My health and wellbeing design SURVEY



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.


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





Diploma design for ‘Muddy Boots’ – Helps

IMG_1805Participants at the second Muddy Boots session 16th May 2014 (33 people came!)

I have started my ‘Muddy Boots’ allotment playgroup now, we have had two sessions to date, which were a great success. Before they began I thought about the ‘helps’ for this design, this is the second anchor point in Looby’s design web. Looby describes this stage in her book as follows;

Identify the things that are going to help… Value what you already have…identify the groups internal resources. Honor the experience of others and what they can contribute.                                                                                                                       L. Macnamara in People and Permaculture  2012

I have been considering ‘helps’ for Muddy Boots and I think these are the main five ones.

The location The allotment is a great resource for teaching children about food growing. It is run as a community allotment by a committed group of volunteers. I think Community allotments are a great idea as they spread out the responsibility for an allotment and make food growing less of a chore and more enjoyable. On my PDC I designed the education space for the allotment with Muddy Boots in mind. So the space is perfect for this group to use immediately as well as providing lots of scope for future activities.

To explore this further, I have used PASTE to analyse the helps within the location.

 PLANTS – Within the education space there are lots of strawberry plants, runner beans growing up a den structure, an apple tree planted with a guild of supportive plants, flowers in pots, a pizza pot containing tomatoes, chilis, peppers and herbs and welly boots planted up with annual flowers. The wider allotment plot contains a young forest garden and about every type of vegetable you could wish for.                                                         ANIMALS – I have seen foxes on the site, also there are chickens on other people’s plots plus the usual wide array of birds, insects and pond life.                                                       STRUCTURES – We have a large summer house type shed and another shed to store equipment. We have a gazebos. There are two polytunnels on site and a small greenhouse and another large shed. There is a toilet block and hardstanding for parking.   TOOLS – I have access to lots of children’s hand tools for gardening plus small-sized spades, rakes and folks. I have two small wheelbarrows, gloves, watering cans, art materials, compost, plant pots and a good stash of seeds.                                                  EVENTS – The education space is used by the adult gardening group too every Tuesday. The volunteers also use the paces when they have their tea breaks. The space is also used occasionally for educational workshops, events, meetings, seed/plant swaps, the allotment open day and celebration events.

My skills and experiences I have worked in arts education for many years and more recently have been gaining experience in environmental education. I have skills in teaching, project and event management and leading workshops. I am keen to further my skills in these areas, so taking on Muddy Boots as one of my Diploma projects seems to be paving the way for a possible future career path once my children get a little older.

Materials and resources from previous years I have been gifted lots of resources from the previous two years of Muddy Boots sessions. When Vicky left her post she ensured we had lots of the ‘stuff’ we needed to carry on the group without being out-of-pocket.There is a shed we can store everything in, children’s tools, some seeds, some books, tea making facilities, hand washing stuff, a first aid kit etc.

Freedom  As I am taking this on in a voluntary capacity, I am free from the constrains of being under a certain business or organisation. I am free to steer the ship how I (and the participants) wish to. We have a lot of freedom as long as we abide by the rules of the allotment society and follow the H&S rules set by the insurance provided by TCV.

The participants The group of parents and children attending sessions tends to ebb and flow throughout the seasons, with a few families forming a core group. Amongst these people there are many skills, ideas and experiences. I wanted to harness these wide-anging skills and encourage them to help with the group as much as people felt willing or able to. To gather information from the participants I designed a set of four questions based on ones in Looby’s book. ‘People and Permaculture’ Looby mentioned ‘gains and gives’ and I added grins and groans. I drew up these questions onto large sheets of card and asked the group to note down their thoughts in a type of brainstorm. I started this activity when I saw some members of the group at a spring lunch at the allotment. I continued it during the first Muddy Boots session on 2nd May.


Gains – What do people want to get out of the group? I was hoping that comments here would help with my planning and give something to measure successes against. Comments showed that people wanted opportunities for messy play, a chance to meet like-minded parents and for their children (and themselves) to socialize. They also wanted to be outdoors with their children and to be inspired by food growing activities that they could replicate in their own homes and gardens.


Gives– I wanted to find out what people were willing to contribute towards the group; time, skills, leadership, plants, seeds, toys, money, ideas etc. I am really pleased that to date, four parents have offered to run sessions. People have also offered to donate plants, seeds, compost and their time in setting up and packing away. I have also had help with tea and coffee-making, washing up and everyone seems very happy to contribute towards the shared snack time. We ask for a small financial donation towards each session. £2.00 for 1 child and £1 for each additional child is suggested. This goes towards running costs and materials. I actually think we could put up this charge next year to make the group more sustainable in the longer term.


Groans – What didn’t people particularly like? What could we tweak or change? What wasted time, energy or resources? I found people were very unwilling to write on this one! The only comments were that maybe we should cancel if its rainy, people would like to plant more seeds and they disliked having to travel to the session ( a few families come from quite a distance) I have a few comments of my own to add here but will wait until my next post on the anchor post ‘Limits’


Grins- This asked what were people’s favourite things about muddy boots, what were the most successful activities last year and what the kids enjoyed the most. I got lots of comments here. People liked letting their kids get messy, they loved the relaxed, safe, inspiring and welcoming outdoor environment. They liked sharing food, harvesting food and flowers and story time was popular too.

The four g’s activity was successful and a great starting point for my planning. The only criticism was that people were very new to the group and so quite shy about expressing opinions, particularly criticisms or anything negative. This was slightly frustrating for me, as I actively waned to hear what people didn’t like so that I could change it! Maybe a more private type of feedback would have led to more involvement?