Courses / From 2012 Fall - Wwoofer Day of Service (Kaleigh - Jane - Carly)

"Drop Box" (Kaleigh, Carly, Jane)

1. What is the action

Our action to promote sustainability at IES is a day field trip to a local organic farm in Arbucies, Catalonia where students have the opportunity to help the farmer, learn the practices, participate in agricultural work, and in turn receive some form of allowance in goods from the farmer.

1.1. Similar actions from previous semesters

In the spring of 2011 as well as Fall 2012, IES students planned a visit to local organic farms. In Spring 2011, the students visited an ecological farm about an hour south of Barcelona and in Fall 2011, 2-3 IES students gave the opportunity to all IES students to participate in a day trip to an agricultural farm. Our action plan is a follow up of their previous actions, continuing student participation.

Examples from past semesters:
Fall 2012: <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Volunteering+opportunity+at+a+local%2C+sustainable+farm-+Shelby%2C+Mary+Grace&structure=2012b+Fall+Actions>
Spring 2011: <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/IES+Field+Trip&structure=2011b+Fall+Actions>
Fall 2011: <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Wwoofer+day+of+service+march+19&structure=2011a+Spring+Actions>

1.1.1. Why this or a similar action didn't succeed in previous semesters?

This action potentially failed in previous years due to lack of communication with IES faculty in order to sustain the action for future semesters. The fact that the visit was not set up before the semester began also led to the failure of the previous actions. It is important to form a relationship and be consistent with one particular farmer. Unfortunately, we have been advised that farming during the early Spring semester is difficult due to it being off-season. However, farmers are looking for help towards the end of March and beginning of April to start the season.

1.2. SWOT Analysis


  • Creates a sense of community
  • Creating and sustains a relationship between IES and the Arbucies Farm
  • Opportunity to learn about farming and agricultural practices and the importance of local, sustainable farming
  • Providing service and labor/help for the farmer
  • Opens up the eyes of the IES students to life outside the city

  • Not a large variety of dates, only visiting the farm once during the semester (March 2)
  • Limited number of students allowed to go since space is limited in transportation to and from the farm (only 1 car available)
  • March is not the high season for farming, most of the harvest is during November as well as springtime (end of April)
  • The farm is fairly far away and requires several modes of transportation (2.5 hrs)
  • It is impossible to predict or know what the future outcome will be of this action in semesters to come

  • IES students have the opportunity to expand their knowledge on agriculture and interact with locals
  • Therefore providing a good and positive reputation of IES students from the locals
  • Opportunity to receive fresh and organic produce and goods in return for their hard work in the field
  • Have a positive and lasting effect on participating students with their future food choices

  • The participants may possibly forget what they learned about organic farming upon returning to Barcelona or the states
  • There might be a lack of interest among the students since the incentives are limited
  • The trip is optional therefore many students might choose not to be involved and take advantage of the opportunity

1.3. Feedback loops

Our action creates a reinforcing feedback loop since there are both positive and negative relationships among the nodes, below is an explanation of our specific action as a feedback loop:
->IES e-mails and advertises the day trip to an organic farm
->IES students participate in this optional visit to a local, organic farm in Arbucies, Catalonia, two hours North of Barcelona.
-> there is an increase in the participant's knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices, healthy food habits and the benefits of buying local products
-> participants are more likely to support local businesses (LOIS) by buying their products
-> by buying local products they purchase less non-sustainable, large scale business (TINA) products
-> participants share their experience and new purchasing practices with other IES students as well as family members, friends, etc.
-> These people are then influenced and also begin to support local businesses with their newly evolved/changed habits
-> The reputation of IES among the locals increases thus creating a positive relationship between the farmers and the current as well as future student body of IES
-> Opens the door for further visits and trips for IES students to local, organic farms outside of Barcelona

1.4. Advertising

For our action, we sent out an e-mail to all IES students explaining the trip along with an attached flier including a more detailed description of the trip. With both combined, these included the date, times of departure from Barcelona as well as the approximate time of return. The costs of transportation, incentives to donate their time, as well as a contact e-mail for questions or to sign up was included. In the future, it would be helpful to post these fliers around IES and have the email sent weeks in advance.

2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

This action creates an opportunity for IES students to experience sustainable practices through first-hand interaction with a local and productive LOIS business (farm).
This action also improves the sustainability of IES by changing the perspective and common habits of students on local and organic products, particularly food, through their first hand experiences on the farm.
The ecological footprints will decrease if the participants retain and reuse the knowledge gained from their experience on the farm to change their habits/attitudes. In addition, if participants share their practices of buying locally and organically with others, they will in turn have a positive effect on local businesses within their community as well as decrease the demand for large scale business' products. Then, clearly the ecological footprint will decrease outside of IES and have a more lasting positive effect.
Since this local and organic farm is a LOIS business, the "middleman" will be successfully cut out between the producer and the consumer which is more sustainable than supporting a TINA business since they sell directly to the farmers markets or their consumers, such as the IES participants.
This local and organic farm is a small scale business as well which creates a sense of community among the farmer and the local citizens, creating strong and lasting relationships.

2.1. Potential Costs

The overall cost of this action is low yet there are some costs included in carrying out our action. They are as follows:
Cost of train ticket for transportation to the farm- 12 euros each way
Volunteered time of IES students on a Saturday afternoon
Volunteered time of the farmer to pick up the participants from the bus stop, including gas expenses, as well as guidance and instruction on the farm
Volunteered time of Xavier de Pedro to help organize and participate with the students at the farm, as well as a possible payment from IES Abroad Barcelona
The IES staff (whether it is Xavier de Pedro or someone else) will not be paid

3. How will you implement it

To carry out our action, we first need to receive approval from our professor and the farmer to confirm a date for the visit. Then we must organize the trip taking into account the date, the time, the cost and other factors. This action does not require any insurance costs or a signed waiver from IES. We are meeting on Saturday, March 2nd, 2013 at the Hard Rock Café in Placa Cataluna. We plan to leave at 7:30 from Placa Cataluna, taking the L3 to Sants. At 7:46 AM we will take the train from the Renfe station in Sants/Figueres to Saint Celoni, which will arrive at 8:32 AM. Next we will take bus 568 to Placa de Juan Rague which will arrive at 9:02 AM. From there Pep Ribatallada, the farmer will pick us up in a provided car to transport us to his farm. The participants will volunteer their time and labor from 9 AM until 5 PM to assist the farmer. Lunch will be provided by Pep.

In a perfect world there would be more WWOOF farms that would be able to accommodate more students to allow them to have this opportunity. In the last few weeks here we have at IES we can continue to promote this opportunity by talking to IES officials to make this an optional field trip and help to better this sustainable activity so it will continue to happen for future semesters.

Links to our documents used to supplement our action can be found under the annexes heading.

3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

Our action supports the "Cradle to Cradle" design because the resources we use for our action will be recycled. For example, the flyers that will be posted on the IES bulletin boards will be put in the recycling bins available at IES or if they are in decent condition, they will be saved and reused in future semesters. The paper used for the flyers should be made out of 100% recycled items and should be recyclable therefore ensuring that it was reused from previous products and can be reused in the future. This might be difficult, but if possible the action should be designed in this manner.
The feedback from local businesses, the farmer, and students will create “food” or a motivation to complete the trip in the following semesters. Ultimately, there would be no waste from our action besides that created from the train used for transportation purposes. Students’ knowledge gained from their experience would then be spread to their friends/families, who would hopefully participate in a day of service or buy locally grown, sustainable products. Overall, community relationships would be strengthened, decreasing its dependence on big companies and outsourcing.
Redesign: Instead of printing out many fliers, IES could email once before the students arrived and once about a week after arrival. This would decrease our use of paper, ink, and materials needed to hang the fliers. More importantly, the two emails would inform students in advance of this opportunity, aiding in the incorporation of this field trip into their schedules.

3.2. Questions for the unified survey

This semester we did not have enough time to implement a survey. However, possible questions which could be asked early on in future semesters could include the following:
Would you be interested in a day of service for around 6 hours one Saturday, in exchange for produce?
Have you completed a day of service on an organic farm before?
Which day would be best for you to complete this day of service?
How much are you willing to pay for transportation to and from the farm?

3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey

From these answers, future semesters could collect and interpret which days would be best for students to volunteer. Other information gained would be the limit to the amount of money transportation costs; possibly creating an opportunity for IES to take part in some funding. Overall, the survey would give students an idea of the amount of interests students have in this field trip service day.

3.4. Incentives

The participants would receive a basket of produce from the farm.
The participants also are given the opportunity to practice their Spanish with the locals, see a different part of Spain, and learn about sustainable agricultural practices.

3.5. Relationship with the Other initiatives being implemented

If there were to be a Sustainability Club recreated, our action would fully incorporate the goals of a sustainable food lifestyle. Members could also share their knowledge from the field trip as well as set up dates for the following semester or even another for the current semester.

3.6. How will this action be sustained when you are not here?

IES will need to send out emails at the beginning of the semester, possibly before students arrive, informing them of this optional field trip. This field trip should be included in the agenda as well as being posted around IES in the form of fliers. For this to be successful, IES must approve this field trip to their list of scheduled field trips. There is no need for someone to sustain this action between semesters other than the email sent out initially which can be set up through Jane Ewart. This action does not need a commitment from a professor or staff to participate in the field trip, however this does make translation easier for students if the farmer were to speak little English. Professor Xavier de Pedro will only need to provide the IES office and students who chose to attend the field trip with the farmer’s email address (and possibly phone number).

3.7. Comparison to similar actions from previous semesters

Our action is similar to Spring 2011 design plan since this trip is open to all IES students. Prior to Spring 2011, this action was only available to Sustainability Club Members. The members of the group from Spring 2012 sought to reach out to the entire IES student population, not just the members of the Sustainability club or students of the Sustainability class. This year we are visiting a new, different farm run by Pep, at a different time, but we are still providing our labor in exchange for goods from the farm and gaining knowledge on sustainable agricultural practices.

4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

IES Staff Member, before the start of the semester...Email the farmer, Juan Sanchez to confirm a visit to the farm during the first two weeks of the semester (email:jsrodriguez1948@gmail.com)
(Juan could not work with the dates (24th of February, 2nd of March) because most of the available work needed to be done by professionals.
We spoke with Pep Ribatallada and confirmed the date of Saturday, March 2, 2013. His email address is clararibatallada at gmail.com)
IES Staff Member, one week before the semester starts and again a week after the semester starts... Send out an email to the IES student body within the first two weeks providing appropriate information (including the set date) on the visit
IES Staff Members, before the start of the semester...Set up a system to enroll students
Students...start of the semester...Email Pep informing him the amount of students participating and what time you will be arriving (using the below information on train schedule):
Students.. start of the semester...Train schedule to set up departure and return times <(http://www.renfe.com/viajeros/cercanias/barcelona/index.html)>
Students...a week after email is sent out...Confirm dates with farmer
Students to IES...IES emails two weeks before trip...confirm dates with students enrolled

4.1. Who will do what

The minimum number of people that would be needed to sustain this action would be the 2 students and possibly one chaperone. The hope is to get other IES students involved and therefore the maximum number of people involved in the action would be 11 (the two students, one chaperone, eight volunteers). Also, in order to make our action completely sustainable an IES staff should be involved to ensure that the opportunity is rightfully advertised for the students, whether being included in the IES orientation or in the IES student planners, but positively sent out through an email.

5. Document format

We used both Microsoft Word (.docx), which allows students to edit our flier and Adobe PDF.

6. Bibliography

"TURISME · VILANOVA I LA GELTRÚ ·." TURISME · VILANOVA I LA GELTRÚ ·. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.vilanovaturisme.net/>.
History and Beginnings." WWOOF Association. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.wwoofinternational.org/history.php>.
Field Trip: Sustainable Farm Practices. Fall 2011. Marszalek, Elisa, and Tessa Permut, <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/IES+Field+Trip&structure=2011b+Fall+Actions>
Wwoofer Day of Service March 19. Spring 2011, McDonald, Kelsey, <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Wwoofer+day+of+service+march+19&structure=2011a+Spring+Actions>
Volunteering Opportunity at a Local, Sustainable Farm. Spring 2012. Hathaway, Mary Grace and Koebley, Shelby

7. Annexes

Images from past trips:

Copy of Email sent to students of IES:

Good afternoon!
We're excited to announce that IES is offering an additional field trip! Join us March 2nd at 7:30 am at the Hard Rock Cafe in Plaza Catalunya to visit an organic farm right outside of Barcelona! Work side-by-side with a farmer and learn the value of local, sustainable farming and agricultural practices. At the end of the day, student even the chance to bring back a variety of fruits and vegetables that they helped produce! Don't miss this opportunity to give back to the community that you can now call home! Please view the attached flyer for details regarding the event.
Any questions, including ones regarding travel information, please contact (student’s name) by email at (student’s email).


__Unless elsewhere noted, the contents of this report are released with a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike copyright license [[http://creativecommons.org]]

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: Other individuals are allowed copy, distribute, and adapt the work as long as the work is attributed back to the original authors, is not used for commercial purposes, and is shared under the same or similar license as this one.

7.2. What did you learn and what did you incorporate from the feedback received?

Between the first and second deadline, we sent out an email to assess the amount of interest students had in participating. We received more interest than expected, however, the cost of roundtrip transportation and short notice deferred all of our willing participants. In the future, it is extremely important to get this information to students with much time in advance. If possible, IES could even cut the cost of this trip for students, making it more accessible to each student.

7.3. Acknowledgements

Professor Xavier de Pedro for his time, effort and communication with the farmer.
The farmer, Pep Ribatallada for his commitment to having students participate in this day of service.
Jane Ewart for emailing the entire student body at IES.

7.4. Students involved in this action

Mary Grace Hathaway and Shelby Koebley (Fall 2012)
Kaleigh VanVolkenburgh, Carly Rosendale and Jane Hebert (Spring 2013)

Page last modified on Sunday 07 of April, 2013 22:40:30