Table of contents
- 1. Summary & Keywords
- 2. What is the action
- 3. Why this action makes things more sustainable?
- 4. How will you implement it?
- 5. Time-sheet / Chronogram
- 6. Document format
- 7. Bibliography
- 8. References
- 9. Annexes
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
-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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Classe Particular: Hort vertical. (Motion picture on Barcelona Public Television). (2016). Spain: 3alacarta.
9.1. Copyright license of your report
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.
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