My sixth design was focussed on how I purchase and prepare food for my family. I wanted to work on a sustainable design in collaboration with other people about setting up a food buying co-op. I used the design process OBREDIMET and set myself a limit of ten hours writing up and ten hours meeting with the group to plan.
Design summary and reflections
|DESIGN||South Leicester Food Group|
|This design came out of discussions with various friends about how to improve our food buying and cooking habits. I wanted to work on a design in collaboration with other people and see how that felt as to date I’d only worked on design projects alone. We decided to act co-operatively and buy our staple foods as a group. This aimed to save us money, inspire each other and use our finances to support an organisation that was more inline with our ethics than the big supermarkets. We decided to form a group of 6+ families and do a regular food order from Suma and have regular shared meals and exchanges of ideas, recourses and support.|
|WHAT DID I LEARN ABOUT PERMACULTURE FROM DOING THIS DESIGN?||· It was great to share some permaculture design tools with other people, most of who were not involved in permaculture.
· This design taught me the importance of the evaluation step in the design process. So rather than running with your first good idea, you step back, truly consider a few different ideas and than make your decisions. This was a step that I’d noticed that I’d skimmed over in some of my previous designs.
|WHAT DID I LEARN ABOUT MYSELF FROM DOING THIS DESIGN?||· That I am bossy and that I quite like to be in control in groups!
· That other people often wait for someone else to steer the ship and its hard to find the balance between being proactive and being ‘in charge’ of a group.
· That more is not always better. Sometimes there are natural limits that you have to find. How often to order, how much to order, how many people should be in the group – natural limits for all these things had to be explored.
|HOW HAS THIS DESIGN HELPED ME?||This design has helped me to completely change my food buying habits. I now have a regular suma food order, a weekly veg box and only visit the supermarkets or local shops to top-up occasionally. It’s helped me to make the transition to eating almost completely organic foods at a price that we can afford. Working with others had helped to cement some good friendships and make some new friends too.|
|WHAT WENT WELL WITH THIS DESIGN?||I set myself a limit for the number of hours spent on this design; I think I initially said 10 hours meeting with the group and 10 hours writing up. I did go over this limit but not by much. It was a refreshing change to work on a relatively quick design after the last few designs, which had been epics! The design was concise and effective with scope for the group and the remit to grow and develop in coming years.|
|WHAT DID I FIND DIFFICULT WITH THIS DESIGN?||Initially the practicalities of working with others were difficult. The dynamics in the group were not always easy as of course people have different priorities and ways of doing things. The first =few times we ordered the foods, before we had a good design in place were tricky and took ages! I found it hard to know exactly what the ‘design’ bit of this design was. What should I present as the final design? When a project is land based, this step feels far more obvious.|
|WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS FOR THIS DESIGN?||The group is still ordering every few months and has grown to 9 families now. I’d like us to have more shared meals next year if possible but this can be hard to organise with so many people involved.|
|WHAT ARE MY LONG TERM GOALS AND VISIONS FOR THIS DESIGN?||I intend to continue ordering my food this way and I feel good about supporting ethical companies. I’d like to stop using supermarkets for my top-up shops, so this would mean getting a bigger freezer for bread and almond milk (these are my most frequently brought items on top-up shops) I’d like to do more meals, outings, activities with the families from the group as they share many of my interests.|