Sarah McGahran Justine Engel-Snow Action Plan

1. Terrace Project

Sarah McGahran and Justine Engel-Snow
Spring 2012

1.1. What

We were initially going to plant produce as well as flowers, however, after further looking into the difficulties (as displayed by previous semesters of growing vegetables and insuring that they are raised organically, we decided to grow only perrenial flowers. We received a suggestion to contact Garden Arenas" a LOIS business located outside of Barcelona that could help us with selecting the right flowers for the climate and our planting time. Unfortunately, we did not receive any response from her so we did our own research and selected flowers (lavender and carnations), herbs (parsley), and arugula that were acclimated to the climate of Barcelona. Arugula is very sustainable and seeds itself, so this was an ideal choice. We made our seed choices based on advice from a contact we had in the United States who is a gardener for a school. Becuase of privacy concerns we are not disclosing the name of that particular gardener, but seeing the progress our plants have made in 2 weeks, we highly recommend using the same plants we did. We very simply found the seeds for the plants we identified as being well suited for the climate by going to La Rambla dels Flores and selecting seeds from a vendor there.

Since we decided it would not be practical to plant produce, we made an attempt to give IES students access to affordable organic produce from elsewhere. We spoke to WOKI Organic Market, located a block from IES at Ronda Universitat, 20 with the intent to get some kind of discount on their certified organic goods. From their website (www.wokimarket.com), we learned that they are a local business that has four locations in the different barrios of Barcelona.They sell only certified organic food. Again, after our initial conversation with the manager, we never heard back from them so this phase of the project was not completed.

The last phase of our project was to incorporate the cradle to cradle approach and upcycling into the decorations of the terrace. We used plastic and glass bottles as planters rather than buying all brand new planter as well as used empty pots on the terrace. Also the plants will be watered when needed using the rain collector made in a previous semester, thus reducing water consumption. We researched ways to use different types of bottles and other recyclables for planters and found several good options.

Our next step was to calculate the budget for our plan which turned out to be very minimal, only the low cost of the seeds for our plants. We remedied the potential problem of any type of initial investment from students by contacting Alex Walker and getting a budget of 10 euros approved for the terrace project for future semesters.

To our surprise, Professor Xavi took an interest in our project and gave us several more potted plants that he was growing on his terrace to add to our collection and provide a more initially visible garden. The additions include: pumpkin, more parsley, common mediar, garden nasturtium, and daffodils. You can see the finished garden pictured below.

1.1.1. Similar actions form previous semesters

Several groups of people have tried to plant produce and flowers on the terrace in the past and some actions have been implemented. There were several issues, however, in previous implementation: we learned from past attempts that growing produce is probably not the most feasible, so we looked elsewhere to fulfill that need. We also saw that because of time constraints and planting seasons we had to start our project early in the semester. We eliminated any future financial burden by setting up a 10 euro terrace budget. We also were able to use the rain collector made in a past semester for our watering needs. Furthermore, past groups struggled with the maintenance of the terrace after they left IES, thus we planted arugula so that it will reseed itself in and remain in the future.

1.1.2. SWOT Analysis


  • Simple maintenance to insure use in future semesters
  • Provides an aesthetically pleasing outdoor space for IES students to engage in their environment
  • Upcycles bottles to be used for planters
  • Recycles rainwater to use to water plants

  • WOKI market does not get all of its goods locally
  • Relying outside providers for plants and food is costly in terms of time delays
  • Language barrier put a limit on who we could work with in terms of LOIS companies for plants and food

  • To create a functional outdoor space for IES students
  • Provide a discount to encourage buying organic products from a local company

  • Poor weather can harm the flowers we planted
  • The plants may not be acclimated to the climate/environment
  • No one is in place to water the plants over the summer/ in future semesters

1.1.3. Feedback loops

plant flowers and edible herbs on the terrace->students see the relationship of hand to mouth planting and consuming of food->students are more concious of relationship to the environment as a food source->plant more flowers and edible plants on the terrace and elsewhere

1.1.4. Advertising

After the additions of plants and planters to the terrace, made flyers and hung them around IES that attract people to come check out the improved terrace.

1.2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

  • IES students and falculty will be more inclined to spend more time outside engaging in the environment
  • There is no dependency on outside water sources because of the use of the rain collector, so the is no ecological/water footprint
  • Externalization of costs
  • Has the potential to bring long term benefit to IES because of the simple maintenance of the perrenial flowers
  • Feedback loops (balancing / reinforcing, lagged or not)
  • We used a SLEN business to provide our plants, thus ensuring less transport costs to the environment as well as helping the economy of the local community
  • Able to enfore the practice of "Cradle to Cradle" by making planters our of bottles

1.2.1. Potential Benefits

The terrace project provides an accesible and natural place for IES students to spend time outdoors. It also uses recylclable objects from the homes of IES students to beautify this outdoor space. Furthermore, it is a good example of how rainwater can be reused for agricultural purposes thus eliminating the use of the often scarce resource of water. Finally, it has potential to change the mentality of IES students and make them more aware of the significance of our environment in everyday food production.

1.2.2. Potential Costs

The project itself was a bit time consuming because of the lack of response from our outside contacts, however, the continuation of the project should be simple. A final cost could be that if there is a drought, the rainwater basin would no longer be effective in watering the flowers and outside water would have to be used.

1.3. How

1.3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

Plants require carbon dioxide, which is part of their respiration, but also removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, to a small extent. We have bought several seeds packets, but do not need all the seeds in each packet, so we will be sending the remainder of the seeds, along with their wrappers, to another gardner who works at a school where all paper is composted. We are using water and the terrace already has a catchment system from students from a previous semester. Any plants that we harvest or pruning and weeding that we do will be composted for the nitrogen content. We have collected glass bottles from recycling to use as planters. The other potting materials we are using are all second hand, either pots we found that were not in use (probably from previous semesters) or from Professor DePedro. We are getting advice from a community garder in the Born area for possible sources for local fertilizer and compost.

1.3.2. Questions for the unified survey

1. Would you be interested in buying inexpensive produce at IES if it were made available once a week?
2. Would you be more inclined to use the IES patio if it was more landscaped?
3. Would you be willing to help maintain the patio space (ie water flowers, weed, etc.)?
4. Do you think that growing flowers and herbs on the patio is more feasible than attempting to grow vegetables?

1.3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey

Due to technical difficulties we did not receive the results of our survey.

1.3.4. Incentives

Participants will have an experience that contributes to community health through the promotion of nutritious, locally grown foods. The project offers a communal experience and everyone in IES is welcome to enjoy the products as well as the improved environment on the terrace.

1.3.5. Relationship with the "Sustainability Club" (SC)

If there is a sustainability club in future semesters, it would be their responsibility to manage the terrace budget as well as delegate someone to water the plants when necessary.

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

These plants are all annuals, but one of them, the arugula, has the potential to reseed itself. We're leaving instructions for the next group of IES students, along with the terrace budget, in the hopes that they will continue our project.

1.3.7. Who will do what

We planted the seeds that we have purchased and hopefully IES refunds us. In the case that the manager from the Organic Woki restaurant decides to participate in our project, he will act as the link between the business and IES.

1.3.8. Comparison to similar actions form previous semesters

We have chosen some plants that have been planted during previous semesters, such as parsley and lavendar, and some that have not, such as arugula and carnation flowers. We are taking advice from previous students about when and where to plant certain herbs. We have also looked into the potential benefits stated by the previous classes, such as water trapping and carbon fixation.

1.3.9. Document format

The flyer posted below was created in MS Word, but is posted as open office so that future semesters can use and change it at no cost.

1.4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

January- Establish project idea, contact Woki Market and Alex Walker/ sustainability club to access budget
February- Decide what seeds/ plants you will use, collect recyclables for plantes, make any kind of recycled decorations to be included in project
March- Plant plants and set up decorations, familiarize yourself with rain collector
April- Write up process and advice for future semesters


1.6. Annexes

flyer for esso.docxterrace project flyer 2.sxw

1.7. Students involved in this action

Sarah McGahran
Justine Engel-Snow

Page last modified on Sunday 15 of April, 2012 15:46:14