Courses / IES Vertical Garden

1. Summary & Keywords

“Executive Summary”: This project was made to create a "self-sustaining" vertical garden in the IES terrace. It can be created in a short time span using recycled materials with very low cost. A flyer is placed in IES to make students aware of the garden and the free herbs it has to offer students. This idea was adapted from a DIY segment from 3alacarta.

Keywords: garden, herbs, plants, terrace, water

2. What is the action

To implement a sustainable vertical garden in the IES Terrace. It ideally won't need any maintenance and use only rainwater and sunlight to grow three herbs: cilantro, spearmint, and oregano, which will all be available for the IES community to access.

2.1. Similar actions to previous semesters

  • similar to Herb Garden if we grow plants that are native to the Mediterranean biome
  • similar to the Let it Flow group, we will use their rainwater collector as a way to water the plants. We will have to update it some since parts are not usable anymore
  • similar to Garden Implementation because we will also have a garden
  • similar to Terrace Project because they also wanted to grow plants that would easily thrive in this climate in order to ensure the organic growing
  • similar to Organic Student Garden because we want to have an organic garden that will be aesthetically pleasing and hopefully produce some snacks
  • similar to Barcelona Composting IES if we want to use compost to help grow the plants
  • similar to Rainwater Collection because that was the group that created the rainwater collection device that we want to use as part of our project

2.2. Why this or a similar action didn’t succeed in previous semesters

Although our design is new in form yet attempting a similar function/concept, we are not assured success in sustainability. Other groups in semesters prior to ours have attempted similar trials and failed. After discussing with Professor Xavier what had led to said failure, we believe it comes down to allocating watering responsibilities. A trial last spring proved to be unsuccessful because the students may have miscalculated the attention their plants would need over the summer. With summer temperatures often very high/dry with scarce rainfall, it is important that our plants are checked frequently. In order to keep or plants/project active and healthy over the summer, we have discussed a few solutions. They are as follows:
1. Contact director of IES/ maintenance in the building and ask for assistance of weekly watering of our plants
> Their incentive may be the use of the plants - example: mint leaves for tea.
2. Connect a self-watering system which is connected to a hose and self-regulates water output.
> This appears to the be best option - we would need to purchase this device that cost approximately 60 euros. The mechanism is connected to a fosset and then set on a timer in which the machine release water over the selected amount of time.
> This link shows an example of the mechanism: Programador de grifo AQUAUNO SELECT
3. Purchase water-pod inserts to be refilled monthly.
> An example of this would be an Aqua Globe - this goes for approx. $9.
4. Grow plants that are useful but require less water - Aloe Vera.

2.3. SWOT Analysis

-Takes advantage of rainwater
-Plants use carbon dioxide
-Reusing plastic bottles prevents them from going into a landfill
-Aesthetically pleasing

-Relies on variable weather- there might be too much or not enough rain
-Small scale, the waterbottles can only fit a few herbs in them

-provides herbs for future IES students
-inspiration for other Veritcal Gardens

-Bad weather could destroy it
-Not enough rainfall could kill the plants
-Too much rainfall could flood the plants and kill them
-Someone might dispose of system if they don't realize what it is

The weather is variable and thus we have no control over it so this is a weakness of this project that we can not overcome. There is no way that we could redesign our project to use rainwater and make it avoid this weakness. The only way to avoid this weakness is to have the model not use rainwater which would make it less sustainable. To avoid the threats we listed, we placed our model in a spot that will not face the harsh effects of inclement weather.

2.4. Feedback loops

By definition Feedback occurs when the outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop, the system can then be said to feed back into itself. With this being said, it mirrors how conduction of our project flow; The way feedback loops are exemplified in our project start at the most central part of it the actual upside-down garden. The creation of this contraption was not done on the first try, so as a team we tried to build it the first time, while encountering issues upon the finished product which served as natural feedback in regards to our garden. We took the output of that particular system and put it back into the project to build the garden not only again but include that in parts of our SWOT analysis. The effect of inefficacies in our garden were used as an input to further enhance other areas of the project from the building stage to various other stages that we encountered. Other areas that we encountered feedback loops and used them to our advantage was the actual creation of the flyer and implementation of garden(not building of). The outputs of the implementation feed back let us reinforce this loop by altering implementation strategies to further enhance sustainability of this garden. Feedback loop in regards to our flyer allowed us to form a more cohesive and comprehensive flier that will optimally induce awareness and enthusiasm.

2.5. Advertising

This project will be advertised using a flyer on the doors to the IES terrace.

(See the section on the flyer below.)

3. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

This action makes many things more sustainable. We reused plastic water bottles, so now they won't end up in a landfill any time soon. We used soil that was already at IES, so we're using what was already available, instead of buying more. The plants are also sustainable, because they will be available to be used by the students and teachers at IES and they won't have to go buy herbs that may have been grown in an unorganic way. This action is sustainable itself because if properly taken care of, it will be able to produce herbs for many seasons to come and will encourage more vertical gardens to be implemented.

It's also sustainable because it willl make people aware that often times, clean drinkable water is used unnecessarily to water plants. If these herbs are presented the proper climate or if they don't need that much water, reusing rainwater is a good alternative to water the plants. Another reason this action is sustainable is because of it cradle-to-cradle design. After drinking from plastic water bottles, if the bottles are not properly recycled, it will essentially go to its "grave," but with our design, the water bottle will be reborn into its new "cradle," or the Verticle Garden. It's also sustainable becaause it will cause an attitude change for others. They will realize how simple and cheap it is to grow their own herbs and it will inspire others to create the same action.

3.1. Potential Costs

In terms of time, it will take two people two hours to make a functioning model, including the time to buy the seeds. Additionally, it will take one person about two hours to make a flyer for our project.

Monetarily speaking, this project will cost under 5€ which will be funded internally by the group. This money will be used to purchase seeds at Corte Ingles. Since IES already has the soil and we will be reusing plastic bottles there will be no cost for these items.

4. How will you implement it?

After researching methods and concepts of sustainable gardening, we stumbled upon a rather simple yet affective design. The design appeared to be compact, straight-forward, and included what some may see as upscale-recycling. The steps toward implementation on a small scale within IES were not particularly complex. They included constructing the concept from bottles, paperclips, and soil/seeds, then advertising our idea via flyers - both electronic and of paper.
Implementation on a larger scale would include a greater amount of attention and expenses. On a larger scale you may also have the opportunity to play with the design of the structure - and potentially using different materials. Our imagination leads us to believe that the layering system of our design can be replicated in an efficient way in a larger scale. However, a greater amount of plants calls for a greater devotion and care-taking.
Semesters before us have both succeeded and failed at similar concepts. Please refer to section 2.2 to learn how we plan to have our system function following our return to the United States.
Similar Past Projects:
Let it Flow
Terrace Garden
Rain Water Collection

4.1. Prototype (or Proof of Concept)

We created a working model for our project. This model is made out of plastic bottles team member's had saved thoughout the semester. Additionally, we just use a few paperclips and soil that were at the IES center. The only thing we had to purchase were the seeds to plant in the soil, we bought them from Corte Ingles.

Since this model is self-sustaining, it will be able to be used for years to come. If the bottles wear out the herbs will be able to be transplanted into another pot at the IES center and continue to grow. At this point, the rest of the materials used to make the model can be recycled.

4.2. ”Cradle to Cradle” design

Our design has been made with cradle-to-cradle in mind. Since the unused water (waste) is collected in the water collector on the bottom of the model it can be put back into the top of the model to water the plants again. As you can see, this is a cyclical process that will keep the plants watered naturally and will not take addition water. On top of this, all resourcse made and used in the system are able to be reused within the system.

4.3. Flyer

We created a flyer to advertise our vertical garden. The flyer can be printed but it is digital as well to make it more sustainable. It gives information so that students know they can pick the herbs, and it shows a photo so they can identify it.

4.4. Incentives

The incentives for using our model are that users will have the oportunity to have free herbs for their use. We just ask that when taking the herbs they water the plant with the water collected in the water collector on the bottom and do not take so much that the plant will die.

4.5. Relationship with Other initiatives being implemented

Our vertical garden is similar to the Recycling Products initiative because we are both recycling items— we gave the plastic bottles used in our garden another life, and also we are recycling nutrients from the bottom bottle back in order to water the top bottle. The other group is recycling items back to other IES students. Our project is also similar to the Local Vore project because if students are interested in eating locally, then they will be very enthusiastic about having herbs they can use right on the IES terrace.

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

When we are not here this system will be sustained by the next group of IES students. This will happen because a flyer will be posted making students aware that they can use the herbs if they will "rewater" the plant which will keep it alive and able to be used for many more semesters.

4.7. Comparison to similar actions from previous semesters

Our project is similar to the City Beach Cleanup because it also promotes not littering by using the old bottles in a garden instead. Both of our groups are making the city cleaner, but in different ways. Our action is also similar to the Reusable Water Bottles + Recycling Bin Decoder because it encourages the recycling of water bottles instead of putting them in the trash or littering. Our project is also similar to Let it Flow from the Fall of 2014 because we both planned to use rainwater in order to sustain our plants. Ours is different however with the use of the water bottles to hold the plants because the top plant ends up watering the next plant and so on, whereas they just used one catchment system.

5. Time-sheet / Chronogram

The time allocated to each task will vary dependent upon attentiveness, efficiency and general preparedness. There needs to be about an hour allocated to the collection of materials to physically build vertical garden, then there should be about 30-50min in time allocated to actual construction and implementation of structure. The rest of the should take about two weeks with in daily editing of 1 hour to service all necessary sections of the project. All of which will need team collaboration in order to yield a fully cohesive project. From the swot analysis to flyer and all the way to the bibliography

5.1. Who will do what

There needs to an allocation of people to certain tasks then collective collaboration on most of this project. The gathering of the Materials can be done by one person in our case was Noah, a team to assemble that (Noah, Dan, Molly) and then the rest of the project is done collaboratively- producing all sections together in order to achieve highest level of team work, efficiency and production

5.2. What has been done this semester?

We created a prototype and put it up in the IES terrance on March 30, 2016:

An update on growth on April 12,2016:

5.3. What needs to be done to repeat the action in the future?

As long as there is not inclement weather that would destroy the Vertical Garden, not much else would have to change. As long as it is getting enough sunlight and it rains enough, it should be successful, and be able to be repeated following the same procedure.

6. Document format

The flyer was created with Photoshop into order to manipulate the text and create the graphics. Anyone with a Creative Cloud account can edit it, and anyone that can recieve PDFs can open it.

7. Bibliography

City Beach Cleanup. Fall 2015. Kevin O'Connor, Ben Laderberg, Justin Andrews.

Let it Flow. Fall 2014. Travis Croom, Tyger Wen, Willian Rathman, Johana Guerra

Rain Water Collection. Fall 2015. Christina, Michael, Gina.

Reusable Water Bottle and Recycling Bin Decoder. Fall 2014. Lizzy Cingari, Zhana Welch, Peter Barnaby, Defne Gun, Sophia Potepalov.

Terrace Garden. Fall 2014. Michael Trejo, Christina Williams, Tyler Ben-Amotz.

8. References

Classe Particular: Hort vertical. (Motion picture on Barcelona Public Television). (2016). Spain: 3alacarta.

9. Annexes

Unless elsewhere noted, the contents of this report are released with a Attribution 4.0 International copyright license

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

From the feedback we received, we completely pivoted our project from adding a solar panel to the IES roof to the Vertical Garden idea. Initially when we proposed the idea to Professor Xavier, he advised us to look more into costs since in previous years IES had only offered to cover half the cost and he said that this project might not be feasible in the time we had. From there, we proposed fixing the rainwater catchment system to water more plants. Professor Xavier showed us a video on a Vertical Garden, and we decided to go that route based on his suggestions that it would be feasible and very sustainable for years to come.

9.3. Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Professor Xavier de Pedro for inspiring us with this idea as well as supporting us along the way. We also could not have completed this project without the funding graciously provided by IES Abroad. Also thank you to Rafel Martinez from Cooperative Tarpuna for making the information on how to create this vertical garden an open source. Our last acknowledgment goes to the IES Abroad students before us who dedicated their time to similar sustainable and eco friendly projects.

9.4. Students involved in this action

Clara Davis
Noah Dean
Tess Dennison
Danny Getz
Alvaro Leon
Molly Weingord

Feedback from your class mates through the Peer-Review Assignment
Items found: 11
ReviewerThings to keepThings to improve
adl2017I think it was good that you guys were flexible to change your idea in order to put your energy into a feasible project. I like the idea of planting something that would provide an incentive for an IES employee to water and check on the project throughout the summer.How did you guys decide which type of plant to use? Also, it is not very clear which plant it is (I might have missed it). Is there a way to make the vertical garden more stable?
bouquetcAll of your pictures are great and help illustrate your project and its goals, and your SWOT analysis is very good and straightforward. I think that it is great that you actually implemented some of your project ideas, and it seems to be a very realistic project to be sustained in future semesters, and your wiki looks great so far.A visual illustration or picture of a feedback loop would make your wiki page look just a little bit more convincing, but overall your project looks really good. I think you could also add to the "Cradle-to-Cradle" section, since that is such a large part of your project.
carlyebeyerThe table of contents and how the hyperlinks just jump to that section is really great and makes all the information very readily accessible.I also think your garden is very sustainable and I think it is great that the flyer says if you use it, to water the top plant, so that you get more people to take care of the garden.Will the garden be fine over the summer or over breaks when there are not people here to check on it? I know it is supposed to be self-sustaining and future students are supposed to take care and water it, but in case something happens to it, does there need to be someone in IES responsible for checking on it, making sure it is ok if the weather is bad, or replacing the seeds if needed?
cegriffith@smu.eduThe self-watering system used in the vertical garden is nice, as it's low-maintenence and self-sustaining nature allows it to continue without too much effort on the part of other students in the program.While it is very sustainable, in the future, students might want to look into making the engineering of the project more resilient as the design appears to be somewhat fragile, and as such, not very resistant to inclement weather.
clossghThis is a really cool concept and is one that is much more sustainable in that it reduces the amount of space needed for the garden. I would like to see the finished product at the end.Try to see if someone can keep the vertical garden going or even expand on it for the future, it would not be worth it if there was really no use out of the garden after the semester is over and no one keeps up with it.
erikchazinThe filtration of water through the Vertical Garden system is pretty brilliant. Something that you should definitely keep is the formation of a very simple structure that is the Vertical Garden. This artifact is very easy to recreate, and promotes easy sustainable practices by being available to virtually all people. The visual of the flyer is very helpful and gives a great visual representation as to what will be included in the model prototype. Some things to improve would be adjusting the prototype model to be able to sustain all types of weather, all amounts of sun, water, and rain. If the weather patterns were different every month, season, or year, then the product would maybe need to be adjusted. It is possible that more advertising would be needed in order to show the project to all IES students other than just posting the flyer on the IES doors. In order to spread awareness that most students can access, consider using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. think about adding a visual Feedback Loop for the project so that consumers and students can see who and how this project is affecting.
ggiacoThe idea is very sustainable as you mentioned the potential cost will be around 5 euros for your prototype, which I think is a very practical idea which can also work. Your location of placing it on the IES terrance is great because it will provide others with an incentive to possibly build their own in different areas around Barcelona, and future sustainability students may even take this idea and improve upon it. Your idea to place it on the IES terrance is also great because it allows those involved with or interested in getting involved with the localvore idea to use your herbs from your vertical garden, a great idea that incorporates two projects.Improve upon your prototype, as the foundational idea is good but the plastic bottle is primitive and will not last long enough to even possibly improve upon because there is only a finite amount of times that you will be able to use the bottles. How are you going to get this idea to be implemented over a larger area? Or are you simply planning to use this action to benefit the IES community? Your idea that other students will take advantage of your project may not necessarily be true because no one is here to explain what it is, and they may even unintentionally destroy it. You also obviously have a problem with the weather that needs to be assessed because you cannot control how effective it is because the weather is unpredictable.
jpantelidesAdding the pictures to your project really helped me visualize your action much better. It's very cool that you guys created a real prototype of your action and have in out on the IES terrace for people to see. I like how you compared your project to those of previous semesters, and specifically laid out how it is both similar and different. Creating both a digital and printable version of the flyer in order to make it more sustainable is also a great idea. Though you descriptions under each heading were short and to the point, I think it may be beneficial to add more detail and description to each of them. In regards to making your vertical garden more sustainable during bad weather, is there a way to use material that's more sturdy than plastic? Are there more places you can place the printable version of your flyer other an on the doors of the terrace? Maybe you can talk to the IES staff and ask them to advertise your action using their mass email system.
kurinaI love the idea because it gives us the idea that these gardens are grown right in the very backyard of IES. This gives us a very strong sense of contributing to a sustainable environment. The idea of a vertical garden is very innovative and has a lot of potential because once the right structures are built to support the gardens then there is room for a very large amount of agriculture to grow vertically in a very small amount of space on the floor. I like that students can participate in not only buying and eating what is grown there, ut they can also give back and plant something on their own. This can really emphasize the cradle to cradle ideology, that when someone takes a vegetable, then they should in-turn reliant that vegetable.One thing I would aim to focus on is to grow plants that many people would use, which I am not sure what would be good to recommend. I personally live in a homestay and wouldn't use oregano, spearmint, or any seasonings like that, but if there were jalapeños, green peppers, tomatoes, or any kind of vegetables growing then I would definitely be interested in buying some of them. Great Idea, but I would just make it more tailored to what people would want out of the garden
mbrown12This is a very intriguing concept. Definitely keep the prototype pictures and maybe the in depth descriptions of past projects that are similar in concept. It is good to be able to compare this project to past ones to see where past projects went wrong and how you are using others' ideas to create the most sustainable system as possible (crade-to-crade in thought process). The flyer is very impressive and eye catching. The pictures of the current prototype is also good and proves how successful this system can be. Maybe try to think of better incentives to reach a broader audience. Also throughout the page, maybe go into more detail. All of the responses seem very short in length. It would be more beneficial to go into greater depth for further understanding of future students to take advantage of. Also, for the timesheet/chronogram instead of having a list of directions, a table or chart would be more user-friendly.
natyuI like that you have visions for how this action can be sustained. It is well thought out what you need and how you can sustain it. You are able to use very simple material to upcycle while the it does not require to much to maintain it makes it a very sustainable action.It can be elaborated more why this action is important and it is worth implementing. I can see that it would be a nice addition to the IES program, but who is the beneficiary? How is this better than a potted plants, and in what way? What is the incentive for students to maintain it? A suggestion would be to use the herbs in IES for students to make tea.

Page last modified on Wednesday 13 of April, 2016 17:00:02