Diploma design for Muddy Boots – Patterns

“What are the current patterns of thinking, behaving and interacting? What spirals of erosion can I identify? What would a spiral of abundance look like? What patterns from nature, other people or different activities could help with my design? What patterns of success from other areas of my life could I translate into my design? ” L. Macnamara People and Permaculture 2012


Looby says that the Patterns phase represents the edge between what was and what we would like to be. It is where we reflect on the good and the bad from previous learning and begin looking to the future. So I shall start by briefly outlining how the group worked in previous years and the patterns of workload, attendance and session structure that I have noticed.

* Vicky had around one paid day every two weeks to dedicate to the planning and running of Muddy Boots. I helped out as a volunteer, running some of the sessions and helping advertise but I left the paperwork, budgeting and most of the site maintenance to Vicky. Lots of planning happened in April and May, prior to the group starting to meet. Week by week session planned tended to take around half a day for each session.

* For the first year we ran all the sessions, the second year we asked participants to get involved in running sessions but people did not seem keen to do this and only two sessions were run by people other than ourselves. I don’t think people had the confidence to volunteer to run sessions and it was a hassle for people so they found it easier to leave it up to Vicky and myself, we didn’t really push this but did feel rather disappointed.

* We advertised mainly through word of mouth, friends and friends of friends came along. This meant some sessions were rather quiet but we did have a core group of participants who attended regularly. Our largest ever group was 37 people, 20 was about average.

* The sessions generally ran along these lines. Arrive, introductions, story, activity, snack, songs, tidy up, go home.

I looked back to the 4 G’s group brainstorms to see what participants want to see kept/changes/improved for the group. https://nurturegreen.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/diploma-design-for-muddy-boots-helps/

I have thought hard about patterns in nature and decided that Muddy Boots should follow the patterns of the changing seasons. I intend to reflect this in two ways. Firstly in the session structure as shown in the photo below. With a few tweaks the structure of the sessions can reflect the ebbs and flows of the seasons and give a pleasing natural flow to our activity.


So our new session structure will run as follows; (SPRING) arrivals, exploring materials in free play, coming together, welcome, introduction to the theme and activity, (SUMMER) story, songs, activities, (AUTUMN) snack, chat (WINTER) forward planning and tidy up.

Secondly, what we focus on during the sessions should be related to the current season, spring, summer and autumn (no meetings during winter)


I am pondering the idea of keeping on meeting up over the winter too, maybe in other locations as well as at the allotment? That would solve the problems of having to draw together a new group every spring, but it would cause other issue too – more thought needed on this one!

Another pattern that I have implemented is the use of a theme to each session. The story, songs, activity and sometimes even food will reflect a theme. A welcome board showing the theme will be placed in a flowerbed to be seen by all participants as they enter the site.




To celebrate my birthday we spent a relaxing weekend with friends by the seaside. The weather was glorious, blue skies and sunshine but freezing cold winds. We spend much of the time snuggled up in the cottage in front of the log fire, chatting, playing and eating. When we did venture out we went to see the wild winter beaches. Norfolk has a special bleak beauty in winter. No crowds, just big skies, seagulls overhead and the peaceful sound of flowing water. Exceptionally high tides were forecast but we didn’t see much evidence of this apart from the odd sandbag outside a fisherman’s cottage, just-in-case.





These photos were taken at midday on February 2nd. Check out the length of shadows!

IMG_0416  IMG_0417

I found that I was very drawn to the patterns left in the sand by the receding tides. I have been noticing patterns in nature more and more. Branching, spirals, ripples and curving lines are everywhere once you begin looking for them.





Photos from this week


Mushrooms in the woods, Alice in Wonderland style. So pretty but so dangerous!


An after school snack of greek yogurt and strawberry puree served with love.


I am grateful to have a husband who likes collecting and chopping wood! We have a big stack ready to warm us through the winter. We have managed not to put on the central heating until November. Our house faces south with a wall of glass on the south side, so a little bit on sunshine helps to heat our house for free with the fabulous solar gain.


Searching for colour in the autumn garden I came across the rainbow chard shining in the afternoon sunshine. I love the way the ribs look like the branches of a tree. A great example of the branching pattern in nature.


Two new chickens joined the flock. They are a breed called Rangers and they have been called Margo and Edith. They are laying us large brown eggs every day. We needed the boost in egg production as most of our birds are either too old, too young or pretty but unproductive breeds. I love them anyway. I put down a layer of bark in their run this week as they had churned up the mud and looked rather sorry for themselves.


Trying to fit everything in before the sun goes down is getting increasingly difficult. We are heading rapidly towards the shortest day. The winter solstice is often a significant day for me, I got engaged on that date and I am pretty sure my eldest was conceived on the winter solstice!  I don’t expect anything of significance will happen this year?


Blue sky and autumn leaves, always a winning combination.


A crown of leaves at Forest school.


Have a good weekend everyone.