South Leicester food group. Diploma design write up 3

The food group has been going well. We have sorted out the ordering system into a lovely easy to manage design now. We have just received our fourth order and the food is amazing. It’s mainly organic wholefoods. So I know that I am cooking nourishing foods for myself and my family and gradually crowding out the bad habits by having my cupboards and fridge full of the good stuff.

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I am using the OBREDIMET design system to work through this design. Today’s post will clarify the D for Design and look at the M for Maintainance, E for Evaluation and T for Tweaks. I will also do a personal reflection on this design.

DESIGNIMG_6803The photo above is a reminder of the functions we wanted the food group to serve

1. For the ordering of food from Suma to be straightforward to manage and for responsibility to be shared out amongst group members.

2. For the delivery be easy to receive and manageable to divide up on delivery day.

3. For us to meet up regularly (once a month?) to place orders/ collect items/ discuss ideas and have social with shared meals. (I wonder about also introducing the idea of guilding with this group of wonderful women?)

4. To expand the potential of the group to include shared group cooking days, apple juicing, jam making etc

5. To share useful tools and resources around the group (such as meal planners, recipes, book recommendations etc

Reflections on all of these are below.

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IMPLEMENTATION, MAINTAINANCE, EVALUATION AND TWEAKSIMG_9728

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PERSONAL EVALUATION

Looking back over my thoughts at the beginning of the design process, I can see where this design has been successful. Looking at the ‘why do I want to be involved’ section of the brainstorm below sets out my aims quite clearly for this design.

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The following table looks at my personal aims and the wider aims of the group for this design taken from the brainstorm above. I have evaluated each of them and it shows me that this design has been successful.

WHAT WERE MY AIMS? DID I ACHIEVE MY AIMS? HOW?
To further my personal development around food that I started in ‘My health and wellbeing design’ Yes. I eat mainly vegan food now, much of which is organic and wholefoods. I feel far more knowledgable about what is healthy and what isn’t. Ordering from Suma

Ordering an Adel and Cole box each week

Growing lots of my own fruit and veg, especially perennial fruit crops.

Attending healthy eating festivals locally

Taking part in Eat smile live spring and autumn cleanses

Meeting useful and knowledgeable people

Talking with Andrea (naturopath) and Rochelle (Healthy living coach)

To gain control of my family food budget and improve planning in this area Yes. We now have a weekly budget which we are managing to stick to.

But I do aim to keep reducing the amount I spend each week and start adding essentials like loo roll and almond milk to my suma order.

£200 each 6 week Suma

£150 each 6 week abel and cole

£300 each 6 weeks local co-op, waitrose, aldi and farm shop.

Keeping a record of what I spend and limiting local shops/ supermarket spending to £50 per week.

To get great food at the best possible price Yes and No

It depends on where the quality/price spectrum you fall. I thing this food is great value for money as its mainly organic and real. It fills you up and keeps you healthy, but its not cheap.

Buying in bulk from suma and sharing with other in the group.

Buying seasonally

Looking for bargains and stocking up.

To spend time with people I like and who support my food choices Yes

We don’t all make the same food choices but are supportive of each other.

The group members

Eat smile live forums and FB

people who I’ve met.

To write-up a diploma design with a time limit of ten hours writing and ten hours meeting/ordering. Yes I have limited my write-up time. Not sure I’ve quite made it under the ten hours, but it’s definitely been a far quicker writing up process than any of the other designs I’ve worked on so far.
ADDITIONAL AIMS OF THE GROUP DID WE ACHIEVE OUR AIMS? HOW?
To develop a network of people who appreciate wholefood and can share heathy recipes.

To be part of a co-operative venture.

To have meet ups and shared meals with the group

Yes The group is fab
To get better at stock control and knowing what is in my pantry

To improve my meal planning

Yes, we all feel that we are getting there. Still work to do though. By planning ahead, meal planning, checking what we have before placing next suma order, not doing unnecessary shopping. No shopping week challenges where we eat up what we already have.
To use my purchasing power at ethical shops

To be buying good quality food in an affordable way

Yes We feel very happy with the ethics of Suma, abel and cole and the healthy food shops/ farm shops that we use.
To create less food waste Yes and no We are all more aware of throwing food away, especially if its expensive in the first place we are more likely to use up leftovers and limit portions to avoid waste/ However, having young children there is always waste. We all compost/ feed birds/ chickens with our scraps
To create a ‘new normal’ for my kids.

For my children to meet others who eat similar food to them.

Getting there My daughter especially finds it very hard to eat around school friends houses, so eating with the food group really helps. We also make an effort as a family to have lots of gatherings where people can eat our food, or ideally bring and share dishes do that everyone is exposed to new dishes.

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I will be continuing on this healthy eating path for ever. I am learning lots and loving the journey. Its made me feel so much better and stronger and more energetic. The food is bloody delicious too!

I have noticed that this design write up did not include any info about applying the principles of Permaculture. We spoke a lot about permaculture, which was new to the other group members. One of which has gone on to attend a PDC alongside her husband after I sparked their interest. So Permaculture was a big part of the design, but in order to make this more evident in the write up, I’ve reflected on how we used the principles in this table.

Principle Possible application in this design
Observe and interact ·      We started by looking at our current buying and eating habits. We each did a ‘stock check’ of our pantry and observed on what we were buying and using.

·      Part of this design plan was to learn from others and share ideas around the group

·      The design is all about interacting and creating community through the medium of food

Catch and store energy ·      We had planned to meet up and harvest fruit together and make jams and preserves, to expand the season that home-grown foods were are available to us.
Obtain a yield ·      Ensure that the group is useful to us all by feeding back to each other and making changes to our systems as required.

·      Make sure I am getting useful results

Apply self-regulation and accept feedback ·      Observe and note any positives and negatives to each design we trial

·      Make changes and tweaks to the design as needed

Use and value renewable resources and services ·      Consider where I am sourcing my purchases. Is Suma the it the best source?

·      Should we try the local food co-op, farm shops or health food shops instead?

·      What resources do we have that we can share around the group?

·      Shared meals

Produce no waste ·      Use what I buy

·      Use all of the foods I purchase and if they are not getting used up by the ‘use by’ dates, then consider why? Do I need better recipes or to change my purchasing habits?

·      Trying ‘buy nothing’ weeks to use up foods in our houses and reduce waste

·      Bring left overs to our shared meals and share out the remaining left overs!

Design from pattern to detail ·      Try different design patterns and work towards the best solution.

·      Establish a pattern of meeting/ ordering every 6 weeks

Integrate rather than segregate ·      This design is all about coming together and the power of buing in bulk to get the best deals then sharing around our little community
Use small and slow solutions ·      See what we already have in our pantry before rushing out and buying more food.

·      Establishing which design works best by tweaking small changes

Use and value diversity ·      Working together with other women on this design was a big goal of mine, gathering a diversity of ideas and experiences.
Use edges and value the marginal ·      Not sure how this one fits?
Creatively use and respond to change ·      Observe and note what designs we trial

·      Make changes and tweaks to the design as needed

·      Respond to the changes in the group make up and be prepared for the group members and how we meet up to change over the years as we all grow and change.

 

End of 2016 update– This design is still working for me in some ways but not in others. I still order from Suma with this group every 6 weeks or so. I now have a weekly fruit and veg box delivered from Riverford rather than Abel and Cole as I feel they are a more ethical company with better employee care and less gimmicks.

The Suma group has now grown to ten families. This growing process was not easy to negotiate. Some members wanted new people to join, others did not, some people wanted to keep it women only, others wanted men to join. Its been tricky and some feelings were hurt and toes stepped on. Now that there are 10 families involved, we never all order every time, that would be just too huge a delivery for any one household to receive. But it does seem to work out that whenever anyone wants to order, there are sufficient numbers to do so and take the total well beyond the minimum order.

The big negative for me of having a larger group, is that we rarely get together for our shared meals any more. Its become too hard to co-ordinate schedules and too many people to fit into our houses! As our children grow, people return to work, kids schedules fill up and its harder and harder to find the time to get together socially. That is a shame. But I have made some solid friendships within the group and tend to see four of the members on an individual basis now rather than on mass.

Doing this design has made a sustainable change in the way that I buy food and manage my pantry. I’m really happy with that outcome. This design has also taught me a lot about group dynamics and the importance of picking carefully who you want to form groups with! Its taught me a lot about how I myself am in groups, that I like to lead but then I can easily get burnt out when it becomes expected that I will lead. We’ve got better at taking turns and other people taking the initiative, so I feel the group will probably tick along quite smoothly now. Maybe some people will leave, maybe others will join as time rolls on but I think we can sustain these changes.

South Leicester Food Group. Diploma design write up 2

Our second order from Suma was delivered last week. I took delivery at my house this time and hosted a lovely get together last Wednesday. We ate good food, enjoyed good company and wonderful weather. The system was easier to manage this time around but still needs some work.

This post brings me up to date on developments with this design and looks at the E for Evaluations and D for Design and I for Implementation of OBREDIMET.

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After the first delivery we discussed the key functions that we wanted the group to fulfil.

1. For the ordering of items to be straightforward, manageable and time efficient.

2. Delivery to be easy to receive and to be able to to divide up people’s orders with ease.

3. For the group to meet up regularly to discuss and place orders and share meals.

4. To expand the remit of the group to include recipe sharing and group cooking days.

5. To share useful tools, such as meal planners around the group.

I looked at each key function in turn and considered multiple ways or systems of achieving that function. I then reflected on that possible system using the PNI tool. See the two photographs below.

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As a group we decided that we would trial various elements of the systems detailed above and reflect on how we get on. I have begun a table to evaluate each design and will continue this for each design we trial until we come up with something that works well for everyone. The evaluation looks at how well or badly each design worked in term of the 5 key function, a PNI and against Earth care/ People care/ Fair shares (the 3 ethics of Permaculture)

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As well as dividing up the order, we had a lovely ‘bring and share’ dinne with all the kids included as it was half term. We have 12 kids between us, 10 of which were present. IMG_6666IMG_6668IMG_6667

The children played together happily, dressing up, putting on a play, jumping on the trampoline and running around in the sunshine. That was very helpful in allowing us adults to divide up the food order and do our reflections. IMG_6671

 

I will post about this design again in late summer or autumn when we have had time to try out a few more designs and reflect on them. I will aim to complete the OBREDIMET design system and look at the M for Maintainance, E for Evaluation and T for Tweaks. I will also do a personal reflection on this design.

South Leicester food group. Diploma design write up 1

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BACKGROUND TO THE DESIGN

I have been wanting to do a design around how I plan, buy, prepare and share foods with my family and friends. This carries on from the my health and wellbeing design that I have been working on for the past year. I have learnt so much from the previous design and met some great people along the way. I have been speaking with some of these people about setting up a food group concerned with making bulk food orders and coming together regularly to share meals, recipes and ideas around healthy eating.

I have set up a group with six other women, all parents of young children like myself. The diets eaten by this group of women are quite diverse, encompassing vegans, veggies, meat eaters, wholefoodists, grow-you-own gardeners and keen cooks. What we all have in common is a great love of fresh healthy wholefoods and an interest in feeding our families the best possible diets from an ethical source and at a price that we can afford.

So this design aims to look at how to create a sustainable design for our group to order food in a co-operative manner and to meet up regularly to plan this and share meals. Most of my designs to date have been long, drawn out processes in the planning and writing up stages. I wanted this design to be different so have set myself a limit of ten hours writing up and ten hours meeting with the group to plan. I used the design process OBREDIMET as I am comfortable with it already and plan on using design tools that I am familiar with to use my time efficiently.

OBSERVATIONS

Via our Facebook group and over informal discussions at meet ups we discussed our current shopping habits, the changes we wanted to make and why we had wanted to be involved in this group. I pulled this info together in the brainstorms shown below.

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BOUNDARIES 

The group was formed with the intention of ordering from Suma http://sumawholesale.com We decided to jump straight in and place our first order deliberately without applying a design to how we ordered. People were in a hurry to order and I thought it would be interesting to be able to see the difference in ease of ordering with and without a consciously applied design process. The first order was placed in early April and we met up again late April to reflect on how we had found the process so far and plan for the future. I used the fact-finding tool ‘Gives, gains, grins and groans’ ( which I had used before in a Muddy Boots design after originally adapting it from a tool suggested by Looby Macnamara in her fab book, People and Permaculture) to find out lots of info in a quick and easy manner about how people had found the process of ordering. This info was then reformatted as boundaries and resources.

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EVALUATION 

I then carried out a brief evaluation of what we/I had done so far and made a plan for what to do next.

A brief evaulation of how the first order had gone was also carried out with the group and is reflected upon in boundaries and resources. To summarise, the food is great, but the ordering took hours and dividing up individual orders on delivery day was a nightmare.

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DESIGN

We decided that the design should have five key functions; the details of how to make each goal SMART is still a work in progress at this point.

1. For the ordering of food from Suma to be straightforward to manage and for responsibility to be shared out amongst group members.

2. For the delivery be easy to receive and manageable to divide up on delivery day.

3. For us to meet up regularly (once a month?) to place orders/ collect items/ discuss ideas and have socials with shared meals. (I wonder about also introducing the idea of guilding with this group of wonderful women?)

4. To expand the potential of the group to include shared group cooking days, apple juicing, jam making etc

5. To share useful resources around the group (such as meal planners, recipes, book recommendations etc)

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The next thing I will do is look at functions and elements and PNI possible ways of achieving the key functions.

 

My garden design – Tweaks

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I have started this post with an image of a sunflower head as I think it fits well with my current activity of bringing all my ideas together in a harmonious way and looking to nature for inspiration.

To approach the ‘Tweak’ stage of my garden design, I revisited OBREDIMET.

Observations – I looked back at my notes for 2014. I walked around the garden and checked what needed immediate attention. I looked back over the monthly photographs I had taken of my garden.  See post here. I used my in-depth knowledge of my garden, its eco-systems and microclimates built up over the seven years I have lived here.  I looked back at my records of what I harvested from the garden and graded each crop and garden feature to access the effectiveness of my design. See more about this on this post

Boundaries– I looked at what did not work last year and needed changing. I looked at my available time, energy, assistance, resources and money to make changes. I considered the changing needs of my family, how they use the garden and what they like to eat.

Resources– I again looked at my blog posts planning the garden and read over my notes from last year. I looked at the flip-side boundaries and focussed on the positives of time, energy, assistance, resources and money I had available to devote to the design. I looked at the seeds I had left over from previous years. I looked at the garden vouchers I was given for Christmas. I looked at what I could propagate from existing plants in my garden.

 

Evaluation – I brought all of the above together and considered what my priorities were. I set myself aims for my garden in 2015. These are detailed at the bottom of this post.

Design – I looked back at my original design and created an overlay. I used a temporary pen to play around with fitting crops into spaces on the plan, using the tool ‘planning for real’ When I was happy with these I wrote them in with permanent pen. I used the Permaculture principles of ‘Least change for greatest effect’ ‘Creatively use and respond to change’ ‘ Apply self-regulation and accept feedback’ and ‘Observe and interact’

Implement – I will create an implementation plan over the next few weeks

Maintain – I will create a maintenance plan.

Evaluation – I will keep notes on the effectiveness of the design like I did during 2014 in order to evaluate it against my aims at the end of the growing season.

Tweak – I will tweak the garden again next year and continue this cycle year after year.

IMG_5497The original design

IMG_5495 The tweaked overlay

The overlay shows new planting plans for the annual vegetable beds and more focus put onto Forest garden areas. I looked back to my notes about which crops were best for the needs of my family and the environment of my garden. I have excluded lots of crops that don’t do well in my garden and plan to focus on a more limited range of crops this year. I have chosen crops we like to eat a lot of and those that taste better fresh from the garden. I also plan to use varieties that are not easily to purchase in the shops. I also plan to develop the forest garden areas.

IMG_5496This image shows the original design and overlay combined to show how the new and old designs work together.

 

Aims for my garden design during 2015

1. To develop the forest garden areas. I plan to re-read my books on Forest gardening and plan these areas carefully to be as self-sustaining as possible.

2. To focus more on perennial crops I have a lot of demands on my time this coming year which will take me away from the garden, so one aim for this year is to plant less annuals and focus more on perennials that will need less input from me to do well.

3. To ensure the chickens are safe and well cared for. To develop a new enclosed run area using the space behind the greenhouse that is currently neglected. A fox has moved into the area and took two of my chickens recently, so I am being far more wary about allowing them to free-range.

4. To experiment with new varieties of crops that I know do well in my garden.

5. To grow more edible flowers and salad crops.

6. To maintain and develop the good work I have started in the garden, especially with composting, mulching and water capture.

 

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