My health and wellbeing – Tweak and update.

My health and wellbeing design has been ticking along for approaching four years now. Some of the tools I designed have been very useful in my life and are still regularly used (the weekly blackboard planner) Some are used occasionally (meal planner) and some are now obsolete as my weekly schedule changed over the years (the exercise planner) and have been replaced by other designs and systems that are more fit to purpose. My idea of what health and wellbeing means for me has changed and developed over the years too.

My health and wellbeing is still very much on the agenda, as it should be for everyone! The purpose of this blog post today is to update with where I am now and share some of the tools that are currently working well for me. Some of these tools i’ve designed myself, others are adapted from various sources and some are purchased.

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Towards the end of 2016 I read a great book called ‘The desire map ‘ by Danielle LaPorte. Part of the book is a workbook and helps you to plan your year ahead around how you want to feel or your ‘core desired feelings’. I’ve found this a very helpful model to make planning really reflect what you WANT to do rather than just what you NEED to do. So much of my updated health and wellbeing work is structured by my core desired feelings for 2017 which are

CLARITY, VITALITY, BALANCE, IN TUNE AND THANKFUL.

I spent a long time deciding on these words, they are very meaningful to me and link to elements, directions and spirituality. I’m not going to go into much detail here about them, but feel its important to share the following.

In Tune – Feeling connected and grounded – Earth – North

Vitality – Feeling uplifted and positive – Air – East

Clarity – Looking forward, making plans, making things happen – Fire – South

Thankful – Looking back, feeling in the flow of life – Water – West

Balanced – The centre of everything, holding it all together – Spirit/ self

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I thought I’d make a list of all the tools that I am using and look at how interconnected they all are across the 5 core desired feelings.

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To gain clarity about how I use the tools I have laid out how I weave health and wellbeing work into my life at various levels, daily, weekly and monthly.

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Here is an example of my daily and weekly planning. I try to make this about all the CDF, so it’s not just work but also exercise, where I am in my cycle, seeing friends etc – thus keeping me balanced.

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This is a monthly check in page from my planner. The focus notes are from my Oracle card pulls and the big goals are work and life related, giving me clarity and keeping me focussed. img_5275

This is a planner that I created and trialled for January. It brings a lot of my other tools together into one place so its easy to quickly glance at and keep sight of what I should be doing and why. I’ve laminated this so that it can be used over and over again and adapted as needed.

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This is part of a monthly reflection sheet I fill in for the balance club, an online group I am a member of. I like this as its simple and pretty quick to compete. I keep all of these reflections in a folder so that its easy to refer back to and see myself making progress on various areas of my health and wellbeing over the months.

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So you can see, my health and wellbeing designs have evolved and changed, taking on influences and inspiration from other sources outside of Permaculture over the years.

I thought at this stage I should check back in on the ethics and principles of permaculture to ensure that this is still a permaculture design, not only for the purpose of passing my diploma, but also as a way of refocusing myself on permaculture and pulling it back into my life. So here we go; permaculture-principles

EARTH CARE – I try to consider earth care around how I purchase my food i.e local produce, grow my own, bulk deliveries to cut own on pollution. I try to care for and connect with the earth by walking, exercising and spending time outdoors everyday. I work outdoors teaching others all about earth care. I notice and tune into the cycles of nature, the moon and cycles with my own body. I use natural skin care products and essential oils that honor the earth rather than deplete it.

PEOPLE CARE – This is very much about self-care for me in the design and I’m not feeling guilty about that! My H&W design has self care and self-love at the core of it. I try to care for others too, by taking care of myself it makes me a better mum, wife, relative and friend to everyone around me. I am setting a good example for my children.

FAIR SHARES – I often share details with friends and family of things I’ve learnt from doing this design. I am a member of numerous online forums where we help each other, sharing advise, support and ideas. I share my skills and experience in my business. One of the primary reasons for beginning this design was that as a mum of 3, I’d put my needs last for many years to the point when I felt depleted, unhealthy and resentful. So my H&W design helped to re-address this balance and ensure I had a fair share of time and energy  directed towards myself.

I thought I’d pull 3 principles at random and reflect on how my health and wellbeing designs link in with them.

INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE – The designs and tools that I use to ensure my H&W stays on a good path are fully integrated into my life and the are integrated with each other also.

OBTAIN A YIELD – My H&W does give me lots of yields, better health, a fitter body, fantastic foods, more mindfulness, more peace, guilt free time for myself, new learning, clarity in my business, better work/life balance.

DESIGN FROM PATTERN TO DETAIL – MY H&W design does this really well I think. I have broad overarching patterns like ‘set 3 most important tasks each morning’ and ‘set monthly goals’  and ‘exercise 3 times each week’ I then fill in the detail effectively. For example today my 3 MIT’s were 1. Do my H&W update on the blog. 2. Take the kids to swimming and climbing’ 3. respond to MB booking enquiries. I add detail each Sunday about how I will fulfil my exercise 3 times each week goal, This week it was 1. swimming with the kids. 2. yoga classes. 3. Gym session and induction on the new machines

So in concluion, yes this is still a design that is in line with permaculture and it is working well for me right now. I’m very open to keep on adapting and tweaking the tools that I use to benefit my H&W over the years. I now feel I have tools on hand to help me keep my life in balance and heading in a healthy direction.

Muddy Boots garden re-design CEAP. Plan a schedule of implementation,maintenance, evaluation and tweaks.

IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

MONTH TASK DEADLINE?
February Re-measure and photograph the plot Early feb
Spend a few hours up at the allotment doing observations, sketching and planning the new layout Early feb
Sketch out a base map and play around with possible layouts of the main features Early feb
Get quotes for all building materials and decide where to source these from. Early feb
Buy building materials for fence/gate/play kitchen Half term
Take down the south wall of the existing fence and put up new one Half term
Put in the new gate and tower posts Half term
Put the new bolts on the gates By sessions start
Research mud kitchen ideas and re-do this feature End feb
Clear the movable objects from the newly enlarged space so I can see the layout more clearly End feb
March Draw out my finalised plans Early March
Tidy the shed and do a stock check. Make a list of any equip or materials I need to buy for this seasons activities. Early march
Begin saving tin cans for the allotment planters Early march
Move the sandpit End march
Buy more sand and fill it up By session start
Mark out the triangular bed Early march
Make the willow den Mid march
Cut the grass/ rake over to clear debris Mid march
Buy the marine ply board for the blackboard/ painting board/ spotted board/ welcome signs End march
Install the blackboard/ painting board etc and paint them in situ End march
Define the boundary of the strawberry bed and apple tree guild bed End march
Buy more plastic plates and another thermos flask End march
April Drill holes into the tin can planters Early april
Install the tin can planters and plant up with pansies By session start
Select, print and laminate some photos or pics of fruit/veg/flowers to decorate the picket fence. Put these up with staple gun. By session start
Mow lawns again By session start
Test out gazebos and decide which one to use Early april
Gather ground sheets, blankets etc Early april
Take home and wash and return all snack and drink utensils By session start
Buy washing up liquid, tea, coffee etc plus sponges, wash up equip By session start
Final checks before first session on April 15th By session start

CARRYING OUT THE IMPLEMENTATION

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We spent three bright and cold days at the allotment over half term. We re-made the fence line and installed a new gate leading out into the wider community allotment.

Day 1 – moving the fence and beginning to re-install it. IMG_1235IMG_1233

Day 2 – completing the fence and putting in the gate

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Day 3. Moving the blue planters, moving a cherry tree, making the triangular corner bed and beginning work on the mud kitchen.


 

The P of CEAP is for Plan a schedule of implementation, maintenance, evaluation and tweaking.

But where is the actual design bit? This seems to come up a lot for me when using Permaculture design process systems. There is lots of detail about how to prepare for producing your design, but it never actually says “now draw your design” why is this?

So I have chosen to draw my design at this point in the design process. As at this point the space was more open and I could visualise the layout more clearly. I sketched out a rough plan for the new design while at the allotment and then worked more on the design at home.

So this is the design that I feel most happy with at the moment, but I am open to making more changes as the project rolls on and the space tells me what it needs. So I’ve kept the design loose, still using pieces of paper on the base map and not drawing it out in full yet.

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UPDATE – Here is the final design drawn out and coloured in!

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and a  close up to show some of the details.

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My health and wellbeing design SURVEY

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BACKGROUND TO THE DESIGN

I have been working on a diploma design since early summer 2014 about my health and well-being. I wanted to do a design at this stage of the diploma that was about me and improving my life. I have learnt that in order to head out and make positive change in world, you first need to have your own life well-managed and running smoothly. I have also learnt that my children are only as happy as their least happy parent, so to help my household be happy, smooth and successful, any change needs to begin with myself and work outwards.

To help me begin the design process I looked at zoning in terms of my life. I used the principles involved in zoning that are normally applied to gardening. The areas you interact with most are located directly outside your backdoor, such as herb pots. Moving out in stages to places visited less regularly located further away from your house. IMG_5500

This is how I classified Zones in relation to my life; Zone 00 myself, Zone 0 my family, Zone 1 my house, Zone 2 my garden, Zone 3 my friends, Zone 4 my community and Zone 5 the wider world.

I then looked at the frequency of use for each of these zones. I also noted down all of my ideas for diploma design projects into the correct zone. Finally I wrote in the circle in pen designs I have already undertaken and in pencil ideas for designs. I wanted to ensure an even spread across all the zones to provide a balanced approach in my diploma journey.

The design I am currently working on, My health and wellbeing design,  falls into Zone 00- MYSELF. It seems important to address the centre of the circle at this stage in my diploma studies, to give me more energy to commit to other designs that I have planned for the future that will take me away from the home and out into the wider world.

I find writing up a vital part of the design process, not only does it count towards my Diploma, it also allows me to re-think over all my actions and decisions and makes the design much clearer in my mind and therefore more likely to be implemented effectively.

For this design I have been using the design process SADIMET but I have added a ‘L’ for ‘learning’, so the process acronym becomes SLADIMET. I will be writing a post on each stage of this design process over the coming weeks. Today I will be looking at SURVEY.

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When using the design web for my last design, I found Vision, Helps and Limits to be useful places to begin. I feel all three of these tools fall within the SURVEY stage, so I have used them in this design too.

VISION – To design some tools that help me to achieve my aims of losing weight, improving my fitness levels, improving my food choices and providing me with some time to devote to myself.

HELPS- I am interested in this area, I enjoy cooking and love cook books and healthy eating blogs. I have a goal in mind of my friend’s wedding in June 2015, so that gives me a year to work on and implement this design, a good timescale I think. My husband is a health-nut. He cycles everyday and is running 8 marathons during 2014. He will encourage and help me with my exercising. He is supportive with the children. My brother and sister and both pretty healthy too, so I have plenty of people to discuss ideas with. My oldest friend is a nutritionist and currently on maternity leave, so she should have some time to advise me. The Eat Smile Live course I have signed up for should be very helpful and the FB forums another support network I can use.

LIMITS- I have a limited amount of free time each week to spend away from home exercising. I do not have much money to spend on this design, so for example joining a gym is not possible. I want any food related changes to be suitable for the whole family, I am not willing to cook multiple meals each day. The kids can be fussy eaters and may be unwilling to try unfamiliar foods. I am breast-feeding so can’t take a big cut in my calorie level. I love food and am not interested in a ‘diet’ that is about restriction or meal replacement. It has to be truly healthy to work for me. I must have goals to aim for to help with will-power. Any options taken have to fit with the Permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair shares.

SURVEY – I began the design in May 2014. I focus me and assist the design process I signed up to take part in ‘Eat, Smile, Live’ nutrition and lifestyle coaching 6 month plan. I completed a thorough health history, looking at my baseline weight, measurements, food diary and exercise levels,  health concerns and desired outcomes.

To briefly summarise the health history, I was 15 months post-natal with my third child.  11 stone eight pounds, breast-feeding and woken up 2-3 times each night, feeling tired, not exercising and feeling unfit. My diet was vegetarian, around 60% home cooked with 1 meal out and 1-2 take aways per week. I struggled to find time for cooking in the evenings. I drank 3-4 black coffees per weeks and lots of cups of decaf tea with sugar each day. I craved chocolate and salty curries. I drank alcohol 3 to 4 times per week, usually red wine or real ale. I enjoyed swimming and yoga but couldn’t fit these into my life. I wanted to make changes.

I set myself four goals to address;

1. To learn about nutrition and healthy foods for myself and my family

2. To exercise and improve my fitness levels

3. To lose the excess baby weight

4. To take time out for myself without feeling guilty

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My garden design – Evaluation 2014

I shared one of my Permaculture designs on this blog in the spring. It was a redesign of the food growing spaces in my back garden with the aim of providing us with something to eat on four days out of each week from May till September.  Here is a reminder of how that design looked. IMG_0953

I have also been sharing my monthly garden updates to keep track of how the garden is looking and progressing throughout the year. I am now coming to the end of the growing season and have been looking back over the design and how it worked out this year. I have looked at the garden features I had planned and the foods I had planned to grow. I have done a PNI analysis. Each item has also been graded from 10-1 with 10 being best. Items scoring under 5 will not be included in my garden for 2015 unless I can justify why they deserve a second chance!

DESIGN FEATURES POSITIVE 10-6 NEGATIVE5-0 INTERESTING
Polytunnel 0 Decided against this as the site proved unsuitable as it is too shaded by overhanging trees.
New Pond 0 Again the suggested site was too close to trees so the pond would fill with leaves each autumn. Also my children created a den behind the chicken run that required access over this area.
Stepping stones 2 I put a few in by the chicken run where I had the most trouble with mud. No other paths implemented due to lack of funds and time
Sectional chicken run 7 Works great in space b the shed, can open it up to let the hens forage behind the greenhouse too. Not used for chicken tractoring as yet, but plans to do so over this winter.
Raised beds 9 Great success, easy to make and maintain, very productive, great use of sunny part of garden, kids enjoy helping me.
Key hole beds 3 The woodchip paths rotted very quickly, the space is under trees so not great for annual veg. Difficult to access. Redesign as forest garden in 2015?
Water storage and capture 7 New tanks installed and collection off shed and overflow into pond. All functions well. However my son learnt to open the taps this summer and kept draining the tanks.
Wood store 6 Lots of wood storage spaces in garden now. We don’t need to buy in any wood this winter.
Pots on patio and deck 7 Looked lovely all summer and productive for herbs and cut flowers. However, v hot sunny position so lots of watering was required.
Table and chairs 8 New table and bench seating created out of reclaimed timber. Easy to crate seats up to 12 people. Kept on patio not lawn in the end seemed more practical option.
Grapevine 6 Great at shading deck in summer and letting in light in autumn/winter. However again it needed watering more and did not produce many grapes. They grapes that did grow were eaten by birds, but gret for birdwatching from kitchen
New lower fencing 5 I lkie it as it lets more light in and hopefully it will stand up better to winter storms. Our neighbour did not like it and put up a 6 foot fence along the remaining boundary would not consider a lower fence.
PLANTING
FRUIT
Rhubarb 5 Old plant needs dividing
Black currant 8 Loads of fruit but old bush, getting unstable
Gooseberry 6 Lots of fruit but tricky to harvest
Red currant 8 Great, need to take cuttings to start new plants as per black currants
Apple trees 6 Cooking apples was great, not loads on eating apple trees. Shared harvest with neighbours
Pear trees 4 Still establishing, spots on leaves diseased?
Blackberries 6 Were cut back hard this year so smaller harvest than normal
Raspberries 8 Good crop considering 1st year
White currant 4 Tasty but didn’t harvest many
Grapevines 5 Not too many grapes set and most lost to birds. Beautiful autumn colour
Fig 9 Fantastic, 50 ish fruits this year
Strawberries 6 Kids ate them all
Alpine strawberries 7 Spreading well
Cherry trees 6 First few cherry this year
Plum trees 4 Rubbish this year
ANNUAL VEG
Courgettes 2 Rubbish in my garden for last few years
Carrots 3 Didn’t really come to anything
Parsnips 0 Forgot to sow any
Beetroot 8 Great, ate stalks and leaves too
Raddishes 4 Ok in spring, went woody v quicky
Leeks 0 Dug up by chickens
Pumpkins 1 Lots of leafy growth but no fruit
Sweetcorns 1 Only 1 cob set! Rubbish
Cucumber 3 Didn’t do much
Mange tout 7 Great value
Broad beans 6 Good but needed more
Potatoes 6 Only had a few as take a lot of space but kids enjoyed harvest
Kale 4 Too late growing, chickens ate it
Spinach 3 Bolted v fast despite being in shade of grapevine
Lettuces 6 Great early and late in season, don;t bother in midsummer
Tomatoes 8 Great, lots of good outdoor toms, lots of work though
Peas 5 Not great this year
Chilis 9 Loads and v tasty and easy to grow
Aubergine 2 Small fruits set but none harvested
HERBS, FLOWERS AND MISC
Mint 7 Loads, need to keep in check
Edible flowers 9 Lovely and useful
Herbs in pots on patio 8 Fab
Sunflowers 6 Did ok, kids enjoyed the race
Lavendar 6 Establishing well
Calendula 9 Love it
Green manure mix 4 Didn’t do much
Sweetpeas 8 Lovely
Roses 9 Fab
Clematis 8 Lovely
Spring bulbs 6 Need more
PERENNIALS
Wild garlic 9 My fav, no effort, more each year, v useful in spring cooking
Perennial leaves patch 3 Not very successful, still needs to establish, went to seed quickly
Jerusulmn artichokes 8 Useful plant, lots of tubers but I don’t like eating them and fed to hens. Useful poles in garden.
Per.onions- various 6 First year so still at trial stage but hopeful.

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I have looked back at the five key functions I wanted my garden design to fulfil. They were; food production, attracting beneficial insects, water capture and sustainable usage, soil improvement and places to sit and enjoy the garden. 

Food production See notes above and below, the garden was pretty productive for a relatively small space and I am pleased with the amount of food i was able to produce.

Attracting beneficial insects I planted lots of flowers and herbs. I left wilderness areas and log piles. I could have concentrated more on this function but I felt the ecosystem in my garden is pretty well-balanced.

Water capture and sustainable usage New water capture and storage systems installed. See table above for details.

 Soil improvement I worked on mulching, green manure, composting and sheet mulches this year and I have started to learn what works and what does not work so well in my garden.

Places to sit and enjoy the garden. New table and bench seating created. I was gifted a bench, we made seating from timber around the firepit. I definitely enjoy my garden and would often rather hang out in my outdoor space than venture out into the wider world!

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I have looked at the food diary that I kept from May-September to see if I achieved my goal of eating something from my garden four days out of each week. Most weeks did achieve this goal, excluding those when we were away on holiday. Most harvests were small, with homegrown crops being pleasing addition to a meal rather than the bulk of what we ate. Salad crops and herbs did well as did fruit especially figs, currants and cooking apples. This is what I harvested each month.

MAY – wild garlic, parsley, lettuce, radishes, lemon verbena, mange tout, mint, lovage, eggs, pea shoots.

JUNE – Calendula, chives, beetroot stalks and leaves, onions, broad beans, basil, cucumber, nasturtiums, oregano, lettuce, raspberries, rocket, corn salad, eggs, rhubarb, strawberries, red/black/white currants, wild strawberries, gooseberries, cherries, spinach.

JULY – Broad beans, spring onions, beetroot stalks and leaves, blueberries, red/black/white currants, gooseberries, new potatoes, welsh onions, runner beans, eggs.

AUGUST – Runner beans, plums, tomatoes, chilis, figs, cucumber, courgettes, parsley, celery, purple beans, black and yellow toms, eggs.

SEPTEMBER – Figs, beetroots, courgettes, tomatoes, purple beans, blackberries, cooking apples, eating apples, raspberries, grapes, eggs, peppers, chilis, runner beans.

IMG_4924So in conclusion, my design was a great start to re-vamping the food growing areas in my garden. I have learnt a lot from this first year. All the record keeping has been manageable, enjoyable and a useful resource for me to refer back to in planning my tweaks to this design for my garden plans for 2015.

 

Diploma design for Muddy Boots- Evaluation and further thoughts on Appreciation and Reflection

The 2014 Muddy Boots season has now finished. We ended with a celebration session during which we planted bulbs to see flower next year and ate a shared lunch. We also carried out some feedback and appreciation activities. I created a photo book using images taken throughout the year to show the group. This was handed round and participants were invited to add their comments on the back-cover. IMG_4973IMG_4972IMG_4971IMG_4970

I was so touched by the wonderful comments. This is one of my favourites;

“ Muddy Boots is a huge ray of sunshine in our lives. We look forward to every session. There is so much to learn, so much to share and a lovely sense of community and sharing. I don’t know what we would do without this group”

I also asked people to add their thoughts to a group evaluation in the form of a picture. See below. This worked quite well and was more fun than yet another evaluation form. IMG_4974  

If participants had not completed the mid-point evaluation form, then I did ask them to complete one at the last session. I collected 17 forms in total and have collated the findings.

Where did you hear about the group? Emily, a friend, the FB page or the LNM FB page

Why did the group appeal to you?  location, time, ethos, values, natural outdoor play, to learn about gardening, to spend time outdoors and healthy shared snack time.

What do you/your child get out of the group? spending time together, learning about growing food, meeting like-minded parents, being outdoors, a sense of community, a relaxed atmosphere, seeing friends, learning through play, having new experiences, freedom to get dirty, space to explore, learning skills and pride in food growing, being creative, learning to care for nature. ( It was great to see so many of my key function for the group echoed in people’s experiences of attending the group)

Have you been able to help out and if so, how did you feel about being asked to do so? 8 No, 7 tea duty/ washing up, 5 pack/set up, 7 session leading. 7 happy to help out, 6 willing to help in future, 4 unable to help due to children.

Do you think the group is good value for money? All 17 said yes

Would you be wiling to pay more, how much seems fair? 1 person said £2.50, 5 said £3.00 6 said £4.00 4 said £5.00 and 1 said £5.00+

Would you be willing to travel to a different site? Is so, how far? 1 person said don’t move, 1 person said I have no transport, 1 person said yes, less than 5 miles, 7 people said around 5 miles, 1 person said more than 5 miles and 6 people were happy to follow us where ever we moved to.

Should I put a cap on numbers of families attending? 5 said no cap, 4 said cap at 10, 5 said cap at 15, 1 said cap at 20.

What have been your favourite things about Muddy Boots? Activities, planting. being outdoors, watching children play, the sandpit, growing food, meeting people, the relaxed atmosphere, the good vibes, exploring the site, learning about Permaculture.

What haven’t you liked/ what changes can you suggest? It has been too busy on occasion, need a bigger space, have a longer session, have proper mugs for tea rather than the plastic glasses, continue all year round.

What activities should I run in the future? Natural crafting, digging, nature art, mini gardens, treasure hunts, planting, songs, water/ mud play, plant identification, longer sessions, more time for free play, harvesting, stories, exploring, keeping chickens, making fires, making shelters Caterpillar/butterfly keeping, nature lanterns, nature bracelets, leaf rubbings, pumpkin carving, seasonal celebrations, mud kitchen, cooking and eating.

SO IN CONCLUSION…. people enjoy the ethos of the group, the activities and ideas behind it. They want a longer session, they are happy to move but not too far, they are happy to pay more- maybe £4-5 each session. 

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I have looked back at the 8 key functions I identified for Muddy Boots in the planning stages and reflected on how successfully they were achieved.

KEY FUNCTION WAS THIS FUNCTION ACHIEVED? EVIDENCE NOTES
To teach children about food growing I think I started to introduce ideas around this subject We planted the following; runner beans, strawberries, sunflowers, peas, courgettes, beetroot, radishes, tomatoes, peppers and herbs plus flowers and bulbs.

We harvested; much of the above list plus, cucumbers, grapes, blackberries and lettuces

The key function needed to be more specific – too general.
To inspire a love of nature and art Yes – but I do think that only parents and children who already have these interests were the people who were likely to attend this group. Art– we tried willow weaving, potato printing, hand printing, colouring in sheets, we made a beanstalk sculpture, we created food faces, we sang songs and played with instruments.

Nature – we planted seeds and bulbs, we made bird-feeders, we went on a bug hunt, we celebrated finds from the natural world each week, we played with pinecones, sand, mud and water, we learnt about animals and insects.

“Playing outdoors, getting muddy, being creative, freedom to get dirty” – we quoted as being things the attending child enjoyed most in the feedback forms.

This is really two key functions not one.
To be a safe and welcoming environment for parents and their pre-school age children Yes Safe– No accidents or injuries reported other than the normal slips and falls. One child fell off a chair once.

Welcoming– I had lots of written and verbal comments about how welcoming and friendly the group felt.

Again this is 2 key functions really.
To be a place for like-minded parents to meet and forge new friendships and networks Yes I have looked at the register and noted the following;

16 people came to only 1 session – This is a big drop off but some of these people were grandparents attending with regulars, friends from out-of-town, but also some people who just decided it was not for them.

On average we had 27 people per session – 12 adults and 16 kids.

The best attendee came 11 times out of 14

Of the top 10 attenders, the average number of sessions attended was 6 times out of 14. There was a core of 12 families who attended regularly and lots of others who dropped in and out throughout the season.

Some new friendships were forged and others re-inforced by the group. The link to LNM FB group was important, as was the formation of the MBAP FB group.

Quote from the end of season evaluation “ Muddy Boots is a huge ray of sunshine in our lives. We look forward to every session. There is so much to learn, so much to share and a lovely sence of community and sharing. I don’t know what we would do without this group”

but will these friendships and networks endure once the group ends? How can I help with that?
To keep the education space of the community allotment looking good. (I designed this space for my PDC design project in 2012) Not really There was not time factored into the sessions for general site maintainance. We did however add some lovely features like the pizza pots, tin can flowerpot and sunflowers. I had to spend extra time at the allotment to keep it looking ok and the com allot people mowed the grass etc. Positive aspect of using the com allot- is there are lots of other people to help with site upkeep. Negative aspect is I don;t feel ownership over the space.
To be a learning opportunity for myself, possibly leading onto an income generation project in future years Yes and maybe It has been a great learning opportunity and running it alongside a P design project has really helped. Yes there is a possibility of generating income from this in future years. Needs lots more thought and planning.
To be a community run group that uses and values the individual skills of the participants Yes I think this key function was met very well. I had lots of help for the more mundane jobs like setting up/ packing up/ tea duty but also six people ran sessions. There skills like music, art, baby signing and guitar playing were used and appreciated. How do I keep this community feeling while exploring the income generation potential?
For families to enjoy playing and learning together outdoors Yes Lots of positive comments along these lines in the feedback and evaluation activities.

 

A further form of feedback I have received is the post-it-note comments I gathered from the other participants on the PDC when I gave my 5 minute presentation about my design for Muddy Boots. IMG_4969

And finally I just want to share my sheet for keeping a record of who is leading each session and the topics covered. This tiny bit of design worked really well, giving flexibility in the planning and in encouraging people to sign up for jobs where they saw gaps. The sheet was A1 size and displayed on the shed during each session. IMG_4992

 

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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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