Table of contents
- 0. Summary & Keywords
- 1. What is the action
- 2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?
- 3. How will you implement it
- 4. Time-sheet / Chronogram (Prototype of Schedule)
- 5. Hydroponics Brief
- 6. Document format
- 7. Bibliography
- 8. Other References
- 9. Annexes
Group Members: Lindsay Rickert, Keri Gee, William Macfarlane, Rosie Hakim, Casey Kuglar, Wilson Macmillam
- fix existing garden and rain irrigation sytstem
- plan an IES community lunch using local foods and whatever vegetables/ herbs we grow
- create a composting/conservation curiculum
- Instagram contest-best photo
- Rosie & Kerri: Hydroponic Gardening
- Willson & Will: Fix Irrigation System
- Lindsay and Casey: Vertical Garden
- Entire Group: Instagram Contest & Community Lunch
0. Summary & Keywords
- We have taken on an initiative to create a community hanging garden at IES. Through inspiration from past years and the idea of using the garden as a vehicle to unite the IES community in with sustainability-driven purpose, we chose to take this project on. The following text describes our garden prototype in great depth. It also explores an attempt to create a drip irrigation system and lessons we learned from this experiment. The document also highlights how we will engage the IES community in sponsoring and maintaining our garden with the hope that this can be a long-term initiative that survives and thrives from each semester to the next. After a discussion of our marketing plan, incentives to motivate the community, and how our project will coexist with and complement the sustainability guide written by the other group, we conclude with a discussion of aquaponics. Aquaponics became relevant to our project as a potential sustainable way to maintain a garden. However, as the text reveals, there are specific obstacles that limited the feasibility of this solution in the context of our project. We highlight future implications for how aquaponics could one day be used in an IES garden to conclude our analysis.
irrigation system, hydroponics, vertical garden, drip irrigation,
1. What is the action
1.1. Similar actions form previous semesters
- There was one rain water collector designed a few semesters ago, it collected rainwater automatically in a big container with a tap and jars could be refilled manually to water plants. This system is flawed because it requires someone to water the plants every day. With our system's drop irrigation, it can be fully sustainable andnot require someone to fill a jar everyday.
1.2. Why this or a similar action didn't succed in previous semesters?
- Difference: adding an irrigation system trial to experiment in order to better understand how this project can be done in the future to be self-sufficient
1.3. SWOT Analysis
- Creates edible crops for the IES community
- Portable nature allows for adaptability of location - we can bring the gardens indoors if need be
- Requires manual input - human watering the garden
- Watering the garden during the weekends- how will this be done?
- Bring the IES community together by working together to take care of the garden
- Provide fresh produce for IES students and staff
- During the off seasons it will be difficult for the garden to survive due to the lack of people on campus
- Weather is unpredictable and can have an effect on the plants
1.4. Feedback loops
- One essential feedback loop that would allow our system to thrive and grow would be a semester-long sale, where veggies from the garden would be sold at a very reasonable price to IES students (1-5 euros per serving of vegetables). The money collected from this sale would be used to fund future maitenance of the garden. Atlhough we would require an initial administrative investment for some of the tools to create the garden and irrigation system, this veggie sale would allow us to keep propelling the system forward without having to use the administration's money once again. With 600 potential buyers, we believe we could raise enough money through this tactic to create a feedback loop where our vegetables would serve as a food source for students, and their money would feed directly into funding the growth and prosperity of our garden.
- To raise awareness about our garden installation and its sustainable context, we would like to propose five different advertising methods in order to engage the IES abroad community. First, we would publish information about the garden on the IES website. Specifically, we could request from the administration to have our own tab on Moodle, especially in the garden's early stages. Students would be able to click the tab to read about the project and there would be an email address posted for students to reach out to if they are interested in getting involved with the garden by helping maintain or promote it. Secondly, we would host a live event to introduce the garden to students, and implement a social media competition. The idea of the competition would be to incentivize students to donate as many water bottles as possible to our recycling bin that we would use as a way to collect bottles for our garden and irrigations system and to make sure these watter bottles aren't simple being trashed or recycled. The student who donates the most water bottles would be awarded with the ability to have first pick once the garden has grown its first round of vegetables. Thirdly, we would use a number of flyers to engage the community, strategically placing them near printers and computers so that students will see and read them. The flyers would have email addresses of the students, teachers and faculty involved in the project so that students could reach out to become involved. To accompany this print-based marketing tactic, we would have an IES-wide email sent out to inform students about the garden and ways to get involved. Lastly, we would extend our marketing initiative to cross-collaborating with the sustainable guide group, who could have a page or two featuring the garden as a way to get involved with the environmental community at IES.
2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?
2.1. Potential Costs
- Tools to create:
- Maitenence cost: the time/effort it will take for an employee to regularly attend to the gardens
3. How will you implement it
3.1. Prototype (or Proof of Concept)
- "Ultranatura Automatic Holiday Plant Irrigation System." Ultranatura_UK. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
- The process of putting together the watering system was straightforward and easy. The instructions were laid out in a simple format, and all parts were in the box. The only thing that you need is an empty bucket to fill with water and batteries.
- One of the things I struggled with was getting in contact with the head of gardening over break. Also, the system in which the batteries are in is not waterproof. For future students, there is room to improve this watering system by creating a cover for the system, in order to keep it dry. Furthermore, the actual implementation of this system in the school garden is possible.
- This watering system is absolutely sustainable in the sense it uses very little maintenance. The only thing that needs to be moderated is the water source in which this system pulls from. Although this system can’t supply all of the plants in the garden it can help towards the future sustainability of the garden.
Vertical Garden Prototype
Step 1: Use the scissors to create two holes at the top of the bottle (when horizontal) and two holes at the bottom. See the picture for an example. We marked the placement of the holes with smiley face stickers as a guide and clear demonstration for those following along at home.
Step 2: Use the scissors to create a wide opening at the top of the bottle. This will provide more room for the plant to grow and allow for easy watering. See the pictures for an example. We marked the perimeter of the opening with tape as a guide and clear demonstration for those following along at home.
Step 3: Use the scissors to create one additional hole at the bottom of the bottle. This allows for the water that is being used to irrigate the seedlings to then drain. See the picture for an example. We marked the placement and, this time, size of the hole with a smiley face sticker.
Step 4: Thread the rope through one of the top holes and pull out through one of the bottom holes. Repeat on the remaining side. See the picture for an example.
Note: In order to insure the bottle does not “slip” on the rope, tie a large knot in the rope or add a washer at the end of the rope before tying a knot. We used a rope 3 mm in diameter and did not need to use washers. We tied a bowline knot which makes a secure loop that does not slip or bind under a load. Below is a link with a demonstration video.
Step 6: Adjust and attach the ropes to a wall/ stair railing/ terrace railing at the desired length. See the pictures for examples.
Note: We tied a two half-hitches knot around the stair railing. Below is a link with a
We chose to arrange the individual gardens diagonally to create an aesthetically pleasing display that demonstrated the various heights and span that the gardens could be hung at. Ideally, gardens would have covered the entire area under the steps and would align in a stacked structure. Our arrangement was merely to show the scope of what the project can become and the space it is capable of utilizing.
Step 7: All that is left is to fill each bottle with soil and seedlings!
Strengths: We liked this prototype for two main reasons. First, constructing these gardens is easily accessible to students. We found all of the materials around our apartments and homestays, except for the rope, which was purchased for seven euros and could be used to make around twenty-five gardens. Also, the only tool required is scissors unlike other designs that involve the use of handsaws, drills, and blowtorches. This makes the monetary cost next to nothing for the construction of an entire network of gardens. Beyond that, assembly was done at a kitchen table within a span of ten minutes. Again, this rivals designs that require more skill, labor, space, and time. Our second reason is a benefit of the first. Because our design is so accessible, this will lead to improved participation. Ideally, students could create their gardens at home, transport them to the IES, add soil and seedlings, and expand upon the vertical garden. Our hope is that by each student building and individualizing their own garden, they will feel more responsible and committed to the project. The ultimate goal of our project is to facilitate an environment where knowledge is created and shared. We saw this vertical garden initiative as a means to achieve that goal. The education and collaboration components are truly what makes this project sustainable and will lead to a long-term operation. In hindsight, we should have designed an educational outreach program to complement our efforts. We think that is where previous semester projects, not just those with a similar action, have also been unsuccessful. Students beyond those in this class need to be invested and interested in these actions for any lasting impact to occur.
Weaknesses: While the initial construction of our gardens is easy and affordable, a tradeoff exists between this and the preferred quality of more sophisticated vertical garden designs. Materials such as wood and PVC pipe allow for increased durability. Electronic features such as sensors that monitor temperature, light intensity, and humidity and devices such as exhaust fans, grow lights, and pumps, increase productivity and ease management. Still, simple yet effective designs exist. Through trial and error, our team has identified a few small changes that could improve our prototype without additional costs or labor. At the moment, the large hole at the bottom of the bottle and the diagonal arrangement of the gardens does not promote efficient water use, which is a main concern in the current IES garden.
Opportunities: Our opportunities include a few adjustments to our design and the addition of an outreach program that was touched on at the end of the “strengths” section. First, the hole at the bottom is too large and will release valuable water that the plants need to flourish. The current size of the hole needs to be reduced. However, after speaking with the professor, a smaller hole is not enough on its own to save water. The professor’s experiments have led him to discover that even a hole made with a needle can lead to waste. Instead, we must combine this change in design with other improvements. Our team has brainstormed three. First, we could arrange the individual gardens to align in columns so that the water that drains out of the first garden in the sequence is then recycled and used by the second and so on. Plants that require more water and nutrients could be grown in containers at the bottom of a column to further aid water conservation. Second, an additional plastic bottle could be cut in half from the top to the bottom and be affixed directly under each container. This addition would capture and store excess water so that the plant could then use the water when needed. Essentially, it would act as a drainage saucer that is placed under most houseplants. Third, we could add an automatic watering system to ensure that only the amount of water needed by the plants is disbursed. While this will result in additional costs to the project initially, it would be more cost effective in the long run considering the amount of water it will save, the improved yield due to accurate watering, and the freeing up of labor that was previously devoted to spraying the plants. Also, there are plenty of inexpensive and “do it yourself” designs that just require some additional experimentation and patience. The outreach program would deal less exclusively with the vertical garden action and be designed to create a community of students who want to learn and share how to live more sustainable. That is a very open ended goal and we believe that to be a strength. What would start out as information on plant care, garden design, biodiversity, pollinators, and healthy eating could turn into anything the students wanted to explore. We would also strongly urge any group considering an action involving the IES garden to utilize the man who is in charge of overseeing it, Philippe. He is very knowledgeable and generous with his time and skills. A good place to start may be asking him what types of projects could help improve the existing garden.
Threats: We think our biggest threat is the inability to involve students and connect our vertical garden action to a paramount discussion about creating a more green and just society. As stated earlier, the ultimate goal of our project is to facilitate an environment where knowledge is created and shared. It is less about maximizing limited space, food production, or access to nutritional food options and more about promoting a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.
3.2. "Cradle to Cradle" design
- There are a few aspects of our design that encorporate the cradle to cradle design. First, our vertical garden is construced from reused plastic bottles, we took materials that would hvae otherwise been trash, and converted them into something reusable. The bottles house the soil and plants so that water can pass through. Next, the watering system also takes rain water from a collection basin that repurposes the water to be used as food for the plants.
- Create flyers to spread awareness about the garden. Have a welcome event for the IES summer or fall class that introduces them to the garden and IES's sustainable initiatives right off the bat.
- Incentives will be a key aspect of the success of our garden. We will need to motivate students to contribute to and use the garden. We will also need to incentivize IES to help fund and maintain the garden. To address students, we will incentivize them by providing them with an opportunity to get fresh fruits and vegetables through the contests and community luncheons. Furthermore, we will provide incentives for volunteers such as receiving public recognition for contributions to the garden. An extension of this incentive would be to work with IES to see if there would be an opportunity to create permanent roles of student ambassadors who would serve as sustainability managers each semester. These students could facilitate the process of teaching students about the garden and maintaining it. They could also serve as a liaison between the ongoing sustainability course of the semester and the community in order to help the class become more embedded in the IES center and more closely aligned with the needs, skills and desires of students. Beyond incentivizing students, we will need to request funding for supplies from the IES administration. By presenting this document to the administration and complementing it with an oral presentation, we will make a case for why we should have IES funds to sponsor our garden. By demonstrating the potential benefits of how IES can progress as an environmentally friendly institution, we will hopefully be able to persuade the administration and gain some initial funding. The community building aspect will be another incentive for the administration to contribute, given that IES is founded on the principle of community relationships.
3.5. Relationship wih the other initiatives being implemented
- The garden and irrigation system will be an effective and natural complement to the sustainable IES guide being distributed to students. As mentioned previously, the guide can directly promote the garden, while the garden will provide a direct way for students using the guide to get involved with the community and actually participate in a sustainable project. One way that we can enhance this collaboration effort with a long-term perspecitve in mind is to promote volunteer opportunities with the garden through the guide initiative. This would be an effective way to manage the challenges associated with a garden and irrigation system that is not inherently self-sufficient. If we could maintain student volunteers throughout the year, we would be able to ensure that the garden will not be neglected. We believe this would be effective because students who are using the guide actively are most likely to be the students who have an environmental interest. Therefore, we would target a group of students who are more likely to serve the community and volunteer, rather than sending out email blasts with no filters on who we are approaching and hoping to attract to the project. Secondly, the garden and irrigation system would be a community-building opportunity. By hosting a monthly lunch sponsored by IES and food from the garden, our project would allow IES to reach students on a personal level by showing they are here not only as a learning institution, but as a community that gives students the opportunity to grow personally and build lasting relationships. We believe these lunches would be highly attended due to the fact that many homestays do not provide lunch, and many students upon arrival in Barcelona are missing vegetables from home because they are not consuming as many as they used to. The fact that the lunch would be free for students would also be a bonus, especially as it gets warmer out and the spring semester comes to an end, as many students start to run out of money and are actively looking for ways to save it. Thus, the two main ways that our project will co-exist and complement with other initiatives are through the sustainable guide supporting it, and through serving as a platform for community-building.
3.6. How will this action be sustained when you are not here?
- We hope to engage some summer staff members who will be able to water the vertical garden while we are not there, and carry this into the fall.
3.7. Comparison to similar actions form previous semesters
- In previous semesters, groups have attempted to create vertical gardens in an effort to make a sustainable garden for all of IES to utilize. For example, students attempeted an "Herb Garden" to try and grow herbs native to this region which coincides with our plan to grow vegetables and herbs that would flourish in Barcelona's climate. In addition, our plan proposes a revamping of the current rain water collection system similar to the "Let It Flow "group from a previous semester. Our plan also included many aspects of past group projects aimed at a garden for IES for obvious reasons as we both planned to plant produce and herbs. These groups include: "Garden Implimentation,", Terrace Project", Organic Student Garden". The main reason many of these systems did not succeed was from a lack of maintenece when the students were not in IES, for example, in the summer months. We plan to combat this obstacle by using an automated drip irrigation system that times out water release so plants are water the perfect amount wasting no water in the process. This system would eliminate the need for human intervention thus making our vertical garden sustainable on its own.
4. Time-sheet / Chronogram (Prototype of Schedule)
4.1. Who will do what
- Casey: lead of prototype design
- Wilson and Will: leads of irrigation prototype/trial
- Keri: Aquaponics lead
- Rosie: General contributor, community aspect/relationship to other initiatives
- Lindsay: General contributer, editor, compiler
4.2. What has been done this semester?
- Created a prototype, attempted an irrigation prototype, created a failed vertical garden prototype, developed a marketing campaign, developed incentives to engage IES students in our plan.
4.3. What needs to be done to repeat the action in the future?
- As seen in the past, the garden outside has failed or had problems because no one kept an eye on it and the system wasnt fully sustainable. In order for the garden to be successful, there needs to be an IES staff memeber that can check up on the system from time to time. In a perfect world, our system would function in a way that required no maintenence.
5. Hydroponics Brief
5.1. What is it?
- Hyrdroponics is the process of growing plans in a soil-less medium that is an aquatic based. There are mineral nutrient solutions that are needed to feed the plants in water, without the use of soil. There are numerous tyrpes of plants that can be grown in a hydroponic garden, ranging from herbs such as thyme, sage and rosemary to vegetables like artichokes, beans and lettuces. Some of the benefits from having a hydroponic garden is that the growth rate is 30-50 perfect faster than plan plants grown in soil which increases the yield of what can be grown at one time. Hydroponic gardening is better for the environment becasue it uses considerably less water than soil gardens becasue of the constant stream of water in the garden.
5.2. Why it doesn't work for IES garden
- There are several reason for why a hydroponic garden would be found unsuccessful for this type of project. One of the reasons is becasue of the price it costs for the kind of equipment that is required. While there are various kinds of growing mediums you can use, the most costly part of a hydroponic garden is the nutrients that are required to put in the water. Since we are leaving for summer break and there will be significantly less people on campus, making sure the water pH and nutrients stay the correct levels are ciritical for having a successful garden. A slight imbalance of either of these could be detrimental to the plants and kill them.
5.3. How Hydroponics can be used for future students at IES
- Students in the future can make it possible to incorportate a hydroponics garden if there was a type of fundraiser they put together. Since this is such an expensive type of garden to build and maintain, I would suggest that there would be some type of information session that would inform investors or donors about the benefits that the garden would have for the IES community.
6. Document format
- Clara Davis, Noah Dean, Tess Dennison, Danny Getz, Alvaro Leon, Molly Weingord. "Courses: IES Vertical Garden." Sustainability (IES Abroad Barcelona). N.p., Apr. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Courses%3A_%3AIES+Vertical+Garden>.
- InAweofGod'sCreation. "51. Mums the Word." Flickr. Yahoo!, 09 Apr. 2009. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhoulihan/4092295845/in/photolist-7eC5YV-AStnEU-eafYAP-q5e33t-eamD8U-KFJtxP-rgzZmp-a4hntT-wBWFY-56gpjR-fxcVhA-odzMXc-5nQjMW-hhjEiE-wBXG9-f8pnrW-gpSA7A-6J1RYg-zuxwJn-kgLhVN-zcc2t8-JHdWWY-GLmsHA-myzz5-G9DFF4-bXdhNu-oqvNeu-pmsARJ-denv2h-aahbzY-ejBg7x-ejH4Af-cfcbQJ-ecKVjh-eFd9na-4PoGMi-p71VfC-dTAUqG-acQ8zX-otvv5K-nd67hF-ostP1F-o9eq5H-dTAVgu-poCtbC-qyg1md-ptBk5U-wBZfG-dTAWto-oip9y4>.
- Katy O’Hanlon, Shelby. "Organic Student Garden." Sustainability (IES Abroad Barcelona). N.p., Dec. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/item3602?from=Actions>.
- Keith, Jeremy. "Springtime." Flickr. Yahoo!, 29 May 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/14320247433/in/photolist-nPr1DP-9Zx6ii-pnVYQa-p9SCkb-4FiXfu-efA732-cRmoEb-rvcksZ-jdb3hH-5Ubgf-oA9SVv-diXt7h-ffa1Er-s8uGTB-c4Wwmo-gUm9Ye-kcRvL1-fomvKp-nhLLes-meHnPp-dPWHJY-CZha7R-nvP8KM-6yqkr3-cMrkYL-bhiZ2x-e8C6hp-8WXMqQ-aug7hg-eaAw1M-ekn15w-s4G7VA-eB1WLi-fQ8DYn-siZBQQ-eJY8mq-H2WX6U-dEjyQp-ALRscX-gZwca6-ayiRTP-iScgzn-dCooyR-roa46x-ekwLKN-dD6zhU-a89ttp-a89tNk-9gSTkq-s3p2aV>.
- Sarah McGahran, Justine Engel-Snow. "Terrace Project." Sustainability (IES Abroad Barcelona). N.p., Apr. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/item3612?from=Actions>.
- Travis Croom, Tyger Wen, Willian Rathman, Johana Guerra. "Let It Flow." Sustainability (IES Abroad Barcelona). N.p., Dec. 2014. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/item3627?from=Actions>.
- "Ultranatura Automatic Holiday Plant Irrigation System." Ultranatura_UK. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
8. Other References
9.1. Copyright license of your report
9.2. What did you learn and what did you incoporate from the feedback received?
9.4. Students involved in this action
- Lindsay Rickert, Rosa Hakim, Keri Gee, Wilson MacMillian, William Macfarlane, Casey Kuglar