My health and wellbeing design – DESIGN

IMG_8635Reminder of the aims I initially set myself for this design,

1. To learn about nutrition and health 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

During the design process, these aims have been revised and tweaked as follows.

1. To plan balanced and health-giving foods for myself and my family. 

2. To fit exercise and me-time into my life regularly

3. To continue expanding my knowledge of health and to set myself regular challenges. 

Ideas for designs I could use to fulfil these aims.

1. To plan balanced and health-giving foods for myself and my family. 

First I looked at a few ideas from other sources for meal planning. IMG_5488IMG_5487

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Then I tried out a number of my own ideas and analysed them using PNI.IMG_5486Post-it notes on a piece of card.

Positive – I used this for about 6 weeks. it worked really well because you can keep the post-it notes week after week and re-use them.

Negative – The post-it notes fall off and get muddled up. I needed to make more space for the ‘ideas’ section or create a place to store meal ideas not being used that week. I also found it unnecessary to plan breakfasts.

Interesting – It is easy to juggle the meals around and it is a flexible way of planning.

IMG_5485 Incorporating it into my existing weekly planner blackboard.

Positive – This works well as it is easy to see at a glance just what else is happening that day and so how much time I will have for preparations.

Negative – The board is too crowded with too much information going on, so it’s not easy to fit all required info in. A larger board would be needed

Interesting – I tried allocating each day of the week a theme for example monday-soup, Tuesday, potatoes, Wednesday, rice etc. This really helped with planning and thinking up ideas. It was great to have a space for a shopping list next to the board, so as I planned I could update my shopping list accordingly and make sure we had the correct ingredients.

2. To fit exercise and me-time into my life regularlyIMG_5570I used McHargs exclusion method to look at my daily and weekly routines and see when I had time to exercise. I found out that most of my available time was early mornings or evenings once the children were in bed. Weekends were also more flexible as my husband is around to help with the children. These times are marked with a ‘P’ for ‘Possible’ on the above planner.

IMG_5571I then created an overlay looking at possible activities that could work well at the available times of day.

IMG_5572I then created a third overlay looking at possible boundaries or challenges to taking on activity at these times. This helped me to be more realistic about what I could fit in as well as planning ways to overcome barriers I may come up against.

IMG_5574Finally I used this planner to set myself a realistic weekly plan incorporating up to 10 miles of running per week in three slots, plus a kettlebell class, a yoga session and quality time with my children and husband.

3. To continue expanding my knowledge of health and to set myself regular challenges. 

IMG_5559I used a yearly planner to keep track of key dates for when related activity happened or I planned to happen. I will keep on updating this throughout 2015.

IMG_5590I created a new monthly planner at the beginning of 2015, looking at one Permaculture principle each month and planning related activity. Also on this planner I set myself one challenge each month; for example January’s challenge was to be Vegan and alcohol free all month. February’s challenge is to try out three new recipes each week. Next month, March, I will be trying out new forms of exercise. I will continue adding to this planner as the years rolls around. Not all challenges will relate to my health and wellbeing design, they will be tailored to fit with whatever diploma design is foremost in my mind at that time.

FINAL DECISIONS ON DESIGNS.

I decided that this diploma project needed a number of designs, all based around a calendar. I have considered ways of joining up some of these designs to create an easy flow of ideas and sensible, time efficient planning. I needed to find a way to plan meals that fitted around our schedules. I needed to carefully plan to allow for quick and easy cook meals on busy days or plan in advance by batch cooking meals and filing the fridge or freezer. So it was important that the meal planner linked with my weekly family diary.

I decided to expand the blackboard in our kitchen where I map out plans for each week. This is updated every Sunday evening to ensure we are organised for the week ahead.  I added a ‘Dinner’ column to this wall planner and added a task of weekly meal planning to my sunday chores list. I now check what ingredients are required for the planned meals and update the shopping list on the blackboard accordingly. This list is then photographed on my i-phone and taken to the shops with me.

The blackboard also allows me to see which days I am most able to fit in exercise sessions. The activity I did detailed above that showed me the best times to exercise was very useful, exercise is now scheduled in early mornings or evenings or quiet parts of the weekend. I added an ‘Exercise’ column to the blackboard and write in 3 runs, one class and 1 quiet/date/one to one time each week. I aim to stick to these commitments.

So the blackboard design photographed below helps me to achieve aims 1 and 2

To plan balanced and health-giving foods for myself and my family

To fit exercise and me-time into my life regularly

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Aim number 3. To continue expanding my knowledge of health and to set myself regular challenges Is more of an ongoing design. I am using the wheel of the year design photographed above and will keep on adding challenges to this as time goes on.

 

My garden design – Design process part three.

The write up for my garden design now enters the ‘Design’ stage. This post will cover; Ethics and Principles, web of connections, placements and pattern, companion planting and guilds.

Ethics IMG_0903I have considered where my design fulfilled Permaculture ethics. I drew this out in the form of the three ethics circles. I also considered where garden elements touched on two of the ethics simultaneously and included this in the overlap areas.

PrinciplesIMG_0946

The diagram above shows how my design fulfils Permaculture principles. Some principles were focussed on more than others, but I have considered each principle at least briefly during the design process.

Web of connections

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All of the garden elements are linked with at least a few of the others. The web of connections represents this visually. I can instantly see that water capture, perennial vegetables, chickens and the greenhouse have many connections. So this was considered during the placement stage.

Placements and pattern.  I talked about placement of man-made elements such as paths, chicken run, water catchment and table and chairs in my previous post. I  used Random assembly to consider placements and connections. This is also detailed in a previous post. For natural elements, in particular the planting, I looked at the Permaculture Principle ‘Design from pattern to detail’ to help me consider how to place the elements required in my garden. I drew out the current planting and marked where the spaces were for new or additional planting.

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I then chose to focus on the mid section of the garden as this was the most intensive food production zone. This includes the 7 raised beds, 2 key hole beds, greenhouse and chickens. I drew out this section of the garden at a larger scale.

IMG_0908IMG_0906The overlay shows this section of the garden and the pattern of the beds labelled in their most simple terms, ie, the pattern,  annual veg, kids bed, chickens etc.

IMG_0907This overlay adds detail, with existing planting marked in and details of mulching done over the winter.

IMG_0905Even more detail can be seen when the two overlays are viewed together. Gaps for planting are easily seen alongside the broad plan for what type of planting I have in mind.

Placement of plants. I used the design tool, Planning for real to decide where to plant my crops. This is a great way of trying out various combinations and moving them around until you find a layout you are happy with. The plants were written onto post-it notes and shuffled around on the maps and overlays. The photo below shows the process

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Companion planting and Guilds. I created a Web of connections to help me to think about companion planting. I wrote crops that I wanted to grow around the edge of a sheet of paper, then drew lines to connect plants that grow well together. I found this a very useful tool to depict visually a lot of information in a simple way. I’d like to do this again for a future project, adding more plants and connections. I could also include information on plants to keep apart (maybe by colour-coding the connection lines?) IMG_0913

IMG_0915 I noted ideas for good companion planting schemes for crops I wanted to grow.

IMG_0914I thought about guilds, specifically for around the young fruit trees. I intend to replicate elements of this guild around each young fruit tree in my garden. The left hand page of my sketch book above shows the guild plants and their purposes. The right hand page shows some initial ideas for the new keyhole beds.

My next post will share my design proposal.

My garden design – Design process part two.

My Garden design is coming along well. I have done lots of work on it over the past months. The rapidly approaching spring is pushing me on, as I need to be ready to begin planting by the beginning of next month. This post follows on from the post entitled ‘My garden design, beginning the design process’. This post will detail additional stages in the ‘Think’ stage of the Permaculture design process.

Base map. The Base map below shows the dimensions, orientation and major features of the garden as it was in January 2014. The set of six beds in the centre of the garden were put in last summer with a view to doing this design and upping food production.

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Overlays. I created overlays onto acetate. These are useful as they can show different aspects of the garden on different maps, keeping the original base map simple.

 

This overlay shows Zones and Desire linesIMG_0897

IMG_0899This overlay shows Sectors

Additional client interview                                                                                               

I have spoken lots to the other members of my family in an informal way about what they wanted from our garden. However, on reflection, I thought maybe I had made some assumptions about their wants, needs, likes and dislikes. So I went back over this with each member of my household and recorded their thoughts. For the children I did this in the form of a mind-map and for my husband we used an adaptation of the 4 questions tool, where he spoke and I wrote, then read his answers back to him. Photos of my notes are below. The blue building blocks are just used to cover their names and ages for reasons of privacy.IMG_0910IMG_0912

Key functions. The next stage was to decide upon Key functions. They were taken from considerations of the client interviews along with the work detailed in my previous post such; observations, boundaries, resources, functions/elements/systems and mapping. I decided to focus on five key functions for my design; food production, attracting beneficial insects, water capture and sustainable usage, soil improvement and places to sit and enjoy the garden. For each of these key functions I have set SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bounded.

1. Food production. I aim for the garden to provide something to eat four days out of each week from May to September 2014. I will record what I pick, cook and eat in a diary. I plan to grow annual and perennial vegetables and add more fruit trees and soft fruit.

2. Attracting beneficial insects. I will research and grow suitable plants to attract pollinators and beneficial insects to help my food crops be successful. I will add these plants to my planting plan by the end of March 2014. I will make a special effort to observe the garden insects and keep a record of what I see. I will use companion planting and guilds in my garden.

3. Water capture and sustainable usage. I will add guttering and water storage tanks to my sheds by May 2014. I will use drip irrigation in some of my vegetable beds. I will set up an overflow system from the rainwater tanks to keep the pond topped up. I will try not to use mains water at all this summer to irrigate my plants. I will record in a diary anytime my tanks are dry and I have to use mains water in the garden.

4. Soil improvement I will research sheet mulching and use this technique to improve the keyhole beds where the chicken run previously was. I will sheet mulch by the end of March 2014. I will use green manures on available beds to cover the soil throughout the year. I will continue composing the chicken bedding and our food and garden waste. I will aim to get horse manure for free in the autumn to cover the beds for the winter. I will aim to not buy in more than five bags of compost this year. I shall hope to reduce this consumption each year.

5. Places to sit and enjoy the garden I will move the position of the table and chairs to where it gets the evening sun. I will aim to eat dinner outside with my family at least once a week from May onwards, hopefully many more times. I will have at least six meals or BBQ’s in the garden with family and friends during the warmer months.

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Remedial actions. The most pressing things to be addressed seem to be; the muddy paths, the lack of water capture on the sheds; developing a new run for the chickens and moving the table and chairs into a sunny spot.  I have created a new sectional chicken run, more on this in a later post. I am hoping to address the water capture and storage issue one weekend soon. I was be laying some stepping stones initially from the terrace to the main path, to avoid the muddy patch. The table and chairs are easy to move but I am waiting until after giving the lawn its first mow of the year when it has dried out a little more.

IMG_0901                                 This overlay shows some initial ideas about areas requiring attention.