Diploma design for “Muddy Boots’ – Principles

Look through the lens of each Principle… What do I see? What does it tell me about my current situation? What ideas does it give me about the direction I want to go in and how to get there?                                        L. Macnamara People and Permaculture 2012

IMG_5795I looked briefly at all twelve principles and I have chosen four of the twelve principles to look at in more detail in relation to this design. I chose these four because they just seemed right, they somehow spoke to me and felt relevant to what I wanted to achieve with Muddy Boots outdoor playgroup. Below I will attempt to explain how each of the four principles has influenced my planning so far and how I intend to use wisdom from it in my future planning.

OBTAIN A YIELDIMG_42851. I want to make sure that I am ‘Obtaining a yield’ or getting something in return for all my hard work. Muddy Boots takes a lot of my time in the planning and carrying out of sessions. In return I am getting; a diploma design, useful experience leading outdoor education workshops that I can use in the future, continued access to the community allotment and a share of produce grown there.

2.  To find and develop a new network of like-minded people to connect with. This network could lead to unexpected positive outcomes. 

3. I also want to ensure the participants are obtaining a yield. I hope they feel they are getting good value for money and are enjoying a positive experience with their children, taking home ideas and inspiration for outdoor play.

4. We also create and gather in an actual yield of local, seasonal organically grown crops to be eaten as a group and excess taken home. I hope this will encourage others to begin growing food with their children and encourage kids to try fruit and vegetables they perhaps would otherwise of refused to eat.

DESIGN FROM PATTERN TO DETAILIMG_1378This is one of my favourite Principles and I have used it where-ever possible.

1. In planning the structure of the timetable. Dates of sessions first, details of session themes and leaders filled in as the weeks progress. I used post-it notes to record sessions and leader info to allow flexibility and this was definitely needed!

2. I thought about the structure of the group, how the leadership would work and related this to other patterns found in nature. I decided that my flock of chickens was a good group structure to replicate. The cockerel works hard to lead the way and protect the flock, but also all the chickens know what their roles are and they fulfill them on a regular basis. I am not sure I am particularly comfortable being the cockerel though!

3. I used this Principle when looking to design the planting plans and related activities throughout the year. I looked first at the needs and wants and a general overview of the areas we could use and my planned usage of them. I then filled in the details as the weeks rolled on.

4. Finally this Principle guided my weekly session planning. I always started with a broad theme, ‘butterflies’, ‘bug hunt’ or ‘jam making’ I then added a story book related to the theme, an art or gardening activity and sometimes a relevent snack or song too.

INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATEIMG_17181. I aimed to integrate every participant into Muddy Boots by making them feel welcomed and valued. I made a real effort to welcome people each week and chat to the new people, especially if they had come on their own.

2. Following on from this, I tried to introduce people to each other, creating stronger networks and linking together friends from different areas of my life.

3. I wanted everyone to feel a sense of ownership over the group and able to contribute their individual skills and ideas. I found that some people were more willing to get involved in the overall running of the group than others. Some people just wanted to turn up, enjoy and leave, but others were more pro-active in helping me set up, making tea and running activities. Both approaches were OK and I tried hard to be accepting of however much or little people felt able to involve themselves and to really show my appreciation for people willing to help out in any way they could.

4. I thought about how to integrate Muddy Boots into my life. I encouraged my friends, family and neighbours to attend the group. I used the produce from the allotment in my home cooking. I talked about the group at the Guilding and PDC sessions. I set up a Facebook page and shared it with all my FB friends and the relevant FB groups I am a member of. I took my own children along to sessions and asked their opinions and those of my husband to help me with planning and reflection.

USE SMALL AND SLOW SOLUTIONSIMG_13121. Don’t rush and try to do everything at once! This is a lesson I need to learn in many aspects of my life. I have lots of ideas and get very impatient to develop them. I am learning to pace myself.

2. Following on from the point above, try to avoid burn-out. Don’t allow myself or members to over-commit. The season runs for 15 sessions, so it is important to maintain the quality of the sessions throughout the whole season.

3. Get group members involved in garden design implementation and maintainance as part of the sessions. Many hands make light work!

4. I decided not to advertise the group initially other than through a small mail-out to existing members and through work of mouth. I later change my mind and after much deliberation, posted about the group on a FB group I am involved in “Leicester natural mummies’ this was well received and a large proportion of members found out about us from that group. This was a relatively ‘small solution’ but it had a large effect. A good example of ‘mamimum benefit from minimal effort’!

I also looked at the ethics of earth care, people care and fair shares as shown in the diagram below.

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Calendula flowers

Our garden is bursting with Calendula at the moment. I love these flowers, all the different hues and the subtlety of the different petals forms really appeal to me. The bees love them and they are such a useful plant. I told the kids at gardening club that they could eat the petals in salads, they looked at me in disbelief, then proceeded to spent the rest of the session stuffing flowers into their mouths whenever the teacher’s back was turned!

I even like this plant when the flowers are going over and they start to look a little disheveled. They produce so much seed, so its a plant you will only have to buy once and it will pop up in your garden for years to come.

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I collected some petals yesterday and they are drying out now ready to use for calendula oil in a few weeks. What do you use Calendula for? I’d love to try out some new ideas.

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A posy from my garden – Rainbow

We found a rainbow in our garden today. Like all good rainbows, it didn’t stay around for long, but it was beautiful while it lasted. IMG_2668

Food from my garden – May

This month I have been keeping a record of foods we have eaten using ingredients from our garden. I was expecting May to have slim pickings from our little patch of goodness. The quantites of veggies we picked were limited but we actually had far greater variety than I had expected.

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In a previous post I mentioned; rhubarb crumble, salads, wild garlic, fresh eggs, mint tea and lemon balm tea.My eldest daughter has become a top-class herbal tea maker. I think in the summer we will drink these teas cold over ice too.

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Throughout May we have also enjoyed mange-tout, radishes, fresh herbs especially basil, chives and oregano. Also ‘posh’ salads with calendula flowers, chive flowers, sorrel, numerous types of lettuces, beetroot leaves, pea shoots and a few small spring onions.

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One of my biggest crowd-pleasing dinners was pasta with homemade wild garlic and basil pesto. Here is the reciepe, I didn’t measure anything, so just use quantities you have to hand in this more or less balanced ratio.

HOMEMADE PESTO

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Take a big handful of basil and the same of wild garlic and chop them up finely.

Grate about 150g of cheddar cheese

Using a pestle and mortar, bash up handful of mixed nuts (I used half salted and half plain) Pine nuts would be lovely in here too.

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Combine the ingredients in a bowl with a good glug of olive oil and some black pepper.

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Serve over hot pasta and let everyone help themselves! Yum!

 

Food from my garden

From May till October, I hope to keep a record of what I grow and eat from my garden. Over the last few weeks we have been enjoying …

Rhubarb crumbleIMG_1555

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Omlette with wild garlic

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Salads with parsley, lettuce, radish and wild garlic flowers

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And also Fresh Lemon balm tea and fresh mint tea

 

Twelve principles for twelve months – May – Obtain a yield

My principle for this month is ‘Obtain a yield’ Also expressed as ‘make sure you are getting valuable results’ I am going to focus on two aspects of application of this principle;

1. The yield from my garden. I will be attempting to fulfil one of the SMART goals of my garden design by eating something from my garden on at least 4 days out of each week. As we are only just entering May, I expect pickings will still be quite limited for this month, but I expect to have a good supply of eggs from our hens, various salads, pea shoots, wild garlic, rhubarb, herbs and hopefully some broad beans and radish by the end of the month. There may be extra goodies from the community allotment too. I shall keep a record of what I harvest from the garden and what I cook with it. I have extended this to also include the yield of flowers. I love fresh flowers in my house and am aiming to cut a posy once a week to keep a supply of beautiful flowers without having to buy any.

2. The yield from my diploma activities, namely Muddy Boots outdoor playgroup and my involvement in the PDC. I shall be reflected on why I felt drawn to volunteer my time for these two projects and what yield this gives me.

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The four questions

During the study of Permaculture, we are encouraged to reflect on our actions, aspirations, thoughts and considerations in a structured way. Working in a group of three people, we take it in turns to ask, answer and record responses to four questions. This is normally done within a time limit for addressing each question.

1. What is going well?

2. What is challenging?

3. What are your long-term goals?

4 What are your next achievable steps?

I thought I would use a variation of this technique to look back over 2013 and forward to 2014. I am thinking of this as a Permaculture version of the new years resolution! I know it is rather boring to hear about other people’s resolutions, so below is the very much shortened version. I can now use this info to start making plans for 2014. I love the way Permaculture can so tightly intertwined with your life. It doesn’t feel like an extra bit of ‘work’. Many things that I do for my Permaculture diploma improves my clarity of thought and quality of life.

1. What is going well? New baby in February, great birth, lovely child. Garden productive and enjoyable. Started Permaculture diploma. Had a fab camping holiday. Fun times with friends. Family and friends happy and good things happening in their lives. I am enjoying being a SAHM but also few hours photography teaching in Dec was great.

2. What is challenging? Getting the balance right. Finding time for myself, importance of this to make myself happy! The parent guilt. Money. Quality time with J. Lack of sleep. Too much housework. Lack of energy, feeling unhealthy, need to find time for exercise.

3. What are your long-term goals? Moving to the country side, small holding. Unachievable? P dip helps make this seem more achievable. Work hard on diploma aim to complete in 2017. Get a part-time job after that, Permaculture related or environmental education? Make garden even more productive. Improve health. Live more lightly, scale down possessions.

4 What are your next achievable steps? Health- lose weights, exercise more, dance/zumba/yoga/swim/cycle/walk as much as poss. Try to incorporate this into my everyday life. Keep growing lots of fruit and veg. Eat more vegan, maybe do 2 or 3 completely vegan days per week? Work, regular photography teaching? Maybe I can do a photography course online for digital or do a darkroom evening class to get in some practice or brush up my skills? Diploma -Try to do 6 hours per week minimum on my P diploma. Keep working on my blog. Plan the 2014 garden. Make contact with local permies and set up a guild date. Family life -Get more organised, ask for more help, keep de-cluttering.

It will be interesting to review this post in a year’s time and see how much has changed and what I have achieved during 2014. Happy new year everyone. xx

 

Sewing nook – Design process continued.

2013-10-10 11.47.018. Base map

This is my working drawing of the dimensions of the wardrobe. The normal Permaculture tools of lines of desire, zones and sectors could be applied here, but the space is tiny so I am just using common sense about placements and scale.

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9. Apply Permaculture ethics and principles

Earth care – Use materials I already have whenever possible rather than purchasing new. People care – Zone 00, myself! I will mainly be making things for other people, so they will benefit from handmade presents and clothes repairs.                                                     Fair shares – I don’t really know, errm, let other people use the area too? Maybe I can teach my eldest daughter how to use the sewing machine in a couple of years.

Obtain a yield– Something for myself                                                                         Produce no waste– Make use of materials and objects we have already. Plan carefully and then only purchase what is absolutely necessary.                                                           Use small and slow solutions – A quick first project to ease me into the diploma.       Use edges and value the marginal – Using a marginal area of the house. Also using the edges of the space to the best potential.                                                                   Creatively use and respond to change– Our use of this house has changed a lot since we brought it. Two more children and loads of additional stuff has filled the house up a lot. So I have had to adapt and change how I practice my creative hobbies in the house. I expect this will continue to change in the future.

10. Working Design

This is the wardrobe I am using. The colour-coded book shelf on the left of the wardrobe is the result of nesting madness undertaken at 9 months pregnant. I do like it though, so it has stayed. The limited book shelf space is helping me curb my habit for secondhand paperbacks too!The second image shows the shoddy use of space in the wardrobe. The boxes, baskets and bags were moved elsewhere.

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2013-10-16 11.45.4111. Implementation plan

Go and buy wood for the desk and shelving, get this cut to size in the shop. Re-use wood from previous projects to support the selves and the desk. Check that I have suitable screws, rawl-plugs etc. Make desk, make shelves. Find the folding chair. Find the storage for sewing equipment. Buy a desk lamp and light bulb. Put up Ikea spice rack as a book shelve on inside of door. Use the blackboard paint to paint the inside of the other door. Try it out and see how the space works.

12. Implementation

I have now made the space and tried it out, all went well. There are a few niggles which I can sort out pretty easily. I still need to paint the blackboard on the inside of the door.

13. Documentation and maintenance

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14. Tweak and 15. Evaluate.

I will come back to these stages after I have used the space for a few weeks.

‘What’s for dinner mum?’

The kids always come home from school starving hungry. They love to help me in the garden and the kitchen, but it is not always that helpful. I need to be in the mood to deal with the mess, the arguments about who does what and the general slowing-down that comes with children. I do try my best as I think it is really important that they understand where their food comes from and the effort that goes into producing good ingredients and wholesome seasonal foods for us to eat as a family.

Yesterday I sent them off down the garden to pick blackberries. They came back with a bowl full of shiny black fruits and purple stained faces and hands.  We picked a few Bramley apples too and made a crumble for tea. This is always a popular choice, especially when served with lots of hot custard. It feels really good to be able to provide for my family in this way, I wish i could do it more. My garden is developing well year on year so I hope to be able to pick and eat more from the garden with each season that passes.

The crumble was delicious, we topped it with a granola mix containing lots of nuts and seeds, even little S loved it. He is seven months old and just starting out on solid foods. I think he will be a good eater. Next autumn I expect he will be tottering down the garden too, to graze on the tomatoes and berries, just like his sisters do.

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