Twelve Principles for twelve months – April – Accelerate succession and evolution

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. April – Accelerate succession and evolution 

IMG_0930

This image show wild garlic appearing this month in my garden. I have tried to use ideas I have learnt about Forest gardens and use edible plants that have similar traits to ‘pioneer plants’ or weeds. These plants are happy to grow in poor soil or neglected areas of my garden, they look after themselves and still provide me with a yield. Weeds are often the first plants to appear in the evolution of a garden. They enrich the soil and eventually make it more inhabitable for other more desirable plants.

This Principle is quite a difficult one, and one that does not really appear in any form in the 12 Holmgren principles. So I thought I would begin by defining the terms and under the ‘application’ heading I will considering what they could mean for my Permaculture journey.

Accelerate – To speed up

Succession –  The act or process of following in order or sequence.

Evolution – The gradual development of something.

So basically this principle is saying that we should seek to find ways in which to speed up the changes which naturally occur in a system and ensure that these changes are positive.

QUOTATIONS

Accelerate Succession and Evolution: direct plants, animals, and soil life towards complexity and diversity to build our own climax species in a shorter time, forward your agriculture systems to more permanence, whether it is a grassland or a food forest. Utilize invasive species to your advantage; substitute your own pioneers and climax species that have multiple functions.                             Bill Mollison ‘Introduction to Permaculture’

Bill Mollison offered four objectives for fulfilling this principles in our design and management work

  • Using what is already growing
  • Introduce plants that will easily survive
  • Raising organic levels artificially
  • Substituting our own herb, pioneer, and climax species

APPLICATION

I use this principle in my garden by observing which weeds grow well in which areas, then substituting them for similar plants that I have a use for. This speeds up the process of experimentation by ensuring the right plant ends up in the right place by following natures blueprint.

I am also using this principle in my career. I am trying to speed up the evolution of my career by a number of related processes;

1. Linking disparate areas that I am working on and stacking their functions. For example, my Forest schools training course requires me to plan, run and reflect on six practical sessions. This process can be written up as part of my Permaculture diploma as well for my FS training. These six sessions may be used as my Muddy Boots autumn season.

2. Seeking volunteering opportunities for Permaculture teaching and Forest school leadership. This helps me to network effectively, furthers my knowledge and practical experiences as well as being worthwhile activity that counts towards my courses.

3. Using Permaculture principles and techniques in the planning of Muddy Boots allotment playgroup. Also using new skills and ideas learnt in FS training in these session. This improves my environmental education practice and gives me a chance to test out idea for my FS assessment.

CHALLENGE

I can see this principle at work in the way my tutor Hannah Thorogood manages the PDC that I help out on. Year 1- people attend the PDC. Year 2 -people are encouraged to attend the course for a second time and help out around the edges, making tea, talking with participants etc. Year 3 – people are encouraged to take a more active role n the publicity and facilitation of the course and lead some aspects of the morning circle. Year 4- people are encouraged to facilitate the course or take a Permaculture teacher training course and lead some sessions. Year 5 – Hannah steps away to lead PDC’s elsewhere and the local course is self-sustainable and led by previous participants. We are in year 4 here and this example of evolution seems to be working quite well. We have a planning meeting next month to discuss how the PDC will work in years to come and to decide who wants to teach which areas of the course.

So my challenge this month is to really think about what I want my involvement in the local PDC to be. Do I want to do the TOT and train to teach PDC’s in the future? Do I want to write my own PDC aimed at children/teenagers/family groups? Do I want to investigate accreditation for PDC courses with a view to including them in school curriculums? Lots to think about here.

IMG_1689

And finally this image shows how I ‘Accelerate succession and evolution’ in my flock of chickens, by buying in fertile eggs from breeds I am interested in and choosing the best broody hens to sit on the eggs and care for the chicks. This is one of last years chicks, in another 10 days we should be hearing the ‘Peep’ of new little chicks hatching out!

Happy Easter!  

 

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

IMG_4880

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

IMG_4852 IMG_4855 IMG_4859 IMG_4861 IMG_4865 IMG_4867 IMG_4870 IMG_4873 IMG_4877 IMG_4881

Influences March – Oct 2014

IMG_2656

I intend to do a 6 monthly ‘Influences’ post, in October and April. Since my last post in April, I have been mainly focussing on two Diploma design, Muddy Boots Allotment Playgroup and my health and nutrition diploma design probably to be called The Wolf Run Challenge. So a lot of my influences have been to do with working with community groups  or health and nutrition.

COURSES, WORKSHOPS AND EVENTS

I continue to attend the Leicester PDC every month. I have been participating in the reflection and planning meetings for these sessions too. I have led aspects of the morning circle most months. I have tried to make my contributions fun, informative and enjoyable. I have certainly enjoyed being involved in this way and I feel quite confident talking in-front of the group.

I had a phone tutorial with my tutor Hannah Thorogood in May and attended a one day course with her in April about developing a poly-income. I am due to see Hannah again before Christmas for a design support tutorial.

I attended a ‘Forest Gardens for Forest Schools practitioners’ one day course in September as detailed in my previous blog post. sarah house

I attended numerous workshops over two days at the Permaculture Convergence in September. I especially enjoyed ‘Vegan permaculture?’ led by Graham Burnett, ‘Mindfulness in permaculture’ and I watched Jan Martin’s diploma accreditation event which was very useful as it was the first accreditation I had seen. IMG_4223

GUILDS 

I still have not settled into a permanent guild which is an ongoing challenge. I have however been guilding at the PDC sessions with Ann, Dani and Sam. This has been great. We have tried to set other dates independent of the PDC along with Reevsie and Ellen too, but so far we are failing miserably to find suitable times and dates to get together.

I have been using the 4 questions with my husband and in my own reflections.

PLACES VISITED 

I visited The Eden Project while on holiday in Cornwall in August, actually we enjoyed it so much, we went twice in a week! I took lots of photographs so will do a post about this visit soon. It was very heartwarming to see so many people there, all learning about gardening and sustainability while enjoying a family day out!

I visited The Lost gardens of Heligan. I have read a few books about the re-discovering and restoration of Heligan, so it was lovely to see this special place for myself. I was very impressed with the outdoor education facilities. There was a den making activity laid on. Poles, ropes, groundsheets and tarpaulins were provided and families were encouraged to build their own shelter. My children loved this. It was made especially magical due to a freak rainstorm that lashed down just as we completed our den. We took shelter and ate our packed lunch in the den. The kids were in heaven!

I have paid numerous visits to my local botanical gardens. They were the venue for a few of the PDC sessions and I have returned throughout the summer to stroll around, play with the kids and make use of the tea rooms. It is interesting to visit with my brother, he has recently done a RHS Horticulture course and has learnt lots of latin names of plants and trees, so he loves to educate me as we wander around!

ONLINE LEARNING

I continue to use the Permaculture Diploma Facebook group. I have posted various questions and problems there and been astounded by the time and love shown by people in their thoughtful responses.

I have created a Facebook page for Muddy Boots which I update with text and images after each session. I also use this to communicate with group members and promote each session.

Probably my biggest influence from June onwards has been through my participation in the Eat Smile Live community coaching health and nutrition six month plan. I receive frequent emails and you-tube videos teaching me about different aspects of healthy lifestyles focussing on eating a balanced whole foods diet. There is a lively online community attached to the course too via Facebook which is a fantastic resource. I have been signposts to lots of other blogs and websites for inspiration too.

IMG_4690

BOOKS AND MAGAZINES

IMG_4688 People and permaculture has been my bible while working on my Muddy Boots design.

IMG_4689I brought Looby’s new book at the Convergence and read it all quickly the following week!

IMG_2654I am always looking for ways to simplify my life and the clutter that rules my household. This book is one I return to time and again for guidance and inspiration.

IMG_2653I try to protect my children from the negative influences of the modern world as much as possible while they are so young. It is not an easy task.

IMG_2652I really want to train as a forest schools teacher. Please universe, show me how this would be possible!

IMG_2651Fantastic cookbook used as the main reference book for my Eat Smile Live course.

IMG_2650IMG_2649IMG_2647More inspiration from the local library

IMG_2655This book was interesting as it talked about the importance of HOW you eat rather than WHAT you eat. Lots in here about slowing down and mindfulness, which currently interests me a lot.

IMG_4687IMG_4686My backcopies of Permaculture magazine, along with Country living and the Green Parent continue to be a source of inspiration. My husband would love me to get rid of them, but I say no! They are a useful resource and I genuinely do refer back to the quite often for ideas for planting, cooking, natural parenting and seasonal celebrations.

Diploma design for Muddy Boots – Action

Make a plan for getting things done… What am I going to do and when? What resources, skills, materials, information do I need? What yields and benefits am I going to get? What is the timescale for these yields?           L. Macnamara People and Permaculture 2012IMG_4373I see this anchor point of the Design Web as the ‘Design’ bit. This is the equivalent of producing a beautifully drawn garden plan. This is where I pull together all the learning that I have gathered in so far and attempt to produce some sort of coherent plan that I can follow.

I thought it would be useful to re-clarify here why I am doing a design for the group and what I want the design to do.

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 timescales. 

 

So here it is! It needs work IT REALLY DOES NEED WORK! But the photo shows the rough outline of the design. Each stage of activity is given a title and then a series of questions to provoke thought and/or activity. Examples below.

IMG_8190

IMG_4584Each stage is currently shown on a separate scrap of paper. The stages flow into each other, rather like different branches of a tree or paths that a river may take. I need to spend some time thinking about just how the design will be presented. It is currently very cumbersome and confusing. I was thinking maybe a webpage where you click each title and it opens up to the questions and links onwards to the next questions? However, I do not currently have the IT skills for this. So maybe a board with titles that flip-up to reveal the questions underneath? Or maybe a flow diagram that you can use at the level of ‘pattern’ or ‘detail’ dependant on the users needs?

So as I said, it needs more work but I am very pleased to have put the bare bones into place. I am meeting with Hannah Thorogood, my diploma tutor next week, so it will be good to talk it over with her and see what ideas we can come up with for presentation of this design.

I will update this Anchor point when I have made some more progress!

 UPDATE Thursday 16th october

I have thinking, writing and drawing lots for the Action anchor point over the last few weeks. I have been trying to find a way of depicting all the stage of action that is pleasing to look at, not too wordy and make sense. Below are some of my ideas. IMG_4696 IMG_4698IMG_4697IMG_4695

I am most happy with the idea below, the tree image links to both the action learning cycle and the design web. It also links to the cycle of the year, which was one of the natural patterns that I tried to follow throughout my Muddy Boots design. Each seasonal section flaps open to reveal all the activity required at each stage of the design.

I have to present this design at the final PDC session in 10 days time, it will be good to get some feedback on it then. I would also be interested to hear what you think blog readers! Please feel free to comment.

IMG_4693IMG_4694

Twelve Principles for twelve months – October – Apply self regulation and accept feedback

IMG_4274

I intend to use ‘Apply self regulation and accept feedback’ in the following ways;

1. Go back to the ‘Food from my garden’ design. Check in with the goals I set myself and review progress. Accept feedback from my garden about what grew well and what didn’t and which goals were met and which were not and why. Use this learning to make tweaks to my planting plan for 2015.

2. I have a design support tutorial booked with my tutor Hannah Thorogood in early October. At this I will receive feedback on my Muddy Boots design work (assuming I can get the reminder of it written up in time) I also hope to talk to Hannah about my new design ‘The Wolf Run challenge’

3. My final Muddy Boots session is on October 31st. I will be requesting feedback from participants to review how this season has worked and to help me with making changes to the design for 2015. I am hoping to turn MB into a small business, so I want to compile lots of info about how far people would be willing to travel, how much they would pay, how often they would like to meet etc.

4. I have just had a fabulous day attending a ‘Forest gardens for forest schools practitioners’ workshop led by a friend from my PDC Sarah Spencer (post about this to come asap) My role was multifaceted. As well as being a participant, I also scribed for Sarah, documented the day photographically and provided feedback on each session she ran. Sarah is using the workshop as one of her diploma design, so my feedback was important in helping her to reflect upon the day and make tweaks.

5. The PDC I have been volunteering at in Leicester comes to an end this month. The final session sees all participants and helpers present for five minutes about a design they have been working on. I am going to present too, either my Muddy Boots design or ‘The wolf run challenge’ (more about this coming soon) This will give me the opportunity to both receive feedback from the group about my own design and provide feedback on the designs of others.