Influences March – Oct 2014

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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.

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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.

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Diploma design for ‘Muddy Boots’ – Vision

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The first anchor point on the design web is VISION.

 ‘Allow yourself to dream and create goals …a time of unbounded dreaming, to express the abundances we want to create… focus on where we want to be and not have to think about how to get there’                                                                            L. Macnamara in People and Permaculture  2012

I had a day to myself recently at our cabin in the woods and spent some time thinking about how I would like Muddy Boots to be. The brainstorm below shows some of my initial thoughts I used this process like a Client interview with myself.

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I found it really hard to go with the ‘unbounded dreaming’ thing and was rather caught up in the reality of what is actually achievable. But I have given it a go, starting from 7 main aims and trying to blow them up a little as shown below.

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I then used Six thinking hats design tool to address my thoughts from the client interview from different perspectives. I looked at Information, benefits, caution, creativity, emotion and process. I found this a very useful tool at it allowed me to express aspects of my thinking that I would probably not normally acknowledge. For example, ‘caution’ forces you to think of what could go wrong. It is useful to express these worries! This then leads naturally on to possible solutions or reassurances that your worries are unfounded. The ‘information’ prompt is also useful as it acts in much the same way as the ‘observation’ phase would if I was using OBREDIMET. This gives background to how the project is now and looks at what foundations are already in place to be built upon.

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Muddy Boots – Looby’s design web

The design that I am working on at the moment is for ‘Muddy Boots’ an outdoor playgroup based at my local community allotment. My sister and I set up this group two years ago as a way of encouraging pre-school children and their parents to play outdoors and get involved in growing their own food. The group ran quite successfully while my sister was in post at TCV and she had some funded hours to devote to managing the group. Her contract at TCV has now come to an end and rather than lose such a lovely activity and great network of parents, I have decided to take it on as a volunteer.I have secured permission to continue using the allotment site and children’s tools, which is fantastic. I have also been given the paperwork from previous years and contacts for the parents who still wish to be informed about the group’s activities.

My design will be about how to make this group run sustainably and how to engage the parents in helping to manage this process. I have decided to use Looby Macnamara’s Design web as the design process for this project.

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The design web is from Looby’s book People and Permaculture I found it to be a great read and very helpful in reflecting on relationships with other people and working with groups. I expect I shall refer to it many times throughout the process of working on this design.

The web can be used in a circular motion or you can dot around as you see fit. As it is my first time using the web, I intend to work around the circle in order in a clockwise motion, Starting with VISION. My next post will look at my vision for Muddy Boots.

My PDC design

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In 2012 I did a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) These courses, which are run all over the world, introduce the concepts central to Permaculture. I found the course that I attended ever so inspiring. Courses are run over an intensive two-week residential course or as 12 separate days. My course was on one weekend per month from January till June. This suited me well as it fitted in with family life and gave lots of time for additional study around the sessions.

One of the requirements of the course is that you complete a design and present it to your peers. This process is guided by your tutor and structured around a Permaculture design process. I used OBREDIMET.

The images below show the processes I used and the plan for the final design. I chose to design an education space for the community allotment that I am involved with. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and created a design that was actually implemented. It was an exciting project and great to see my ideas come to life. This inspired me to go on to further study and consequently the Diploma in applied Permaculture design that I am currently working on.

I have decided to post about this design now, as I am just picking up this design again two years down the line. I hope to implement more elements of the design this spring and summer. The garden of the community allotment is the location in which ‘Muddy Boots’ outdoor playgroup is held. I mentioned this play group in this previous post Muddy Boots The running of this playgroup is the focus of my next Permaculture design for my diploma. I intend to crack on with writing up this design over the next few weeks and months. IMG_1446IMG_1447IMG_1448IMG_1449IMG_1451IMG_1452IMG_1453IMG_1454IMG_1455IMG_1456IMG_1457IMG_1458IMG_1459

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Twelve Principles for twelve months – April – Integrate rather than segregate

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This month I will be reflecting on the Permaculture Principle ‘Integrate rather than segregate’. April is likely to be a busy month for me in the garden and the kids will be at home for two weeks enjoying their Easter holidays. So with that in mind, I am not going to try to do too much this month. I want to look more into Companion planting and Guilds and use these great techniques in my garden planning and planting.

I want to ensure that my Permaculture diploma designs are fully integrated into my life and relevant to the activities I am involved in and the projects I want to achieve. My next design will on the outdoor play-group ‘Muddy Boots’ that I am involved in running. This year I will be taking the reins and steering the project by myself. I am planning on using Permaculture to help me to set up and manage the group. I want the participants to assist with how the group operates, so I will be using Looby Macnamara’s book ‘People and Permaculture’ to help me facilitate this.

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My principle for March was ‘Catch and store energy’ I only managed to fulfil two of my four aims linked to this principle. Wood was chopped and stored for the winter and the water catchment systems implemented. I didn’t get a chance to look into solar or wind power for the cabin. I will come back to this at a later date. As for watching how my energy levels changed and where I wasted energy, well, I just didn’t have the energy to address this one!

Muddy Boots

Eighteen months ago my sister and I had the opportunity to set up a playgroup on a local allotment site. Part of her job involves managing a community allotment and encouraging local community participation. We thought it would be fun to organise something that encouraged parents and pre-school children to play together in an outdoor setting, using natural materials and observing the seasons. So ‘Muddy Boots’ was created. We have met now for two years, twice a month from Easter to fireworks nights. We had our last session for this year on Friday. Our theme was pumpkins. IMG_6748

We had a story on the theme then the children went on a hunt around the allotment site for a pumpkin each which we picked and did activities with. We carved them, played with the seeds, drew on them, made pumpkin masks and did pumpkin ten-pin bowling! Each session ends with songs and a feast of fruit and veg to share. This is brought in by the participants and collected from the allotment. Our group is well attended, normally we have between 10 and 25 families (dependant on weather) with a ‘hard-core’ of six families who always brave it. We ask for a small donation to cover materials and resources and a hot drink, squash or water.

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It has been a great thing to be involved with. I have met some like-minded parents who, like me want an occasional alternative to yet another playgroup in a church hall filled with plastic toys! We are hoping to continue running the group next spring, but my sister’s contract comes to an end in March, so we are currently unsure if we will have permission to use the community allotment site. Finger’s crossed!

When I did my PDC last year, my design was based on developing an education space in the community allotment for Muddy boots and other groups to use. I will post the design and photos here soon. I feel that the ethos of ‘Muddy Boots’ fits well with the ethics of Permaculture; Earth care, People care and Fair shares.

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