equipment to facilitate the park’s irrigation using the effluents (treated water) produced through the biological treatment of wastewater, as well as by other wastewater treatment units that already exist for demonstration purposes.

Result of SUBPROJECT 7: Procurement of equipment: wastewater pumps, digital wastewater flowmeters, on-line meters with digital screens and metal non-slip platforms.

Duration of Subproject Realization Process (Months): 3

 

SUBPROJECT 8: Marketing plan for the “CRETAGROTECH” Park.

This Subproject will be implemented through the announcement of a low-value (accelerated) supply tender, and will comprise the elaboration of a plan for the promotion of the Park’s actions (after its completion), in order to maximize the impact, traffic, and effect it will have on the local community and beyond.

Result of SUBPROJECT 8: Marketing Plan for the CretAgroTech Park

Duration of Subproject Realization Process (Months): 5

 

Highlighting the Necessity and Urgency of the Project:

Crete is an island with four large mountain ranges that cover most of its surface. It is known for its rich and interesting flora, numbering more than 1,800 species and subspecies of plants, 220 of which are endemic. One third of the endemic plants of Crete are endangered or on the verge of extinction. The richness of the Cretan flora is attributed to the geographical location of the island, its geological history, and the variety of climatic conditions it exhibits. Moreover, the continuous changes of the landscape from mountains, to gorges, islets, etc. creates a variety of habitats with unique conditions. 55 of the 109 habitat types that can be found throughout Greece, as recorded by Natura 2000, are located in Crete. However, even though approximately 1/3 of all Greek plant species grow on the island, there is no well-organized botanical garden to collect them. The Cretan endemic plants are protected by Greek Law (Government Gazette 23/Α/30-1-1981) and are recorded by various organizations and nature protection programs. Some rare species are kept in the few and far between Greek botanical gardens, but none of them has all the native and endemic plants of Crete gathered together. The purpose of the proposed project is to create an indicative representation of the flora found in the lowland, semi-mountainous, and mountainous areas of Crete, which will contribute to the rescue, conservation, and showcasing of rare and endangered native and endemic species of the unique Cretan flora, within the specific and scientifically controlled environment of the proposed Botanical Park.

Innovative Aspects of the Project:

The proposed project includes several innovative actions that make it very appealing to visitors, such as:

- planting native plants, both small in size and more developed, all representative of the Cretan natural ecosystems;

- creating miniature versions of the flora, the grasslands, and forest areas of the island;

- collecting micro-plants from nature and then reproducing them in the Floriculture Laboratory of the School of Agricultural Technology, or procuring them from areas undergoing deforestation carried out by the Forest Service of the island to create firebreaks;

- reusing the Biologically Treated Liquid Waste of Heraklion and the recycled water produced through tertiary treatment for irrigation purposes;

- applying an innovative enrichment methodology in order to collect endemic plant varieties and create the Native Plant Collection Vineyard for Exhibitions and the New Exhibition Vineyard for Visitors;

- creating a Phytosanitary File for each vine biotype, which will be immediately used for the creation of the Model pilot vineyard for visitors showcasing native wine varieties;

- completing energy saving interventions through the usage of intelligent lighting management systems.

The Contribution of the CretAgroTech Project towards Specific Objectives:

The proposed CretAgroTech Action/Project is a project that can breathe life to a strong Academic Institution such as the Hellenic Mediterranean University (former TEI of Crete), and especially to its School of Agriculture, which is one of a kind in the entire Region of Crete. This Project contributes to the promotion of the natural, cultural, and tourist capital of the region, as well as its scientific character. The necessity to immediately implement and complete said Project is clear, seeing as it directly relates to the community of the area, with the specific objectives identified above all focusing on the preservation of the island’s cultural heritage through the conservation and promotion of agri-food habits associated with the Cretan Diet and flora. It strongly reflects society’s needs when it comes to innovation, education, and culture, as well as when promoting environmental sensitivity. It directly contributes to highlighting the importance of the region’s physiognomy and special cultural and environmental characteristics. It is also conducive to the enhancement of environmental awareness and, indirectly, the financial revitalization of local businesses by creating stimuli and scientific interaction with agricultural and wine-producing companies. In addition, the scope of this Project exceeds the limits of the Municipality of Heraklion, i.e. the area it belongs to, and covers the entire Region of Crete due to its unique features. 

Expected Benefits / Target Population:

1. Protection and conservation of the Cretan flora and the species threatened with extinction – preservation of genetic material;

2. Study of plant bio-ecology, and research on the aromatic-medicinal and ornamental properties of plants, as well as the reproduction and cultivation of wild edible plants;

3. Scientific cooperation between domestic and foreign institutions;

4. Improvement and enhancement of the natural environment;

5. Promotion of environmental awareness and education directed towards citizens and students;

6. Establishment of recreational areas and environmental education;

7. Attracting local and foreign visitors;

8. Creation of a “green lung” on the outskirts of the city of Heraklion;

9. Improvement of the area’s microclimate (temperature reduction, increase of air humidity, air pollution reduction);

10. The entire Botanical Park will become a standard in terms of recycling, limited use of chemicals (environmentally friendly only) and energy, rational water management, and preservation of the balance of nature.