IES Field Trip

1. Field Trip: Sustainable Farm Practices - Tessa Permut & Elisa Marszalek

1.1. What

Our concept for increasing sustainability at IES is through a day trip to an organic farm where students may tour the grounds, learn the practices, and participate in agricultural work on a WWOOF farm. WWOOF is an international network of organisations that links volunteers with organic farmers to help people share more sustainable ways of living.

1.1.1. Similar actions form previous semesters

Previous semesters of IES within the sustainability course have done a half-day trip to a squat farm and a WWOOFing day of service through the sustainability club . Our action plan differs from prior actions in that it opens the field trip to all IES students, making the opportunity available to a much wider population and makes the field trip an IES rather than sustainability club field trip- therefore, if it is popular, it will not rely on participation in the sustainability club to be sustained but will rather become part of the IES field trip repetoire.

1.1.2. SWOT Analysis

A day’s field trip to an organic farm will provide a day trip for IES students which will be about more than laying on beach. It will supply students with the knowledge of how organic farming works and students will get to experience how it feels to literally see the results of a day's work. It will teach students how organics are an improvement over regular farming practices. No matter what the long term effect of the visit, knowledge of sustainability is being passed from the farmers to students, strengthening the relationship between IES and a local organization (Camp de la Sort). Also, though it may only interest a small group of students, those students who do participate will be so greatly affected (judging by past actions by the sustainability club for the WWOOFer day of service) that it will be well worth the forseeable weakness of interesting a select group of students.

Because the field strip is optional, it is possible that only students who are already interested in sustainability will sign up.

Because this action is affecting knowledge rather than making a single behavior more sustainable, it has the potential to affect all future food choices of the participants by changing their purchasing habits. Additionally, it has the potential to spread to others whom the knowledge of the experience is imparted upon.

Since this action relies about the students’ absorption of knowledge, it is threatened by students simply forgetting what they have learned, especially upon return to their usual environment (The United States). Also, it is impossible to gauge interest in the field trip for the next semester of IES students since we only have access to survey results from this semester, so if the interest is low there is a possibility IES will not sustain the field trip for following semesters.

1.1.3. Feedback loops

Our sustainable action causes a balancing loop as evidenced by the steps below.

1. Original node: non-sustainable diet practices and food purchases of IES students
2. IES students go on an optional field trip to an organic/sustainable farm outside Barcelona.
3. There is an increase in knowledge of sustainable food practices and understanding for the practice of small-scale agriculture/buying local.
4. With the knowledge increase within a single student, his/her purchases of non-sustainable and large agri-business produced food goes down.
5. This single student, in turn, spreads the knowledge to others in his/her life, and a larger portion of non-sustainable and large agri-business produced food goes down.
6. Delay: knowledge spreads to others
7. Purchasing habits of others are altered
8. Decrease in profits for large agribusiness with unsustainable practice

1.1.4. Advertising

A summary of the field trip can be provided beside the other field trips in the upcoming student planners by IES faculty. Additionally, posters about the field trip can be posted throughout IES as a reminder. An example of the flier is found below, IES faculty will have to edit the flier following determination of the best date of the field trip for them.
We also have designed a full field trip itinerary using the same rubric as other IES day trips which may be provided for inquiring students.

1.2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

This action is improving the sustainability of IES abroad by imparting direct knowledge onto the students via hands on experience at an organic farm. It has the potential to change their perspective on food, organics, and sustainability by seeing and participating in it all first-hand. It is intended to change the attitudes and behaviors of IES students.
If successful, and IES students do, in fact, use the knowledge gained from the field trip to change their own food purchasing habits to be more local and sustainable organic, then ecological footprints of IES student participants will be reduced. Because the students learning the merits of purchasing food from smaller, local, and/or organic farms, and adjusting their purchasing habits accordingly results in less money to large, agri-businesses that use unsustainable and wasteful practices. Furthermore, if students impart this knowledge onto others, this action plan has the potential to reduce the ecological footprints of many beyond IES.
The field trip to a farm also allows students to conceptualize the LOIS model through physical service. The farm is run by a family rather than an agri-business, their food is sold directly by them or in farmers' markets, and the action itself promotes community involvement (students and farmers working together).

1.2.1. Potential Benefits

  • Change in Attitudes
  • Long term effects
  • Ecological/Water footprints
  • LOIS

(see above for thorough explanation)

1.2.2. Potential Costs

Unfortunately, one of the costs is that of the transportation to and from the farm, which will range from 5-15 euros per person (by train). The primary cost of this project is time of IES faculty (as someone must chaperone) and students, as students must weigh the incentive of participation against the cost of using a day from a weekend they may want to do some trip elsewhere.

1.3. How

The trip itself is quite simple after having received approval by Camp de la Sort. All that must be done is meeting at the RENFE Train station at "Barcelona-Sants" and buying "Rodalies - Cercanias" destination tickets to the farm, then the action will take place and the students will get a chance to work on the farm and eat a vegetarian lunch. The difficulty in implementation is the reliance on action by IES faculty to promote the field trip. It is my hope that the incentives mentioned will create interest and result in a good size group wanting to go so that IES faculty is motivated to take the necessary steps when we are not here next semester (posting the fliers and chaperoning the trip).

1.3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

Our action is cradle to cradle in that the fliers we post will be a minimal amount (only on the bulletin boards) and will be printed on the back of recycled paper of past bulletin board posts that IES was planning to discard anyway. The transportation is public but not a bus (train), therefore it uses little natural resources, making it the most sustainable transport possible for such a great distances. The food eaten on the farm is the best example of our project's support of cradle to cradle design because it is produced organically and using sustainable agricultural methods. Also, the meal will be vegan/vegetarian, meaning that as little water and land was wasted to produce the meal as possible-since raising animals for food (including land used for grazing and land used to grow feed crops) uses a staggering 30 percent of the Earth's land mass.

1.3.2. Question for the Unified Survey

If given the opportunity, would you participate in a day trip to a sustainable farm (yes, no, maybe)?
How interested are you in organic food/organic lifestyles? (1-10)
Would you be interested in a field trip to the south of Spain that involves working with organic produce? (yes, no, maybe)

1.3.3. Results from the Unified Survey

A majority (57%.14) of students from this semester said they would be interested in going on a day trip to a sustainable farm. If similar results are true for the entire IES population, the weakness of attracting a very small number of students may actually not be as significant as expected. Additionally, 71.4% of respondants said they were either interested or very interested in organic food and organic lifestyles, suggesting that perhaps the educational aspect of the field trip should be emphasized to peak interest.

1.3.4. Incentives

Students are afforded the opportunity to see a different part of Spain to the south of Barcelona . Camp de la Sort is a WWOOFing farm and therefore opens students up to the organization. If they enjoy the experience, they can join WWOOF and perhaps go back to Camp de la Sort or to another farm following the conclusion of IES. Students are also able to see the results of their labor in the tangible form of produce, which they are then able to take back to their residence in Barcelona. Furthermore, the staff at Camp de la Sort only speak Catalan and Spanish, providing students with an excellent opportunity to practice their language skills. This day trip is also more affordable than other day trips provided by IES. How will this action be sustained when you are not here?

Once implemented, the action is easily sustainable when we are not here as it will simply become part of the IES field trip repertoire, if popular enough. IES staff simply needs to post the flier we have already created for the field trip at the beginning of next semester and insert it into the planner. The only difficulty in sustaining the action is IES must find a faculty member who is willing to chaperone the field trip (we would have done this, but IES also must determine the dates of the WWOOF field trip so it does not conflict with other IES trips and securing a chaperone before knowing the date he/she must be available is impossible).

1.3.5. Who will do what

Before the beginning of the semester: IES faculty should choose an exact date that is best for them to chaperone the field trip (and avoid conflicts with other IES trips) and put the fliers we have designed with information about the field trip into the planners.

Beginning of next semester (January): Planners with advertisement of the day trip should be given out in the first week. Fliers should also be posted (only on bulletin boards, to reduce waste) in order to indicate to students that the day trip is an option so that they may reserve the day before booking other trips.

March/April: Optional field trip will be taken. The RENFE Train departs from Barcelona-Sants train station and will take the group to the "El Vendrell" stop. This is much more sustainable than a bus and also less costly to students. From the El Vendrell stop

1.3.6. Comparison to similar actions form previous semesters

Previous semesters did a "day of service", however, they required participation in the sustainability club and/or internalized costs by making the action a "class field trip". Our action is meant to impart knowledge to and provide a different experience for those who perhaps might not have signed up for either the sustainability club or class-as it is likely these are the students that may have the least knowledge of sustainability and would benefit most/be most affected. Though this means the cost will be externalized to students, the cost if the field trip is so minimal (only the train fare) that it seems worth it to reach the greater IES population.

Attribution BY-SA: I believe this would be the best CC license for this action plan because it permits others to copy, distribute,
and modify with the requirement that I am given credit for the work and that they also allow others to share.
I want this action plan to inspire and inform the efforts of future IES students-especially those that will be at IES during the semester when it is implemented and I believe the BY-SA license will be best in doing so and furthering a future of IES sustainable farming trips.

1.4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

Tessa: I emailed IES administration (César) about how to implement a day field trip. Without a response, I resent the email. Still having received no response, I emailed
Olga who then emailed César, but no response had been received. I finally met with Cesar on November 9th and talked about how to implement the field trip. He gave me a run-down of what he will need to implement the field trip.

I emailed several farms including Mother's Garden organic farm in Priorat and CEL. .I created the action plan and the flier which will advertise the field trip.

Finally, I got into contact with Camp de la Sort (in Spanish) as suggested by professor de Pedro. They were very accomodating and therefore will be the farm that the field trip will take place.

Elisa: I also contacted César and Mother´s Garden, still waiting on a response and created the field trip itinerary.

Madden, Jacob. “WWOOF your way around the world”. CNN: June 16, 2010.

Coppard, Sue. “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms “. 2006.

Norse, David. Agriculture and the Environment: Changing Pressures, Solutions and Trade-offs. In Bruinsma, J. (ed.) World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030 - An FAO Perspective: 331-356 Earthscan, London. (2003).


1.6. Annexes

Sustainability Action Plan Email copies.pdf
Emails to other farms have not been attached as they had "contact us" forms on their websites.

1.7. Students involved in this action

Tessa & Elisa- see precise actions above (under time sheet)

Page last modified on Wednesday 04 of April, 2012 17:13:35