GEA is located on the outskirts of Pistoia in the area of the former airfield between the Firenze-Mare motorway, the Pistoia toll booth, the motorway link and the new hospital.
It covers an area of about 25 hectares, half of which are occupied by a prestigious park with adult trees that comprise an extraordinary collection of ornamental plants.
The CARIPT Foundation recently took over the pre-existing Ce.Spe.Vi., transforming it into the new instrumental company GEA green economy and agriculture s.r.l. with the aim of progressively creating a Science and Biotechnological Park to allow for a fruitful exchange between local entrepreneurial activities, the world of research, higher education and advanced services to companies.
They house offices, meeting rooms, laboratories and warehouses. The main building was recently redeveloped and contains the GEA offices and a large conference room that is also available for meetings and external get-togethers. The remaining premises host various organisations linked to the local agricultural world, including the Phytosanitary Laboratory of the Tuscany Region.
In addition, the Centre also has organised areas for crops in container and two large iron and glass greenhouses, within which an educational laboratory for observations and experiments has recently been built.
Since 1989, the Centre has been home to a computerised meteorological station that records and maintains a database of measurements. It has recently been renovated and updated with the most modern and advanced measuring instruments.
In the dedicated sections of the website, it is possible to consult the weather data detected by the station in real time, as well as the historical archive of the recordings.
A portion of one of the two greenhouses has recently been renovated to house a permanent laboratory for educational and informative use. It has been equipped with all the most modern equipment such as digital stereoscopes, video projectors and personal computers to host interactive and multimedia lessons on subjects related to botany, biology, chemistry and agriculture, aimed at primary, middle and secondary school students, as well as those with an interest in the sector.
The two iron and glass greenhouses, which cover an area of over 1,000 square metres, are used for the propagation of plants by sowing or cutting and for sheltering plants grown in pots over winter. They are heated and equipped with automatic irrigation and ventilation control systems.
Depending on the seasons, the plants are housed in special open equipped areas for growing container crops, with both localised and rain irrigation systems, protected by a fence to prevent damage from the various wild animals living in the park. There is also an umbrella with wooden pallets to house the most sensitive plants, especially the herbaceous plants, which form a very special collection.
These cultivation areas are also used to develop trials and tests of new products and advanced technologies at the service of agriculture, in collaboration with the most important companies in the sector.
The collections of ornamental plants are part of the Banca del Germoplasma (Germplasm Bank), a project conceived over 30 years ago with the aim of collecting different varieties and verifying their genetic and phytosanitary correspondence, in order to preserve their genetic heritage. They consist of conifers, trees and flowering shrubs and hedges. They were initially created by the Institute to propagate the wood species of the C.N.R. of Florence, and were subsequently expanded in collaboration with the Department of Horticulture of the University of Florence.
It is an important scientific and environmental organisation, as well as an effective teaching tool for spreading knowledge of plants among students and people interested in the sector. Currently it also constitutes a very pleasant extensive park, with well-developed specimens of unique beauty.