Permaculture Design Certificate

I first heard the word ‘Permaculture’ way back in 2007 when we bumped into some like-minded folk while travelling in our old bus. I had been interested in all things green since childhood but it was wonderful for me to find out about the existence of a movement that pulled together so many areas that I was interested in. We immediately subscribed to Permaculture magazine and set about making our lives more sustainable; growing veg at home, raising chickens, embracing voluntary simplicity and making the choice not to go back into full-time work after the birth of our first daughter and to be economically poor but time rich!

At the end of 2011 I finally signed up to do my Permaculture Design Certificate. The PDC is a 72 hour curriculum, normally split into 14 days of study . My PDC was over 7 weekends in 2012 Jan- July. It was amazing. I laughed, I cried, I learnt so much, I had some weird experiences and a couple of profound ones. I met fantastic people, pushed myself to the edges of my comfort zone and took many more steps along my journey into the wonderful world of Permaculture.

This year (2014) I have been again attending a PDC, this time as an ‘interloper’ helping out around the edges of the course. One of the special things about the PDC is that once you hold the certificate, you are welcome to attend other courses to help, learn and progress the spread of Permaculture in your area. For the Leicester PDC I have led some morning circle activities, guilded, took part in activities, presented one of my designs and enjoyed listening to the ever knowledgeable PDC tutor Hannah Thorogood. Going over old ground was very useful to me. I feel that I have a stronger grip on the design processes and tools this time around the cycle of the PDC.

I was asked to take photographs on the last day of the course to document the group presenting their designs. Each participant, helper or teacher, had five minutes in which to very briefly describe their design and the tools and processes they used. I think we all found it challenging to squeeze our talks into such a tight time-frame. But it really was fascinating to view 14 people’s very diverse takes on Permaculture designs in one hectic morning. It was just lovely to meet with such inspiring people on a regular basis, I will miss these weekends, please do keep in touch everyone. Enjoy the photos. xx

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Anna’s design was for her garden. It included a summerhouse made from recycled windows. IMG_4795 IMG_4798

Marie also created a garden design for her typically sized backyard. IMG_4800 IMG_4801

Emma lives on a boat, so her plan was for her outside growing space, her allotment.IMG_4803 IMG_4805

Chess is another boat dweller, her land is quite extensive and her plan looked at adding to her food forest and annual beds. IMG_4807IMG_4808

Liz is hoping to move to Dorset/ Devon in the near future and build her own home. Her design looked at one possible location for this and designed her home and garden. IMG_4810 IMG_4811

Ben used Permaculture to design his outdoor space at his home. He has a small yard that he wanted to use effectivly for his family to enjoy.IMG_4813 IMG_4814

Laura worked on a fantasy design for her ideal family garden for herself and her two young boys. She is currently house-hunting and amazingly the garden design fits perfectly into the outdoor space of a house she is keen to buy. IMG_4817 IMG_4818

Martin owns two houses one of which he rents out as a communal living space and he runs yoga retreats. His design looked at ways of improving his land and lifesytle possibilities. IMG_4821 IMG_4822

Jessie drew a beautiful tree to illustrate her journey over the past year towards buying her own home. She has decided to buy a boat with her partner Reevesie.IMG_4824IMG_4823

I  designed a system for running Muddy Boots Allotment playgroup. I split tasks into four chunks which followed the seasons, the action learning cycle and Looby’s design web. IMG_4832 IMG_4837

Ann presented a tweak to one of her designs for her gardening business. She has taken on a new worker and discussed how Permaculture has helped her with this change. IMG_4835 IMG_4836

Sarah is the lead designer on an impressive community land-share project called Whistlewood common. She shared a brief overview of setting up the organisation.IMG_4839 IMG_4841

Reevesie looked at his livelihood and choices for furthering his career. He used an interesting technique to ensure he kept to the 5 minute timescale by using slides that moved on automatically every 30 seconds. IMG_4843 IMG_4844

Sam’s design looked at desert Permaculture. Her partner lives in Arizona and together they are re-designing his house and garden to best suit the challenges of the climate. IMG_4846 IMG_4847

And finally our tutor Hannah shared with us her design for a multi-purpose field shelter that she is currently building on her small-holding in Lincolnshire. IMG_4848 IMG_4849

Certificates were handed out at the end of the day. Each participant presented a certificate to another group member after saying a few words about that person. It was very touching

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My garden in October

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Harvesting Jerusalem artichokes, cooking apples, one solitary cob of sweetcorn, chilis, a little kale and lots of seed saving

Planting I am just about to plant out some daffodil and tulip bulbs lining the path to my front door. My front garden is totally neglected and needs a Permaculture design project in its own right. I have scattered the last of the green manures seeds too. A little late I know so i don’t hold out much hope really, especially with free-ranging hens around. I am abandoning the garden to the hens now really. I like them to be able to free-range over the autumn and winter, so any further planting is just pointless as it ends up as chicken treats!

Thinking I am thinking about Halloween and fireworks night-yay! Two of my fave seasonal celebrations. We often have a little party, but are feeling so pushed for time this year we probably will not manage to organise it. My girls are off to a school Halloween disco later this week and we will all dress up for a spot of trick or treating. We like to make our own costumes or re-purpose item rather than splashing out on new costumes each year. I will post pics of the kids in all their splendor!

Feeling I am feeling like lots of cycles in my life are coming to an end currently. It’s a good thing as it frees up my time and head space lots. I intend to do a post on this subject asap.I am enjoying the autumn so far, the weather has been very mild, I am sat with the backdoor flung open at the mo, its been like summer again today! The clocks have just changed and I do not enjoy that. But I shall focus on the positives of dark evenings, snuggling up with the kids, hot chocolate, fires and dvd movie nights.

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One of the chicks we hatched out back in the spring has now turned into a magnificent cockerel. He is friendly and protective of his flock of ladies. He had yet to crow, we are hoping, as we hope every year, to have found a non-cockerdoodling cockerel. We so want to keep him! Our neighbours also hatched out a boyo this year, he was happily crowing away in their garden for about a month, I really liked the sound. But after complaints from other neighbours, he was sent off to live on a farm- no, really he was. – He was! I am not sure our boy will be so lucky when his time comes.

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The Jerusalem artichokes were beautiful, I love this shot from this morning of the yellowing leaves framed against a bonfire grey sky.

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The greenhouse is still providing us with salads and chilis.

Weather stats

Tuesday 28th october 2014

High 19 Low 10

Warm, still and sunny. A beautiful autumnal day.

Sunrise 06:53 Sunset 16:43

 

Diploma design for Muddy Boots – Overview sheet and final design

I have created a overview sheet today listing the stages of the design web that I followed, plus my objectives, activity, timescales and design tools used at each stage. This has been a useful exercise and I think I will use this pattern in future design projects for both planning and reflection.

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I also thought it was worth re-posting my final design for Muddy Boots as it was rather buried way back in my blog in an update for the ‘Action’ anchor point. The image of the tree references both the Action Learning Cycle and the Design Web.

It also uses the cycle of the year to divide up the activity required to run the group. Each season flaps open (see second image) to reveal a list of activity to be completed. I wanted my design to be playful and child-like, connected to nature and deeply rooted in the cycle of the year,  reflecting how I want the whole Muddy Boots experience to feel. The image of a tree with opening flaps like a children’s book sums this up well I feel.

I feel relatively happy with it and very relieved to have finally reached this point! I am presenting my design at the PDC in 10 days time and am looking forward to receiving feedback on the design and the whole design process.

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A close up of each season/ stage in turn

Autumn – Appreciation, Reflection, Pauseimg_5235img_5236

Winter – Vision, Helps, Limitsimg_5237img_5238

Spring – Patterns, Ideas, Principlesimg_5239img_5240

Summer – Integration, Action, Momentumimg_5241img_5242

To make this design work for me on a practical level I then created this table for each stage of planning and activity. It allows me to clearly see each task and work through them and tick off once I’ve completed it. Boring but effective. The sheets go into the front of my planning folder and are worked through.

 

SEASON

 

AUTUMN
PATTERN

 

OBSERVE
DETAILS

 

APPRECIATION, REFLECTION, PAUSE
ACTIVITIES

 

  Deadline Done Notes?
Run the final few sessions      
Run a seasonal celebration event      
Produce a photobook of the year      
Do final evaluations with the participants      
Professional reflections on venue, sessions, timings, finances, support, participation etc      
Personal reflections on learning for me      
Plan initial tweaks for next season/year – site changes, paperwork changes, price increase, timings etc      
Begin planning for any planned changes for next year      
Show appreciation to venue, helpers, supporters      
Schedule in and carry out pause and reward time for myself.      
 

SEASON

 

WINTER
PATTERN

 

THINK
DETAILS

 

VISION, HELPS, LIMITS
ACTIVITIES

 

  Deadline Done Notes?
Preparation of self, rest, rejuvenate and re-inspire      
Research other similar groups to make links and gather ideas      
Revisit and reflect on last seasons reflections      
Set the intentions, vision and aims for the group      
Begin looking into practical considerations

–       Who are activities aimed at?

–       What will the pattern of sessions be?

–       When will the group meet, dates and times

–       Where will the group meet? Finalise venues and complete any paperwork/insurance/ H&S requirements of the venue

     
Set up all paperwork systems

–       Booking forms

–       Registers

–       Financial record keeping

–       Permissions

     
Make decisions around money, venue fees?, insurance fees? Weekly budget for materials? Equipment purchase costs? Book purchase costs? Costs to participants?      
Do projected yearly takings, set myself targets for income and exenditure      
Set myself an hourly/ weekly/ monthly wage      
How will I take payment from participants? Do I need to set up bank transfers, paypal, etc? Do I need change for a weekly float?      
Check and update email mailing lists      
Can I add an unsubscribe button to mailing list mailouts?      
Make decisions about time – how long will sessions be? How long will I spend planning, prepping etc      
Plan my working week and set working hours, how can I help myself stick to this?    
 

SEASON

 

SPRING
PATTERN

 

DESIGN
DETAILS

 

PATTERNS, IDEAS, PRINCIPLES
ACTIVITIES

 

  Deadline Done Notes?
Finalise all practical considerations      
Do Publicity and promotion – Current list/ waiting list/ then further promo as required

–       Newsletter

–       Emails

–       Fabcebook

–       Website

–       Instagram

–       Posters and flyers locally

–       Local press

–       Local schools/playgroups as relevant

     
Set up all systems required for taking bookings and payments      
Take bookings      
Design from pattern to detail- session planning

– Design term plans

– Sessions plans

     
Check current stock levels for resourses and equipment, what needs replacing, buying, borrowing etc      
Check first aid kit      
Plan what resourses, equipment and materials will be required and make these purchases      
Who will be supporting me? What do I need to do for them? Book them for dates required, brainstorming meetings, insurance? DBS?      
Is insurance in place?, when does it need updating?      
Do all risk assessments and any outstanding policy and procedure work required.      
Ensure all paperwork required is sent to the venues      
Site prep days      
Weekly prep      
Begin running sessions      
Documentation/ reflection/ promotion weekly      
     

 

 

SEASON

 

SUMMER
PATTERN

 

DO
DETAILS

 

INTERGRATION, ACTION, MOMENTUM
ACTIVITIES

 

  Deadline Done Notes?
Plan my weekly and daily tasks carefully keeping clarity      
Run the sessions      
Plan sessions that require further work      
Keep up with all weekly paperwork      
Keep careful financial records      
Purchase required weekly resources and record finances      
Photographic documentation every session, edit and upload to FB, website, instagram regularly      
Keep in touch with all interested parties      
Keep the waiting list updated      
Keep a reflective journal after each session if relevant      
Do mid term evaluations and make any required tweaks      
Support and appreciate people providing help      
Carry out venue maintainance as required      
Keep track of stock levels and purchase as required.      
Pay myself an hourly/ daily or weekly wage      
       
       
       
       

 

Diploma design for Muddy Boots – Pause

Incorporate time for rest and rejuvenation… How can I recharge my batteries? How can I make times of rest and quiet a built-in part of my design? How can I rejuvenate myself?                                                                L. Macnamara People and Permaculture 2012

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Pauses are important. Quiet spaces in between all the hectic activity of everyday life allow space for reflection, relaxation and appreciation. Without the pause of sleep that we require for a healthy life, we would not be able to function during the day. Constant chatter can become an annoyance but a good conversation after a day spent alone is a real gift. So I think it is the contrast of light and dark, company and alone-time, noise and peace that is important. We all need to strike a balance in our lives.

I need to carve out times of peace and pause in my life. My three children are wonderful but all-encompassing. My family life is full, noisy, messy and hectic from the moment they wake up until the last one falls asleep. I am often trying to breast feed, help with homework, find a missing shoe and watch a dance routine simultaneously while cooking dinner and working on the computer. Phew!

I try very hard to find moments of pause in my life. Moments that I used to take for granted pre-children are now precious and closely guarded. Five minutes with the paper, a quiet cup of tea, a bath all to myself – these are my simple pleasure. I go to bed early and read my book in a silent room. I grab a moment in the garden on my own whenever I can. I have recently started running. I go out for a while and run along the canal path on my own listening to the wind in my ears and thinking of nothing. It is blissful to me.

To rejuvenate myself and ease my Diploma path I have decided to gift myself a treat at significant points along the way. When a design write-up is completed or a difficult idea battled with, I will factor in a reward. This could be to buy an inspiring book, to schedule myself onto a course, to plan a visit to a garden or to take a day off and follow my interests without any diploma related agenda! I will also give myself some smaller rewards, a cuppa once a blog post is completed, a squre of chocolate or lunch with a friend. I have always worked well with delayed gratification. I love Christmas Eve far more than Christmas Day. I like to get all my tasks completed and sit back feeling excited for what is to come.  So the promise of a reward is as good for me as the actuality of it!

I will aim to design more moments of pause into Muddy Boots sessions. I have often thought that I cram too much into the sessions and have to drag the kids away from the sandpit or mud pie that is happily occupying them. Time and effort is spent in encouraging them to take part in an activity when they would be perfectly happy just staying with the sand and mud. I am mindful of providing good value for the parents as well as the kids you see. But yes, pause is important too and I will try to sit back, observe more and just ‘let it be’

Diploma design for Muddy Boots – Reflection

Evaluate progress… What is the current situation? What is going well? What is challenging?                      L.Macnamara People and Permaculture 2012

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I am writing this with two more sessions of Muddy Boots to run before we stop for the Winter. I have been reflecting on how the design has worked all the way through the process really. It is a natural human response to look back over what has happened in your life and ponder. In order to make my reflections useful to me, I have formalised this pondering process and carried out lots of reflective activities for Muddy Boots.

1. I have kept a reflective journal. Immediately after each session I made notes about the following points; how many people attended the session, what the theme was, a brief description of activity, who led the activity, what the weather was like and how much I enjoyed the session. I tried to be honest in this and I have found it a revealing process. In summary, the sessions where I was well supported felt great, positive, inspiring and worthwhile. The few sessions were I felt I was battling through on my own, felt unfulfilling, hard work and unenjoyable. An easy lesson to learn there about working with others.

2. I have used The four questions a number of times when thinking about Muddy Boots. I have discussed the design during guilds and I have used the questions on my own. Especially at times when I am feeling stuck or troubled, I find it helps to settle my thoughts and see a way forward if I write down my responses to the four questions. ‘What is going well?’ ‘What are you finding difficult?’ ‘What are your long terms plans and visions?’ and ‘What are your next actievable steps?’

3. After the 7th session, I began doing Midpoint evaluations. I asked the group participants to complete a short questionnaire about where they found out about the group, what they enjoyed, why they came along, what changes they would like to see etc. This provided me with useful feedback, some of which led to immediate changes within the group like swapping squash for water and continuing to run sessions even if it rains.

4. At the final session on October 31st I will be doing Final evaluations. I need to spend some time thinking about what format this will take. I don’t want to do another written questionnaire really, so we may do a brainstorm activity. I would also like to give participant’s who may not be at the final session for one reason or another a chance to give me feedback. So I will welcome this via emails or the Facebook page. Again I need to consider exactly how this will work.

5. The four types of reflection listed above will feed into my reflections and resulting tweaks to the design. I hope to run Muddy Boots again next spring and summer but making some changes to how the group runs and hopefully proving me some payment for the hours I put in. So this design is very much ongoing and is hopefully the start of something much bigger for my future career path. Watch this space!

 

Diploma design for Muddy Boots – Appreciation

Focus on things to be thankful for… what can I appreciate about myself… other people… the world around me? How do I feel supported at the moment?                                                                                                     L. Macnamara People and Permaculture 2012

IMG_8398I appreciate the bountiful harvests currently being gathered in week after week at the school garden. I appreciate sharing this lovely organic, seasonal food with the children, watching them collect their shares to take home and seeing their faces light up.

What I appreciate about myself

*I have gained in confidence in planning and delivering Muddy Boots

* I have been very organised

*I have been good at welcoming people to the site and helping them to feel at home. I have been able to overcome my shyness at meeting new people and have actively enjoyed this aspect of the group.

*I have planned some great activities that have been well received

*I have taken lots of lovely pictures every week and shared them via FB

*I have inspired people to garden at home

*I have not let myself get stressed out by being ‘in charge’ of Muddy Boots

*I have dealt quite well with the difficulties of sharing the community allotment and have spoken honestly but tactfully to the people involved.

*I have created a good model for Muddy Boots and I have exciting plans for it in the future!

What I appreciate about others

*I have appreciated people’s practical help in setting up the site and tidying away at the end of sessions. I have almost always had help with tea and washing up duty.

*I have appreciated that Hilary, Abi, Gizelle, Oti, Zoe and Vicky all volunteered to lead sessions for me and all did such a great job.

*I have appreciated people’s feedback and honest suggestions for changes.

* I have appreciated people always turning up for sessions, even the two that happened in the rain! We have had an average of about 10 families each session which well exceed my initial expectations.

*I have appreciated the positive posts and thank you’s on FB and the recommendations people have made to their friends.

*I have appreciated the help and support of my friends and family.

*I have appreciated meeting new friends and forging new networks through Muddy Boots

*I have appreciated Sue’s positive attitude to having us at the Community allotment and her efforts in shielding me from bad attitudes of others on site who are less happy to have us there.

*I appreciate the offers of alternative venues that have been offered to me already by three separate people.

* I appreciate my sister asking me to set up this playgroup three years ago and the positive effect it has had on our relationship.

*I appreciate the time my mother has provided me with the gift of time, by looking after my son each thursday to allow me to work on this design and the write up.

What I appreciate about the world around me

*I appreciate the opportunity that was given to me to design the education space at the community allotment three years ago.

* I appreciate being allowed the ongoing use of the education space and the wider community allotment site.

*I appreciate having a shed dedicated to the equipment I use for Muddy Boots. I appreciate not having to lug this gear around with me or it cluttering up my home.

*I appreciate harvesting crops that others have put time and effort into nurturing

* I appreciate finding interesting wildlife every week with the children at the allotment. From foxes to worms, they have been fascinated by it all.

* I appreciate the weather being very kind to us throughout the season.

I appreciate the gazebos on both sunny and rainy days. Shelter and shade were always important. They also created a pleasant focal point for people to gather.

*I appreciate being outdoors and having fun with my children and my friends.

 

 

Influences March – Oct 2014

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I intend to do a 6 monthly ‘Influences’ post, in October and April. Since my last post in April, I have been mainly focussing on two Diploma design, Muddy Boots Allotment Playgroup and my health and nutrition diploma design probably to be called The Wolf Run Challenge. So a lot of my influences have been to do with working with community groups  or health and nutrition.

COURSES, WORKSHOPS AND EVENTS

I continue to attend the Leicester PDC every month. I have been participating in the reflection and planning meetings for these sessions too. I have led aspects of the morning circle most months. I have tried to make my contributions fun, informative and enjoyable. I have certainly enjoyed being involved in this way and I feel quite confident talking in-front of the group.

I had a phone tutorial with my tutor Hannah Thorogood in May and attended a one day course with her in April about developing a poly-income. I am due to see Hannah again before Christmas for a design support tutorial.

I attended a ‘Forest Gardens for Forest Schools practitioners’ one day course in September as detailed in my previous blog post. sarah house

I attended numerous workshops over two days at the Permaculture Convergence in September. I especially enjoyed ‘Vegan permaculture?’ led by Graham Burnett, ‘Mindfulness in permaculture’ and I watched Jan Martin’s diploma accreditation event which was very useful as it was the first accreditation I had seen. IMG_4223

GUILDS 

I still have not settled into a permanent guild which is an ongoing challenge. I have however been guilding at the PDC sessions with Ann, Dani and Sam. This has been great. We have tried to set other dates independent of the PDC along with Reevsie and Ellen too, but so far we are failing miserably to find suitable times and dates to get together.

I have been using the 4 questions with my husband and in my own reflections.

PLACES VISITED 

I visited The Eden Project while on holiday in Cornwall in August, actually we enjoyed it so much, we went twice in a week! I took lots of photographs so will do a post about this visit soon. It was very heartwarming to see so many people there, all learning about gardening and sustainability while enjoying a family day out!

I visited The Lost gardens of Heligan. I have read a few books about the re-discovering and restoration of Heligan, so it was lovely to see this special place for myself. I was very impressed with the outdoor education facilities. There was a den making activity laid on. Poles, ropes, groundsheets and tarpaulins were provided and families were encouraged to build their own shelter. My children loved this. It was made especially magical due to a freak rainstorm that lashed down just as we completed our den. We took shelter and ate our packed lunch in the den. The kids were in heaven!

I have paid numerous visits to my local botanical gardens. They were the venue for a few of the PDC sessions and I have returned throughout the summer to stroll around, play with the kids and make use of the tea rooms. It is interesting to visit with my brother, he has recently done a RHS Horticulture course and has learnt lots of latin names of plants and trees, so he loves to educate me as we wander around!

ONLINE LEARNING

I continue to use the Permaculture Diploma Facebook group. I have posted various questions and problems there and been astounded by the time and love shown by people in their thoughtful responses.

I have created a Facebook page for Muddy Boots which I update with text and images after each session. I also use this to communicate with group members and promote each session.

Probably my biggest influence from June onwards has been through my participation in the Eat Smile Live community coaching health and nutrition six month plan. I receive frequent emails and you-tube videos teaching me about different aspects of healthy lifestyles focussing on eating a balanced whole foods diet. There is a lively online community attached to the course too via Facebook which is a fantastic resource. I have been signposts to lots of other blogs and websites for inspiration too.

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BOOKS AND MAGAZINES

IMG_4688 People and permaculture has been my bible while working on my Muddy Boots design.

IMG_4689I brought Looby’s new book at the Convergence and read it all quickly the following week!

IMG_2654I am always looking for ways to simplify my life and the clutter that rules my household. This book is one I return to time and again for guidance and inspiration.

IMG_2653I try to protect my children from the negative influences of the modern world as much as possible while they are so young. It is not an easy task.

IMG_2652I really want to train as a forest schools teacher. Please universe, show me how this would be possible!

IMG_2651Fantastic cookbook used as the main reference book for my Eat Smile Live course.

IMG_2650IMG_2649IMG_2647More inspiration from the local library

IMG_2655This book was interesting as it talked about the importance of HOW you eat rather than WHAT you eat. Lots in here about slowing down and mindfulness, which currently interests me a lot.

IMG_4687IMG_4686My backcopies of Permaculture magazine, along with Country living and the Green Parent continue to be a source of inspiration. My husband would love me to get rid of them, but I say no! They are a useful resource and I genuinely do refer back to the quite often for ideas for planting, cooking, natural parenting and seasonal celebrations.