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.


 

Twelve Principles for twelve months – an update

Throughout 2015 I will be looking at Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Principles.           I have allocated one principle per month at random. I will aim to find a relevant image, some quotations around the subject, some possible applications and a challenge for myself that relates to the Principle and the Permaculture activity I am involved in at that time.

IMG_9734This photos shows a rainbow chard plant growing in my garden. It stays vibrant for months, the ruby-red colour shine out and draws my eye every time I walk past. I love the parallels in appearance with a tree. if you look carefully you can imagine the stem and branches. The stem is like permaculture principles, keeping us strong and nourished in all that we do.

Oh my goodness, I have been so rubbish at sticking to this aim. The last time I blogged on this subject was back in June. So here is an update about what I have done and what I should have done…

July and August. I allocated two months over the summer to look at the attitudinal principles; for example, ‘everything gardens’ ‘Yield is limited only by the imagination of the gardener’ and ‘the problem is the solution’ I confess that I skived off. I decided to take time off, concentrate only on vital tasks and enjoy time with my family. So I will return to these principles next year.

September. Each element performs many functions. 

October. Each function is supported by many elements. 

Quotations

“Each element in the system should be chosen and placed so that it performs as many functions as possible. Use relative location so elements with diverse functions have their qualities perpetuated” treeyopermacultureedu.wordpress.com

“In a permaculture design, each element has many functions, the minimum being three. Having three or more functions helps create a stable and diverse food growing system because each element is connected together, making energy cycle through the system rather than being lost as wastes, i.e. food production can be connected to animal husbandry, composting, useful structures etc… This diverse food growing ecosystem is the opposite to a monoculture which only has one yield and is of little or no benefit to the surrounding eco-system.” http://www.permaculture.co.uk

“In a sustainable design, important functions are supported by more than one element. The more elements there are to support an individual function, the more stable and safe the overall system will be in the event of any one element failing” http://www.permaculture.co.uk

 

Application 

I looked at these two principles together as they are like two sides of one coin. I thought about my career path and how linked or otherwise the elements of it were. I looked at the functions of my career, what it does, (makes an income and gives me fulfillment) Then I looked at the elements, all the separate activities that I do. (Studying, teaching, training etc) I draw lines to link up these areas and created this crazy scribble below! In Permaculture we call it a ‘web of connections’ I discovered that all separate elements of my career are all very interlinked. I think this gives me meaning, cohesion and resilience. Pretty good I thought!

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Challenge

October is almost over so I will not be setting myself a challenge this month. I will however aim to complete this project over the coming months. In November I am looking at ‘Use biological resources’ and December will be ‘Small scale intensive systems’

 

Twelve Principles for twelve months – June -Relative location

Throughout 2015 I will be looking at Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Principles.           I have allocated one principle per month at random. I will aim to find a relevant image, some quotations around the subject, some possible applications and a challenge for myself that relates to the Principle and the Permaculture activity I am involved in at that time. June – Relative location

IMG_2167This image shows the importance of relative location in gardening terms. By placing my seedlings close to the chicken pen, I walk past them twice at day at least and can easily see which need watering, potting on or rescuing from a snail!

QUOTATIONS

The core of permaculture is design, and design is a connection between things             Bill Mollison

Relative Location dictates the need for elements to be arranged so they can create functional interconnections.  It is wonderful for a landscape to contain numerous elements such as pond, chickens, and trees, but if these elements do not interrelate in a beneficial way then we have not designed properly.                 treeyopermacultureedu.wordpress.com

In Permaculture our primary concern is with the relationship between things, and how they interact, rather than with the things themselves. So, in Permaculture design, we focus on the connection between things, and by understanding the nature of the elements, and how they benefit each other, we can determine the optimum location for them. http://deepgreenpermaculture.com

APPLICATION

Putting the right thing in the right place should be applied in all areas of people’s lives. Placing the tea bags and the mugs close to the kettle is one obvious application, as it having your herb pot just outside the backdoor. Relative location is a very important part of Permaculture design. Once you have decided on the elements you want to use, then consider the ways in which they connect together and how you could place them to make the greatest number of positive connections. I like to make a ‘web of connections’ as shown in the photo below. This example ended up begin rather too complicated, but you can get the general idea of how it works.

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CHALLENGE

My challenge this month is to continue planting up my summer garden, considering where I place the plants and trying to make useful connections between them. For example. I have just one raised bed left to plant up now. Until yesterday it had the chicken run over it, I designed this to fit perfectly over the raised beds. Our broody hen, Aggie and her chicks have spent the last 6 weeks on this bed, turning over the soil and adding their manure to it. The chicks are now big enough to join their cousins in the main run and the bed is ready for planting into! Lots of useful connections made there in the placement of elements of my garden design. IMG_6246Here they are at about 1 week old. They are much bigger and beautifully feathered now.

My second challenge is to spend some time thinking about where in the house I work. We don’t have a spare room, so I work from home at the family computer in the living room. This works well if everyone else is out of the house, but more often than not I am trying to squeeze in moments to work while wrangling three kids. As I am sure you can imaging, interruptions are many and varied! My piles of papers get knocked over and used for paper aeroplanes or drawing of cats. The computer is pressed into action to watch Ceebies or Netflix and I am generally very frustrated with the situation.

Something needs to change and fast! I need a cheap ( ideally free) solution that still allows me to make useful connections with family life, but have a little more peace and quiet to work. Ideally I’d love to buy/build a summer-house and pop it into the garden to work in. But for the time-being it’s probably going to be a solution more like shifting the furniture around. I will keep on pondering on this problems this month and post again if I find a good solution.