Muddy Boots garden re-design. CEAP. Apply Permaculture principles.

Apply Permaculture principles

I did the chart shown in the photo below. I looked at of my most likely design elements in relation to how they fitted with Permaculture ethics, 6 chosen principles, cost, time and practicality. This helped me to weed out ideas that were unethical or just too time/money consuming. It helped me to make decisions and left me with a refined list of elements to include in my design.

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Boundary – picket fencing with blackboard and pallet bug hotel and vertical planting.

Gardening – in low raised beds along the south and east edges next to the boundary.           An area marked off for individual square foot gardens.                                                            A key hole bed created around the current strawberry patch

Bringing people together – Keep the current gazeebo, chairs and blankets arrangement but consider moving this to elsewhere in the site to create the best use of space

Free play – Create a multi-functional playspace out of pallets and fence posts                        Make a new larger willow and hazel living den structure

Task led play– Refresh the play kitchen and sand pit. Add a mud pit. Consider where to place these. Add a waterplay area and a waterbut of hose pipe. Ensure the water run off it put to good use.


I then began designing by drawing out the key features to scale on post-it notes and moving them around on my base map. This was a very useful, simple and time effective way of trying out lots of ideas. I am not sure that any of these designs are quite right yet. I need to spent time in the space once the fencing is done and think hard about how people will move around the garden.

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Muddy Boots garden re-design. CEAP. Evaluate the information.

Evaluate the information

To evaluate the information I have collected I used the following Permaculture design tools; functions and elements; links between elements, random assembly, key functions and setting SMART goals.

I thought about the key functions for the space and what elements could be use to fulfil these functions. I also looked at how the elements could work together. I tried really hard to stand back and think about functions first rather than deciding immediately on the specific element. This helped me to consider things in a new way, for example; Boundary markers (rather than fencing)

I researched picket fencing prices and thought about what I could afford. I worked out that to buy new picket fencing, fence posts and post mix would cost me around £140. Which seemed like a big chunk out of my budget. So I also thought about alternatives to fencing, such as using repurposed pallets, planting raspberry bushes and other edibles to mark boundaries or including a blackboard in the boundary. I really like the idea of the boundary fulfilling more than one function in my design, so I think I will probably mix and match some of these ideas with more traditional fencing.

At this point I was starting to get a clearer idea of what to include in my design. Please ignore the toddler scribble on the second photo below!

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I narrowed my selection down to the elements that I most wanted in my design and wrote these down on pieces of paper. I then began to think about where elements should be located in relation to each other. I used the design tool of random assembly here. Initially I felt a bit sceptical about the usefulness of this design tool, but actually it brought to light some interesting possible combinations and drew great pictures in my minds-eye.

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These were my favourite ideas that came out of using random assembly. IMG_0807

I thought more about the elements and functions that I wanted to include in my design and came up with 5 groupings or key functions that seemed to make sense as shown in the photo below. Certain elements needed to be in two groups, these are shown in orange pen. For example, the vertical planting could form part of the boundary but is also a gardening task. Also the den could be a good place in which to group people together and its also a great resource for free-play.

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This flow-diagram was also useful in ensuring that each of my important functions were supported by multiple elements. I did more work on this below.

FUNCTION                                                                   ELEMENTS

Boundary to define the area and keep kids safe    Picket fencing                                                                                                                               vertical planting                                                                                                                           blackboard and signage                                                                                                               Bug hotel

Space for children to do gardening                          Raised bed                                                                                                                                    Boundary beds                                                                                                                              Key-hole or square foot garden                                                                                                  Digging area and access to tools

Bringing people together                                         Seating area                                                                                                                                  Gazeebo /den/ circle time space                                                                                                  Flexible activity space/ tables                                                                                                      Food and drink area

Activities to inspire free-play                                  Pallet playspace                                                                                                                            Loose parts storage                                                                                                                      Role play-space                                                                                                                            Dens

Specific task play                                                     Play kitchen                                                                                                                                   Sand pit/ mud pit                                                                                                                         Waterplay

I set some SMART goals.

  1. For the redesign to be completed and implemented by Mid April.
  2. For all costs to come in at under £300
  3. To enlarge the space to allow at least five more families to attend to each session
  4. To make better use of the space and create a logical flow of activity
  5. To add three new features to the current layout
  6. To improve the current sand pit, play kitchen and den

 

 

Muddy Boots garden re-design. CEAP. Collect site information.

Design Project overview

At the moment I am re-designing the area of the community allotment where I run Muddy Boots Allotment Playgroup. We were lucky enough to be awarded £250 from a local funding body at the end of last year. I have managed to squirrel away most of this money and plan on putting it towards physical improvements and enlargements to the space.

My Muddy Boots group is entering its 5th year now, but its only really the 2nd year that I have ran it as a businness with the aim to make money and for it to be my career rather than a hobby. So this year I hope to enlarge the space to be able to fit in more people and to run twice the amount of sessions.

The aim of this Permaculture Diploma design is to enlarge the fenced-in area and re-design the space where the group meets. I initally designed the space as the project I undertook as part of my PDC back in 2012. You can view the original design and process here. My PDC design.

I have decided to use the process C.E.A.P to structure my design. This design process has been chosen for two reasons, firstly because I’ve not used it before and secondly because it seems quite quick and easy compared to other design processes. I need this design process to happen quickly due to a deadline of mid April for the changes to be implimented by when the group begins meeting for our Spring season.

CEAP                                                                                                                                                     Collect site information
Evaluate the information
Apply Permaculture principles
Plan a schedule of implementation, maintenance, evaluation and tweaking


Collect site information

To collect site information I used the following Permaculture tools; meeting with relevant people, observed and measured the space, drew a base map, did a client interview, thought about boundaries and resources, did some wild designing, thought about functions and elements, looked at zones and sectors and took observational photographs.

In October 2015 I had a meeting with Sue, the lead volunteer gardener for the community allotment and we discussed my plans for extention and redesign. She gave me the go-ahead to proceed with the proviso that I do all the implementation and general maintainance myself or with members of my group. I am lucky that Sue is also involved in Permaculture and is very supportive, even if some of the other allotment gardeners have not always been so happy to have a large group of toddlers and children rampaging around their patch!

I measured up the space and drew a rough map showing sizes. I considered how much additional space I would need and where this could be located on adjoining land to make the best use of the plot. This showed me how much additional fencing I would need to purchase. I measured up the existing fencing to try to match fencing for the new area.

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I did a client interview with myself as client to really focus in on why I wanted to do this redesign and what I wanted the outcomes to be. I thought about functions of the space, what my boundaries and resources were.

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I looked in more detail at my boundaries and resources;

Boundaries. The main boundaries are time, money, energy and skills.

Time I have about 10 weeks currently till the site needs to be ready (early feb – mid april) I can devote a few weekends and a few thursdays to implementing the design.

Money I have £250 funding plus £50 saved from last years takings, so a total of £300 available to cover all expenses. This must include plants, seeds, compost and this years resources I need to buy in advance.

Energy I have some time put aside to devote to the design and implementation. I will have some help from my husband and can maybe suggest to the group that they can help too if they’d like to. Maybe the community allotment volunteers could do some jobs on tuesday mornings? I need to talk to Sue about this.

Skills I have very basic skills in woodworking. I am good at gardening, creative jobs and garden design. I need help with the heavy lifting and technical stuff. Lots of the jobs will require two or more people.

Resources on site that I can use in my redesign.

  • 1 wooden pallet 100 x 120 cm
  • 4 decking boards 200 x 15 cm (currently sandpit edging)
  • 4 decking boards 150 x 15 cm (currently sandpit edging)
  • 2 tractor tyres
  • 20 15cm square block paving tiles
  • 7 planks 12ft x 15cm (currently made into a raised bed)
  • Possible to prune the willow to make a den or structure
  • Various paving slabs and planks of assorted sizes

To stop myself getting too bogged down in the detail and to see the bigger picture again, I did some wild design thinking and came up with some outlandish ideas just for fun. I have had some time, space, money, help, ownership of the land then I’d love to do some or all of these crazy ideas!

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Then I brought myself back to reality and I thought about what elements were already in the space and what I wanted to keep, remove, change and add.

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Next I looked back at my original basemap drawn for the site in 2012 where I had added notes about the zones and sectors of the site. IMG_1448

These initial observations were pretty accurate, so I used this to do an updated base map showing the increased plot size and what was currently on site. The portion of the space to the left hand side of the dotted line is the new area that we will be expanding into.

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I took some more photos of the site as it is now, 3rd feb 2016 for reference and to help me with my designing.IMG_0857The new boundary will follow the existing fenceline out to almost the end of the dug bed in the middle of the picture then turn 90 degrees and meet the fence. This will enlarge the space available to me by approximately a third.

IMG_0867Looking over the existing fenceline to the area that will now be included. The area currently includes a raised bed, two barrel planters, a small cherry tree, a wire and wood fence and material storage.

IMG_0861The fencing can be reused. I will take down the fence at the east end of the plot and reuse this elsewhere. There are two sections of picket fence here 1 is 10.5 ft long and the other is 12 ft long. The fences look like they have been purchased as individual elements and constructed to fit the site. It should be possible to take them down as two pieces and then remove the fence posts or use them within my design.