Diploma design for ‘Muddy Boots’ – Vision

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The first anchor point on the design web is VISION.

 ‘Allow yourself to dream and create goals …a time of unbounded dreaming, to express the abundances we want to create… focus on where we want to be and not have to think about how to get there’                                                                            L. Macnamara in People and Permaculture  2012

I had a day to myself recently at our cabin in the woods and spent some time thinking about how I would like Muddy Boots to be. The brainstorm below shows some of my initial thoughts I used this process like a Client interview with myself.

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I found it really hard to go with the ‘unbounded dreaming’ thing and was rather caught up in the reality of what is actually achievable. But I have given it a go, starting from 7 main aims and trying to blow them up a little as shown below.

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I then used Six thinking hats design tool to address my thoughts from the client interview from different perspectives. I looked at Information, benefits, caution, creativity, emotion and process. I found this a very useful tool at it allowed me to express aspects of my thinking that I would probably not normally acknowledge. For example, ‘caution’ forces you to think of what could go wrong. It is useful to express these worries! This then leads naturally on to possible solutions or reassurances that your worries are unfounded. The ‘information’ prompt is also useful as it acts in much the same way as the ‘observation’ phase would if I was using OBREDIMET. This gives background to how the project is now and looks at what foundations are already in place to be built upon.

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Muddy Boots – Looby’s design web

The design that I am working on at the moment is for ‘Muddy Boots’ an outdoor playgroup based at my local community allotment. My sister and I set up this group two years ago as a way of encouraging pre-school children and their parents to play outdoors and get involved in growing their own food. The group ran quite successfully while my sister was in post at TCV and she had some funded hours to devote to managing the group. Her contract at TCV has now come to an end and rather than lose such a lovely activity and great network of parents, I have decided to take it on as a volunteer.I have secured permission to continue using the allotment site and children’s tools, which is fantastic. I have also been given the paperwork from previous years and contacts for the parents who still wish to be informed about the group’s activities.

My design will be about how to make this group run sustainably and how to engage the parents in helping to manage this process. I have decided to use Looby Macnamara’s Design web as the design process for this project.

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The design web is from Looby’s book People and Permaculture I found it to be a great read and very helpful in reflecting on relationships with other people and working with groups. I expect I shall refer to it many times throughout the process of working on this design.

The web can be used in a circular motion or you can dot around as you see fit. As it is my first time using the web, I intend to work around the circle in order in a clockwise motion, Starting with VISION. My next post will look at my vision for Muddy Boots.

My PDC design

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In 2012 I did a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) These courses, which are run all over the world, introduce the concepts central to Permaculture. I found the course that I attended ever so inspiring. Courses are run over an intensive two-week residential course or as 12 separate days. My course was on one weekend per month from January till June. This suited me well as it fitted in with family life and gave lots of time for additional study around the sessions.

One of the requirements of the course is that you complete a design and present it to your peers. This process is guided by your tutor and structured around a Permaculture design process. I used OBREDIMET.

The images below show the processes I used and the plan for the final design. I chose to design an education space for the community allotment that I am involved with. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and created a design that was actually implemented. It was an exciting project and great to see my ideas come to life. This inspired me to go on to further study and consequently the Diploma in applied Permaculture design that I am currently working on.

I have decided to post about this design now, as I am just picking up this design again two years down the line. I hope to implement more elements of the design this spring and summer. The garden of the community allotment is the location in which ‘Muddy Boots’ outdoor playgroup is held. I mentioned this play group in this previous post Muddy Boots The running of this playgroup is the focus of my next Permaculture design for my diploma. I intend to crack on with writing up this design over the next few weeks and months. IMG_1446IMG_1447IMG_1448IMG_1449IMG_1451IMG_1452IMG_1453IMG_1454IMG_1455IMG_1456IMG_1457IMG_1458IMG_1459

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Plant Love – Tulips

I love Tulips in all their bold, colourful glory. There are a welcome flash of brightness in a garden just emerging from its grey and brown winter hibernation. A tulip in the garden or in a jug on the mantlepiece is a hopeful sight and always cheers me up. My husband brings me tulips on days of celebration.  My kids brought me a chicken named Tulip for Mother’s day.  Tulips are like a pretty new dress; pointless, frivolous, gaudy but fun and essential!

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My garden in April

IMG_1040Apple blossom about to open

Harvesting

In my last post I wrote about the first ‘garden salad’ of the year. We should now have enough leafy salad crops to eat a salad out of the garden a few times per week. I will keep on sowing seeds throughout the year to try to keep a steady succession of salads on the go. I am slightly obsessed with greens at the moment and seem to crave fresh leafy greens on a daily basis. My other obsession is chocolate, shame I can’t grow coco beans too!

Planting

I am enjoying planning my garden flower boarders and filling in the gaps between the herbaceous perennials with plants or sowing seeds. The edible garden is slowly taking shape, with lots of plants started off in the greenhouse or conservatory window ledges.

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Thinking

I am in love with my garden. I think about it a lot and would rather hang out in it than go anywhere else most days. At this time of year, anything seems possible in the garden, I am full of plans and ideas. I am enjoying that these plans have moved away from compost, structures and paths now, towards actual exciting, beautiful, fabulous plants!

Feeling

We are all really enjoying spending days outside. Baby S is loving the freedom to romp around in the garden. I keep on finding him trying to break into the neighbour’s garden to go down their slide. He also has figured out how to climb up to the trampoline and even attempts the tree-house ladder! (He is only 13 months old) So I am feeling glad for him that this exciting new world has opened up and happy that he is a confident, exploring type of boy. But on the other hand, I am constantly worried about him hurting himself and I have to try to watch him a lot of the time. This rather restricts my gardening ambitions at the moment! But who could resist this cute little chap? IMG_1359

IMG_1335 IMG_1339 IMG_1343 IMG_1346IMG_1351Tiny plums developing behind the blossom. IMG_1349Self set bluebells. These ones are inside my compost heap. I will relocate them once they have finiahed flowering.  IMG_1002Chalk drawing by my eldest daughter.

Weather stats

Thursday 17th April 2014

Cloudy but mild day with some light rain expected later.

High 13, Low 5

Sunrise 06.03 Sunset 20.06 IMG_1361IMG_1393Newest chickens, Tulip and Eggy, they were Mother’s day presents from my lovely children

Food from my garden

Yesterday I made the first ‘garden salad’ of the year. the leaves were all rather small and pickings were slim but it felt like a milestone never-the-less. I used; red salad bowl lettuce, pea shoots, rocket, parsley, chard, oregano and wild garlic, all from the garden and green house. We ate it with the addition of tomatoes, seeds, falafels, home-made guacamole and bread from my brother’s bakery.

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Wild Garlic

IMG_0930Some of the first green shoots to appear in my garden are those of Wild garlic. As early as mid March I saw small, green, pointed fingers reaching for the sky. About ten years ago we stumbled across a huge patch of wild garlic in a local woodland. We had wandered off the beaten path, following our dog Frankie. We smelt the garlic before we saw it, it is such a distinctive smell and so pungent, especially if trampled under foot. We filled our pockets and feasted but then never managed to find the spot again.

IMG_1307Wild garlic growing with nettles and cleavers at the bottom of my garden.

Wild garlic is a relatively new addition to my garden. A friend of my mother has a front garden filled with wild garlic, the plants have multiplied over the years until the point where they have totally overtaken her garden and she wanted rid of them. My family and I happily took away buckets full of plants and carrier bags of leaves to make into pesto. (The pesto was delicious) I planted lots of her plants around the shady margins of my garden. It is typically a woodland plant , so happiest in cool, damp corners.

Last spring I was rather pre-occupied with a new baby boy to care for, so I left the wild garlic to its own devises. It turns out that was the ideal thing to do. as its best not to harvest leaves in the first year after planting or transplanting. This allows the plants to get established and provide a good crop the following year. My plants are now doing very well as we already have more leaves than we can use.It doesn’t keep well, so i have found picking just before use to be the best idea. I may try making pesto again and I am wondering if it would freeze well?

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I have been eating the wild garlic leaves for the last few weeks now, treating the plants in a cut and come again manner. I have been adding raw leaves to salads, stirring it into pasta sauces, finely chopping it and adding a lovely flavour to omelettes and, as my garlic breath will attest to, munching on the leaves straight out of the garden.

IMG_1026A lunchtime salad of rocket, spinach, peppers, sprouted seeds, haloumi and potatoes.

The plants will soon send up pretty star-like white flowers, these taste good too and look very pretty sprinkled over dishes. I am getting a lot of mileage from wild garlic and am glad to have such an early, pretty and tasty perennial in my garden.

Influences

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As part of my Diploma in applied Permaculture design, I am required to keep a record of influences. This needs to include books I have read, films I have watched, people I have met with and courses I have attended. I have neglected to do this since I began the course in October, so this post shall be an attempt to catch up! I intend to do a quarterly post to keep up to date in the future.

Films and videos watched.

Project wild thing – A film about the importance of outdoor learning for children.

Vegucated – A documentary film challenging three meat eaters to go vegan for 6 weeks.

Geoff Lawtons’s regular video postings about Permaculture and food growing.

Charles Dowding’s video on you tube about no dig gardening

Various posts on you tube from Permaculture gardeners.

The Power of the community – A film about how Cuba survived their oil crisis.

Courses, workshops and events attended

I had an induction session with my tutor Hannah Thorogood in November ’13 and a design support tutorial in March ’14.

I went to the Grand designs live show in October ’13. I spoke with tutors from CAT (Centre for alternative technology) in Wales and watched talks by Mark Diacono and James Wong.

Forest schools pre-school with my two youngest children from Oct ’13 – March ’14

I volunteer on the Leicester PDC that began in January ’14 and is ongoing

I attended a course ran by Hannah Thorogood about developing a poly-income March ’14

I have been attending yoga classes regularly (one or two per week) from June ’13 but the tutor has recently stopped teaching and I am looking for an alternative class.

I did a 30 day trial at Bikram yoga in October Nov ’13. I enjoyed the experience but it was too expensive for me to carry on in the long-term.

Guild

I have chatted informally and done the 4 questions activity as part of the PDC I am attending. I have a guild session booked in with other Leicester based Permaculture diploma apprentices for late April.

Books readIMG_1105Gaia’s garden was the first Permaculture book that I read after finishing my PDC. I have refered back to it many times and find it a great source of inspiration.IMG_1103I really enjoyed this book and am planning on structuring my next design around Looby’s design web. IMG_1108This was useful in helping me with the implementation and maintainance plans for my garden design. IMG_1104You can’t beat a bit of River Cottage for inspiration in the garden and the kitchen.IMG_1098

I saw Mark’s talk at Grand designs live. I enjoyed this book and felt inspired to try growing  Lovage, Kai lan and Egyptian walking onions.

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I have another of Dan Pearson’s books and I love the photography in it. My brother brought me this book for my birthday. It is a real plantsman’s book. The plants are identified only by their Latin names, and not always pictured, so I found this slightly difficult. However Dan’s writing is lovely and the images are great.

IMG_1100IMG_1109I borrowed the two books above from my local library. I wanted to see how non-permaculture gardeners went about planning their gardens and contrast this with the approaches I have been taught to take. Permaculture is obviously better! I also love reading books about gardens, so any excuse really.

IMG_1101This was another birthday gift. My children and I eat a vegetarian diet and I am interested in Veganism too. This book covers a lot of the basics about what our bodies need at different times of our lives.

IMG_1102More inspiration for interesting plants to add into my garden. IMG_1106I am using a no-dig approach in my garden now so wanted to read up more about this.

Also, books not photographed but read recently include; Aranya’s book Permaculture design a step by step guide and Graham Burnet’s booklet Permaculture a beginners guide. And of course Patrick Whitefield’s The earth care manual.

IMG_1107This is next on my bedside table along with Edible perennial gardening by Anni Kelsey.

 

A posy from my garden

IMG_1292The Permaculture principle that I am l planning on looking at in May is ‘Obtain a yield’ To fulfil this, I hope to be eating something from my garden 3-4 times a week and cutting a posy for my house or to give away every week. The garden is looking lovely, with lots of interesting plants coming up, so I thought I would get a head start on my May challenge and cut a pretty posy today. I hope to make this a regular post throughout this spring and summer.

Today’s posy includes; fennel, plum blossom, clematis, rosemary, jasmine and bluebells.

Plant love – Magnolia

In my Mum’s front garden there is a beautiful old magnolia tree. I spent many hours of my childhood climbing up it, swinging from its limbs and picking the flower petals to make perfume. It is blooming today and looks fabulous. I feel that magnolia trees have a fatal flaw, they flower just a little bit too early. They’re often caught by late frosts, making the petals turn brown and fall off. My fingers are crossed that the weather this year stays mild and we get to enjoy the annual spectacle of these trees in full bloom for a little while longer.

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