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Volunteering opportunity at a local, sustainable farm- Shelby, Mary Grace

1. What

Our action to promote sustainability at IES is a day field trip to a local organic farm in Vilnova, Catalunya where students have the opportunity to help the farmer, learn the practices, participate in agricultural work, get a better understanding of Community Currency and in turn receive some form of allowance, whether in goods from the farmer or the local currency of the community.


1.1. Similar actions from previous semesters

In the spring of 2011 as well as Fall 2011, IES students planned a visit to local organic farms. In Spring 2011, the students visited an argo-ecological farm about an hour south of Barcelona and in Fall 2011, 2-3 IES students gave the opportunity to all IES students to participate in a day trip to an agricultural farm. Our action plan is a follow up of their previous actions but we are focusing our project on local currencies and how they are sustainable and used within the community.
This action potentially failed in previous years due to lack of communication with IES facutly in order to sustain the action for future semesters. The fact that the visit was not set up before the semester began also led to the failure of the previous actions. It is important to form a relationship and be consistent with one particular farmer.

1.2. SWOT Analysis

Strenghts:
Creates a sense of community
Strengthens the relationship between IES and the Vilanova Farm
Opportunity to learn about farming and agricultural practices and the importance of local, sustainable farming
Providing service and labor/help for the farmer
Supports the local community and their businesses with the use of Common Currency
Opportunity to see the Common Currency in action
Opens up the eyes of the IES students to life outside the city

Weaknesses:
Not a large variety of dates, only visiting the farm once during the semester (December 1)
Limited number of students allowed to go since space is limited in transportation to and from the farm (only 2 cars available)
December is not the high season for farming, most of the harvest is during November as well as spring time
Local currency that the students recieve is only usable within the local community where the farm is located (might not give students a good enough incentive to become involved)
It is impossible to predict or know what the future outcome will be of this action in semesters to come

Opportunities:
IES students have the opportunity to expand their knowledge on agriculture and interact with locals
Therefore providing a good and positive reputation of IES students from the locals
Opportunity to receive fresh and organic produce and goods in return for their hard work in the field
Have a positive and lasting effect on participating students with their future food choices
Trade the local, Vilanova community currency, Turuta, with the universal Catalan community currecy, Ecosol
Contact another farmer in El Montseny about an additional visit to his farm- contact information: clararibatallada at gmail.com

Threats:
The participants may possibly forget what they learned about organic farming upon returning to Barcelona or the states
There might be a lack of interest among the students since the incentives are limited
The trip is optional therefore many students might choose not to be involved and take advantage of the opportunity

1.3. Feedback loops

Our action creates a reinforcing feedback loop since there are both positive and negative relationships among the nodes, below is an explanation of our specific action as a feedback loop:
IES students participate in an optional visit to a local, organic farm in Vilanova, Catalunya just 45 minutes south of Barcelona
-> there is an increase in the participant's knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices, healthy food habits, local currency and the benefits of buying local products
-> participants are more likely to support local businesses (LOIS) by buying their products
-> by buying local products they purchase less non-sustainable, large scale business (TINA) products
-> participants share their experience and new purchasing practices with other IES students as well as family members, friends, etc.
-> These people are then influenced and also begin to support local businesses with their newly evolved/changed habits
-> With an increase awareness of the benefits of supporting local businesses, large scale businesses with unsustainable practices will receive less and less business opportunities
-> The reputation of IES among the locals increases thus creating a positive relationship between the farmers and the current as well as future sudent body of IES
-> Opens the door for further visits and trips for IES students to local, organic farms outside of Barcelona

1.4. Advertising

Included in the IES planner as a planned field trip avaiable for students
Posting of attached flyers around IES center
Sending out a program-wide email regarding the opportunity

2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

This action creates an opportunity for IES students to experience sustainable practices through first-hand interaction with a local and productive LOIS business (farm) which uses community currency. Vilanova's community currency is noted as the Turuta. As stated above in the opportunity section of the SWOT chart, the Turuta can possibly be converted into Ecosol, the Catalan community currency, therefore keeping the currency within the region. The students are also able to use the currency when in Barcelona, as well as Vilanova. Community currency is percieved to be sustainable since it keeps the money circulation within the local community which supports and benefits other local businesses within the same community.
This action also improves the sustainability of IES by changing the perspective and common habits of students on local and organic products, particullary food, through their first hand experiences on the farm.
The ecological footprints will decrease if the participants retain and reuse the knowledge gained from their experience on the farm to change their habits. In addition if partcipants share their practices of buying locally and organically with others, they will in turn have a positive effect on local businesses within their community as well as decrease the demand for large scale business' products. Then clearly the ecological footprint will decrease outside of IES and have a more lasting positive effect.
Since this local and organic farm is a LOIS business, the "middle man" will be successfully cut out between the producer and the consumer which is more sustainable than supporting a TINA business since they sell directly to the farmers markets or their consumers, such as the IES participants.
This local and organic farm is a small scale business as well which creates a sense of community among the farmer and the local citizens, creating strong and lasting relationships.

2.1. Potential Benefits

Long term effect on the relationship between IES and the local farmer
Long term benefit to the participants, gaining knowledge on sustainable agricultural practices as well as a healthy lifestyle
Use of community currency, or "social currency" for social business models
Change in habits of partcipants
Spreading of knowledge and habits to others
Decrease in ecological footprints
Conceptualization of LOIS business
Relationship created between the farmers and the local community members as well as particants (IES students)

2.2. Potential Costs

The overall cost of this action is low yet there are some costs included in carrying out our action. They are as follow:
Cost of train ticket for transportation to the farm- 7.45 euros
Volunteered time of IES students on a Saturday afternoon
Volunteered time of the farmer to pick up the particpants from the trian station, including gas expenses, as well as guidance and instruction on the farm
Volunteered time of Xavier de Pedro to help organize and participate with the students at the farm, as well as a possible payment from IES Abroad Barcelona
The IES staff (whether it is Xavier de Pedro or someone else) will not be paid but instead will receive a half day off to chaperone the IES students to and from Vilanova.
This action does not require any insurance costs or a signed waiver from IES

3. How

To carry out our action we first need to recieve approval from our professor and the farmer to confirm a date for the visit. Then we must organize the trip taking into account the date, the time, the cost and other factors. We are meeting on Saturday, December 1, 2012 at the IES center. We plan to leave at 7:59 AM from the renfe station in Placa Cataluna. From there we will take the train to Vilanova, arriving at 8:42 AM where Juan Sanchez, the farmer will pick us all up in a provided car to transport us to his farm. The participants will volunteer our time and labor from 9 until 3 PM through assisting the farmer. Lunch will be provided by Juan.
In a perfect world there would be more WWOOF farms that would be able to accomodate more students to allow them to have this opportunity. In the last few weeks here we have at IES we can continue to promote this opportunity and help to better this sustainable activity so it will continue to happen for future semesters.
The proposed date for the Spring 2013 semester of IES Abroad Barcelona is sometime during the month of Feburary.

3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

Our action supports the "Cradle to Cradle" design because the resources we use for our action will be recycled. For example, the flyers that will be posted on the IES bulletin boards will be put in the recycling bins available at IES or if they are in decent condition, they will be saved and re-used in future semesters. The paper used for the flyers should be made out of 100% recycled items and should be recycable therefore ensuring that it was reused from previous products and can be reused in the future. This might be difficult, but if possible the action should be designed in this manner.

3.2. Questions for the unified survey

Survey questions:

1. If there was an opportunity for IES students to visit a local, sustainable, WOOF farm 45 minutes outside of IES and volunteer a few hours of their time on a Saturday in return for a basket of produce from the farm or "local currency" that can be used within the community, would you be interested in attending?

2. If yes, which dates would work best for you?

Saturday, December 1
Friday, December 7 (date of no school for all IES students)
Saturday, December 8

3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey

Only 16 out of 247 IES students answered our survery sent out by email. The majority of the responses to the survery regarding our action (75% or 12 people) responded that they would be willing to volunteer at a local, sustainable, WWOOF farm outside of Barcelona. If this small portion is a representation of the entire IES body of students, then it is safe to state that the majority of IES students would be willing to participate in our action.

3.4. Incentives

The participants would recieve a basket of produce from the farm as well as possible common currency to use within the local community. The participants also are given the opportunity to practice their Spanish with the locals, see a different part of Spain, and learn about sustainable agricultural practices.

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

We will post photos and information on our trip on the website to inform other IES students of our actions and ways they can get involved. This will help for future projects of visits WWOOF farm to raise awareness of ways to be sustainable.

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

For this action to be sustained once we leave Barcelona it will be vital that the trip becomes an optional field trip provided by IES at the beginning of each semester. The trip should be advertised in the IES plans as well as flyers posted around the IES center so students are aware of the trip. Also with the creation of this page and forming a relationship with Juan Sanchez, future students will be able to promote our action.

3.7. Who will do what

The minimum number of people that would be needed to sustain this action would be the 2 Sustainability students and one chaperone. The hope is to get other IES students involved and therefore the maximum number of people involved in the action would be 11 (the two students, one chaperone, eight volunteers). Also, in order to make our action completely sustainable an IES staff should be involved to ensure that the opportunity is rightfully advertised for the students, whether being included in the IES orientation or in the IES student planners.

3.8. Comparison to similar actions from previous semesters

Our action is similar to Spring 2011 design plan since this trip is open to all IES students. Prior to Spring 2011, this action was only avaiable to Sustainability Club Members. We want to reach out to the entire IES student population, not just the members of the Sustainability club or students of the Sustainability class. Although we are visiting a different farm at a different time, we are still providing our labor in exchange for goods from the farm and gaining knowledge on sustainable agricultural practices.

3.9. Document format

Image FLYER
Converted by the professor to:

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: Other individuls are allowed copy, distribue, and adapt the work as long as the work is attributed back to the original authors, is not used for commerical purposes, and is shared under the same or similar license as this one.

4. Time-sheet/ Chronogram

Email the farmer, Juan Sanchez to confirm a vist to the farm during the first two weeks of the semester (email: jsrodriguez1948 at gmail.com)
Set up a date for the visit after talking to IES staff and Juan- the two possible and plausible dates for IES Barcelona Spring 2013 program include February 9 or February 16 (both are Saturdays). The better date for the action might b February 16 since the 9 falls during the Carnival festivities.
Send out an email to the IES student body within the first two weeks providing appropriate information (including the set date) on the visit
Email Juan informing him the amount of students participating and what time you will be arriving (using the below information on train schedule):
Train schedule to set up departure and return times (http://www.renfe.com/viajeros/cercanias/barcelona/index.html)

"TURISME · VILANOVA I LA GELTRÚ ·." TURISME · VILANOVA I LA GELTRÚ ·. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.vilanovaturisme.net/>.
History and Beginnings." WWOOF Association. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.wwoofinternational.org/history.php>.
Marszalek, Elisa, and Tessa Permut. Field Trip: Sustainable Farm Practices. Fall 2011. <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/IES+Field+Trip&structure=2011b+Fall+Actions>
McDonald, Kelsey. Wwoofer Day of Service March 19. Spring 2011. <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Wwoofer+day+of+service+march+19&structure=2011a+Spring+Actions>

6. Annexes

7. Students involved in this action

Mary Grace Hathaway and Shelby Koebley




Page last modified on Tuesday 18 of December, 2012 19:36:22