3. Muddy Boots allotment playgroup

This design is non-land based. The aim was to create a structure to manage the running of ‘Muddy Boots’ allotment playgroup for pre-school children and their parents. I used Looby’s design web and the action learning cycle. Muddy Boots began in 2012 and this design was applied to the group in 2014 and is in ongoing use.















Overview and final design

Further reflections


See Design 1 Community allotment education space for details of where the group meets.

Before the design

The A-Z photo story

Design summary and reflections

DESIGN Muddy Boots allotment playgroup







This design focussed on the practicalities of running an outdoor playgroup for pre-school children and their parents. I’d been working on the playgroup for18 months prior to doing this design, with the help of my sister who was employed to maintain the site and develop community engagement. In 2014 her contract ended and the playgroup would have ended unless I was prepared to take it over. I wanted to do this and hoped to turn it into a small business. This design looked at how to manage the organisation of the work involved and how I could apply permaculture to this project.

This is what I wrote on my blog about the aims for this design;

The Muddy Boots Permaculture design will provide a framework for running the playgroup. It will detail the stages to go through in planning and running the sessions at both seasonal and weekly timescales. It will be adaptable for future seasons of Muddy Boots that may take place in various locations and at different timescale

WHAT DID I LEARN ABOUT PERMACULUTRE FROM DOING THIS DESIGN? I learnt about the design web and how to apply permaculture to people based systems rather than land based. I learnt that people are far harder than land! I learnt lots of planning and reflecting tools that were transferable to other areas of my life. Creating an overview sheet of activity done on the design was super useful.
WHAT DID I LEARN ABOUT MYSELF FROM DOING THIS DESIGN? ·      I learnt that I can be a super organised person

·      I learnt the important of reflection and learning from reflection

·      I learnt that I feel like my ‘best self’ when I am teaching others about something that I feel passionate about.

·      I especially enjoy working in an outdoor setting.

·      I learnt hat its good to ask people for help but that I have to be open and flexible and trust them to follow through.

HOW HAS THIS DESIGN HELPED ME? This design helped with the transition from running Muddy Boot in collaboration with my sister (as a volunteer) to taking full responsibility myself for the running of the group and turning it into a financially viable business that I’ve further developed over the years.
WHAT WENT WELL WITH THIS DESIGN? I created an easy to follow design that helped me identify and carry out key tasks at key times of the year. This makes the group easier to run in an efficient manner and keeps me on task and gives me clarity.
WHAT DID I FIND DIFFICULT WITH THIS DESIGN? ·      Working through the design web took me a very long time.

·      It was hard to think how to structure and present the actual design, as it was people rather than land based.



On writing this in late 2016, I plan on using the design to help me plan MB activity for 2017. This year I’d like to develop this further, setting myself a real business plan and muddy Boots manifesto. I will be using ‘the shining year’ business planning tools to help me do this, it feels in line with my ethics and similar in style to this design, so it resonates well for me.
WHAT ARE MY LONG TERM GOALS AND VISIONS FOR THIS DESIGN? MB now includes a Forest school on another site, so the business is my main income generation stream and the focus of my career. I hope to continue learning, improving my skills and bringing Muddy Boots to more and more people.