Designing my next steps using natural cycles – The design process

I am nearing the end of my time working on the permaculture diploma, so I thought it would be interesting to experiment with designing my own design process for one of my projects. I’m going to be using this design to re-access my skills and examine the next steps for my career.

My youngest child has just started school, so for the first time in eleven years, I am home alone without a preschool-aged child. It’s taking a bit of getting used to. I’m not planning on rushing into any changes, but it feels like a good time to take stock of where I am now in my career and try to see a way forward to where I’d like my career and life to be heading into the future. I’m going to be using my own design process to help me to achieve this. The remainder of this blog post will explain the design process that I’ve created, where the idea came from and how I propose to use this process to assist me in this design.

Nature is full of cycles, the changing of the seasons, the monthly cycle of the moon, the rhythm of the tides and the perpetual motion of time passing each day.

As a woman, I am also particularly aware of the major cycle within my own body, my menstrual period. In each of our monthly phases we change. We are different to how we were before. Our bodies and our minds work differently. We are cyclical, not linear. Feminine not masculine. If we use and embrace these cyclical differences, then we can find ways to use our cycles to our advantage.

I’ve been learning about this and tracking my cycle and how I feel in each phase for over a year now. I’ve tracked my cycle in a daily diary and via an app on my phone. I’ve discovered that how I show up in the world does change greatly, dependant on which phase I am in. So a next logical step is to try to tailor the work I do to best suit my phase. This design process hopes to explore that idea, help me plan for the future and consider how all this links in with the permaculture tools and processes I have been learning.

I will be creating and using my own design process which is a tweaked version of the Action learning cycle OBSERVE * THINK * DESIGN * DO

I have used a combination of the moon cycle, the season cycle and a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle as the basis for this design process.

So rather than, observe * think * design * do, My design process could be simplified to


I looked at each weekly phase and considered how I felt, what I felt were advantages and disadvantages of each phase. I specially considered how I felt about my owrking life in each phase of my cycle. This inforation was taken from notes made in my diary over the course of a year. I also took inspiration from an online ‘Goddess retreat’ course by Jessica Mckinskey Hood and from books i’ve read including Love your lady landscape, Code Red and Witch‘ by Lisa Lister.


I will now go through each phase in more detail.


Days 1-6 is when I am menstruating. The Crone/ winter/earth/new moon phase.

For these days my focus is inwards, I’m good at reflective work, thinking deeply, planning, dreaming, letting go of the past. I need to ensure I am resting, providing self-care and allowing lots of quiet time at home.


Days 7-13 is my pre-ovulation phase. The Maiden, waxing moon, spring, air phase.

This is a really active phase for me. I can action my ideas, cope with very physical days, think logically and feel full of enthusiasm. I have lots of energy and feel confident and social.


Days 14- 21 are my ovulation phase. The Mother, full moon, summer, fire phase.

I generally ovulate around day 15 and feel a difference before and after ovulation. I generally feel very social, outgoing, confident and resilient during these days.


Days 22 – 29 are pre-menstruation. The Sage, waning moon, autumn, water phase.

This phase gets a bad rep as women can feel moody, irritable and anti-social. But it does have lots of positives too, I find I am super organised, assertive, creative and good at solving problems during this phase. I need to allow myself some quiet days towards the end of this phase when my energy levels drop noticeably and I want to be alone.

So, how does all this relate to Permaculture?  I thought that the different skills in each phase could be well suited to different stages of a permaculture design process. I set myself a task to think of all the design tools I could remember, write them out on scraps of paper and decide where they would be best placed in the monthly cycle.


Crone phase – REFLECT
Design tools that require quiet reflection and deep thought. 
Observations, reflections, 6 thinking hats, evaluations and tweaks to a design.



Maiden phase -PLAN
Design tools that are active, physical and creative
Initial research, input/output analysis, wild design, zone and sectors, paste, designing and idea brainstorming and putting ideas into action.



Mother phase – CREATE
Design tools that are playful, fun, collaborative and social.
Client interviews, discussion groups, boundaries and resources, random assembly and web of connections.



Sage phase – REFINE
Design tools that focus in on details, make decisions and solve problems
Final decision-making, set smart goals, base maps, designing, create plans for implementation and maintenance, and financial planning and records.




Allotment playgroup- update and evaluation.

The education space at the allotment playgroup has been growing and developing rapidly throughout 2017. I’ve held 44 sessions over the spring, summer and autumn months. I’ve worked with around 30 family groups each friday over two sessions. Its been great fun. The willow den is really taking shape now but it has been plagued with wasps for the last few weeks and out-of-bounds!

This year the kids decided to plant lots of strawberries, herbs, beetroot, tomatoes, carrot, runner beans and sweet peas. We’ve also harvested apples, soft fruit, potatoes and courgettes. The children have been involved in every stage, from sowing seeds, to weeding, watering, harvesting, washing and preparing produce and of course eating it!

Its our last session this week before the winter break. I’ll be sad not to spend my Fridays at the allotment anymore, but I’ll be using the free time to try to complete my permaculture diploma before summer 2018.


The aim of this Permaculture Diploma design was very straightforward;

“To enlarge the fenced-in area of the community allotment and re-design the space where the Muddy Boots allotment playgroup meets”

I thought I should evaluate the success of my design by looking at my planned actions  against what I actually did.

  1. Enlarge the space with new fencing. YES 
  2. Have a tarp extension onto the gazebos and easy fixings for rainy day. YES but the fixing was not very easy as the tarp was multi use so couldn’t have permanent ropes attached. 
  3. Re-do the willow den – YES its taking really well
  4. Add bench and log seating inside the willow den. YES
  5. Add a wildlife area behind the shed. NO I didn’t get around to this and the neighbour was not keen on allowing ‘weeds’ to grow there and sprayed weed killer in the area – I was very sad and annoyed but for the sake of happy relationships at the allotment I had to let this go. 
  6. Add a blackboard and painting board. YES this worked well
  7. Changed the size of the sandpit to make it more affordable to fill up. YES but it does need re-filling every term and costs me £20-£0 each time so I need to factor this into my budgets. 
  8. Make a new mud kitchen out of pallets and donated kitchen items. YES but the sink only lasted 1 year and the whole kitchen will need replacing soon. 
  9. Add a removable canopy over the den area near the fence. YES I used this for shade on hot days and for a play space. I’ve just been donated some outdoor bean bags, so these will be added to the area for a quite reading and snuggling area. 
  10. Add climbers to the fence. YES lots added and establishing well.
  11. Add soft fruit to the triangular bed. YES added and establishing slowly.
  12. Add a mud pit. YES the kids adore this (parents not so keen!)
  13. Re bark the paths and area around the mud kitchen. YES but will need refreshing every year. 
  14. Add signage to explain what the planting and play features are all about. YES but again will need replacing/ updating every year due to watering.
  15. Add a waterplay area. NO, I did do waterplay and gathered lots of kit for this but did not set up a specific space for this. I’d love to create a water will in the future for pouring and collecting activities. 
  16. To allow more people to attend the group each week, thus making it more profitable and sustainable. YES this definately happened. The morning session was fully booked all year and althought the afternoon sessions were always quieter, they attracted enought people to make them worthwhile. 


Developing Muddy Boots Forest School – Wild Roots retreat day

I ran the Wild Roots women’s retreat day on June 24th 2017. I’ve been getting increasingly interested in women’s issues, earth based spirituality, health and well-being and I could see some real potential in Forest school type activity aimed at women. I decided to trial a retreat day aimed at mothers who bring their children to my Muddy Boots children’s activities.

I used Permaculture design tools and Looby’s design web to plan my activity. I did most of my planning in a sketchbook, so have photographed the pages and posted them here to show my designing.  I did not work through each anchor point in a clockwise circular order, instead I dotted around instinctively and as felt appropriate.

For ease of reading, I have grouped activity for each stage of the design web under its title heading in this blog post as we move around in a clockwise motion. Please bear in mind that this does not represent work in chronological order. For example, I brainstormed activity ideas before I decided on a pattern for the day – obviously! Not the other way around as it appears if you read each anchor point in order.

I have included photos from the retreat day scattered throughout the post to illustrate what actually occurred on the day.



I’ve found it useful to try to sum up my vision in a sentence. so here goes…

My vision for this design was to create an event for women that combined a relaxing and inspiring retreat day with Forest school ideas and activities. 

wild rootsThis is the flyer/poster I created for the day, the activities on offer should show a flavour of my aims for the day.

IMG_8145I used permaculture ethics; earth care, people care, fair share, to help me create my vision for the day.

IMG_8162I brainstormed my aims for the design which were quite wide-ranging. I ensured this design fulfilled multiple functions for me on both a personal and professional level.

IMG_8167I considered whether to try to take part in someone else’s festival/event or whether to set up on my own. I did a PNI to consider this and talked it over with a few friends and my husband. In the end I decided to go it alone on this occasion as I had the location and the potential clients available. I would however like to bring this type of event to a festival in the future.

IMG_8166I attempted to make my vision more achievable by setting myself some SMART goals. Looking back I can see that these goals were not SMART at all. They were just a bunch of really quite vague goals! I’ll  look again at these later in the reflection phase of the design cycle.


I see helps and limits as two side of a coin, so it made sense for me to link these two stages together.

IMG_8146I began by doing a brief brainstorm as a survey, I looked at my boundaries, resources, and considered who the intended clients were for the event. I then used PASTE to think more about specifics of the site.

IMG_8156The six thinking hats activity really helped me to consider my vision, helps and limits in more detail.


It was really important to me to use natural patterns in my planning and in how I planned the flow of the day. I spent quite a while considering this and finally settled on using the moon cycle – something that I’m really interested in following in my own life. 


IMG_8151IMG_8158IMG_8159I considered how the waxing and waning of the moon could relate to the feel of the activity planned in the event.


9.30-10AM Arrivals,

Fruit/ herbal tea, coffee and raw chocs

10-10.30 Welcome circle

Walk to the meadow

10.30- 11.00 30 mins energizing yoga sequence and


11.00-11.30 Foraging walk around the woods
11.30 – 12.30 Making oils and balms

Soup making on the campfire

Flower mandalas

12.30-1.00 Shared lunch

Time to rest in hammocks and bell tent

Inspiring books available to read

1-1.30 New moon intention setting circle or extended lunch break
1.30-2.30 Making flower mandalas

Dream catchers

Hapa Zoma

2.30-3.15 onwards 45 mins Relaxing yoga sequence Soundscape

Gong meditation and yoga nidra

3.30 onwards. Elderflower cordial and foodie treats

Evaluations and session ends


IDEASIMG_8152I brainstormed potential activity ideas and then looked at some of them in more detail, then analysed them against permaculture principles before deciding which to choose.

IMG_8154IMG_8155IMG_8153Some of the activities I eventually decided upon for the day are shown in the photographs below. 

IMG_6840Foraging for medicinal and edible greens



I created sheets listing plants we could forage for and their edible and medicinal uses. Click the links to download the sheets.

IMG_6819Yoga in the meadow

IMG_6826Gong meditation and soundscapes to accompany our yoga

IMG_6848Making herbal lip balm and massage oil



Click the links to see the recipe and method sheets.

IMG_6913Making willow dream catchers

IMG_6894Making flower mandalas

PRINCIPLESIMG_8149I chose four permaculture principles at random and brainstormed which questions, thoughts and ideas they raised for me. 

I talked about Permaculture during the event, mentioned the ethics and principles and brought along lots of Permaculture books for the reading tent to signpost people towards further learning about Permaculture. I invited my local Permaculture friends to attend the day and Anna B came along. I mentioned her and the local Permaculture courses during the intro to the day, and directed people to enquire with Anna if they wanted to learn more about Permaculture. 

INTEGRATIONIMG_8168IMG_8169I wanted to ensure this design was fully integrated into my life and fulfilled both professional and personal functions for me. I thought hard about what I wanted the functions of the design to be. I tried to find multiple elements for each important function to ensure that nothing was missed out. 

I also wanted this design to make me feel more integrated with other people. I normally work on my own, which can feel quite isolating. So an important element for my professional development was working with others. I managed to get five excellent partners on board; a yoga teacher, sound meditation facilitator, an artisan bread baker, a raw food maker and another Forest school leader. More details about each of them can be found on the Muddy Boots website page about the retreat day here

I also wanted the event to integrate women with each other. Magic happens when women gather and I wanted to facilitate that magic! IMG_6899IMG_6859

ACTIONIMG_8163The action phase of the design web, for me, is all about the practicalities. How to get from ideas to action, how to make things happen. So this is where I sort out the nuts and bolts, actions plans, finances, timescales etc.

I had six months run up to actioning this design, so quick decision-making and good planning were key. There were moment when I really floundered and wondered whether I’d bitten off more than I could chew, but the support of my team proved invaluable. It was lovely working with other people, I feel I was lucky in who i’d chosen to work with and we worked well together and supported each other. I’d love to work with these people again in the future. I’ve already turned down 1 opportunity to run this event again as it would mean doing so without some of the team. I’ll try to schedule in another retreat day for summer 2018 and have everyone on board again.

Finances – One of the goals for this day was to run a profitable event.  The financial break down follows.

INCOME  TOTAL £425 ( £25 per person X 17  attendees)                 



£50 Jodie H food

£15 Dave B bread

£20 Other food and drink purchased

£84 Jodie K Forest school assistant

£75 oils and balms activity materials

£20 plants for activities

£25 Dream catcher activity materials

£20 Flower mandala/ Hapa Zoma activity materials

£7 Facebook promotion

£24 basic session costs, photocopying, laminating etc

BALANCE £85 (£425 – £340 )

So I was able to pay myself the balance left after all expenditure had been paid out. This was just £85 or £9.44 per hour for 9 hours work. Not a lot of money for working 9 hours  (8am-5pm) on the day of the event, not to mention the many days work I’d put in the planning. So this is definitely not sustainable or repeatable. My time and hard work is worth far more than that. Normally I pay myself and my assistant a minimum of £12 per hour. I honoured my assistant’s £12 per hour rate but couldn’t afford this amount for myself – which was rather gutting. 

 The goal of needing the event to pay for itself was met in part, thanks to the yoga teacher and sound artist offering their skills for free.  I’d definitely need to reduce costs and charge more if the event is repeated. I’d need to pay them next time and I need to make far more money to pay for the hours I put in for planning and preparation. 


MOMENTUMIMG_8161IMG_6861I tried to find a balance of moments of momentum and moments of pause during the retreat day. The quest for balance is something that I’m deeply involved in and getting better at! On reflection, there was too much activity during the day and the quiet moments I’d hoped to build in got lost in the quest to keep everything running to the timetable. 

The momentum in the run up to the event was great, I felt very motivated to run this event and excited to explore a new area of work. The tight timescale also kept me moving. After the event, initially I felt great momentum to schedule in another one straight away. After a few attempts to co-ordinate diaries with my team, it proved too tight to fit in another retreat day before the colder weather came in. One potential date in September did look good for a while, but I was offered work at a local festival for the day. So this seemed too good an opportunity to turn down.

So the momentum that we’d built up was lost and to date, we’ve not yet scheduled in another day, but I hope to do so soon and get something in the diary for summer 2018.


During the event we had a ritual fire, set new moon intentions and wrote a list of things we appreciated on one leaf and things that no longer served us on another leaf. The things we wanted to rid from our lives we threw into the fire and the things we wanted to claim we hung from the trees.

I have thought about what I appreciate after the event too and created the list below.

  • I appreciate the help, love, support and skills gifted to this event by everyone involved in the running of the day.
  • I appreciate that friends, family and strangers all booked and paid to attend the event.
  • I appreciate the faith shown in me by people who attended the event, especially those people who’d never been to a Muddy Boots event before.
  • I appreciate the woods for accepting us into their space for the day with welcome.
  • I appreciate that mother earth left me a Jay feather to find when I first arrived on site, a good omen for the day
  • I appreciate the weather being kind on the day, still, dry and warm.


To reflect on this event I began by, looking back at my goals and doing PNI analysis for each goal. I decided to separate some of my goals out, to make them more specific as I’ve learnt the benefit of doing this from other evaluations I’ve carried out during my diploma pathway. 

To create an event that teaches women new skills The retreat day taught lots of skills, but I have no way of knowing whether these skills were ‘new’ to the participants or not, other than info gathered anecdotally during conversations had during the course of the day. I could have included a question in the evaluation each participant completed about new skills.
To create an event that teaches women about nature We talked lots about the nature specific to the woods where the day was held, what was growing and what we could use these plants for. This goal needed to be more specific. I would have liked to provide more quite times for the participants to soak up being in nature without so much activity to pre-occupy their minds.
To create an event that teaches women about the patterns in mother earth I showed images of the moon cycle and explained how this had influenced my planning for the day. We chatted about moon cycle/ menstrual cycle links and peoples experiences of these. This goal needed to be more specific in mentioning the moon cycle.
For the event to be profitable Yes the event made a small profit if you do not factor in paying myself I worked for well below minimum wage and many hours unpaid to make this event a success. I gained far more positive outputs than just financial outputs from putting on this event. These less tangible profits are not measured but they are plentiful and make up in part for the lack of financial profit.
For the event to be repeatable Yes I feel I can repeat this event successfully and learn many lessons from this first event. I’ve learnt lots and know what changes to make to make the event better – mainly, charge more, make the event longer and don’t try to do so much in a short timescale!
For Muddy Boots to explore the expansion into Forest school activity aimed at adults Yes this was a great first trial into working with adults. I really enjoyed working with women and feel this is something I’d like to explore further. The event excluded men, maybe I need to do a lads and Dads day or similar to redress the balance at some point? I’ve tweaked my Saturday Forest school sessions in reflection to the retreat event. They are now marketed as ‘Family forest adventure days’ and far more adults attend which is a big positive.
For me to learn new FS skills I attended oils and balms workshop and two foraging days in preparation for these workshops in the retreat day. So yes, I did learn new skills. I’m really keen to learn and teach more about foraging and now try to include this in my sessions whenever possible and suitable.
For me to learn new teaching methods The new moon circle was new to me. I didn’t feel particularly confident in leading the more ‘woo woo’ new age bits. I loved it, but it’s all new for me. It would be good in the future for me to attend some events like this as a participant to gain ideas from more experiences teachers
To explore new business partnerships Yes I worked with new people
To reach new audiences Yes 8 of the women who attended (out of 17) were brand new to Muddy Boots. I hadn’t expected so many new people would attend, A great new yield and 5 of them have gone on to bring their children/ grand children to my regular classes.
To create a diploma design Yes this event led to a diploma design for my portfolio The fact that I knew I had to write this event up for my portfolio led me to improve my planning techniques and approach the event more thoughtfully.
To spend time with like-minded women I certainly had a lot in common with many of the women who attended. Another vague goal!
To strengthen connections The event strengthened my connections with the people on my team and made new connections with many of the participants. Many of who have stayed in touch and/or attended more Muddy Boots events.
To challenge myself to explore my edges. I have furthered my knowledge of herbal and wild foods and this is possibly leading me onto doing another of my diploma designs on the subject. I explored teaching methods and subjects that were new to me Another vague goal!

I was lucky to have another student of Permaculture attend the retreat day event. Anna very kindly agreed to do me a PNI reflection after the event.

Muddy Boots Womens Retreat June 2017 PNI from Anna B

Positive Negative Interesting
Outdoor venue easy to find, good directions, concise and informative emails regarding content. Good parking. Wild wee. This made me giggle. Mention to take your tissues home with you if you do wild wee
Good signage once in the wood Dog walkers and other park users stopped frequently to read the signs – but didn’t learn anything about what was going on Use this to promote your courses to the local community – tear off strips/phone number/website etc.
Framing the day and mention of permaculture Explain briefly what the three ethics are rather than only naming them Thanks for the mention – a couple of people asked me more about P and graceworks and hopefully I’ve encouraged one person to investigate the courses on offer
All activities are optional I wasn’t clear when some activities had finished (morning forage) and the next activities had begun. Not sure if the hand raising is too formal for this type of course, or perhaps a chime of a small bell/cymbals would work?
Provision of quiet secluded reading space Great range of books
Provision of hammocks to relax in Lovely to lie in them and rest
Provision of hot and cold drinks and snacks available all day Label the morning and afternoon snacks, and why they are special Great to be introduced to raw chocolate snacks – (would love this ladies contact details)
Emily being available to meet & greet, and do insurance/risk assessment document Emily being behind the drinks/food table – position yourself closer to the entrance so you are the first contact, then send people in to the tea-table, and indicate where is a good place to put your bag
Morning circle – lovely to sit down for a change and listen to other people’s reasons for being there – nice adaptation of more permie mc’s
Morning yoga – really nice to do this outdoors in an alternative location to the base camp. Adored the scents used, and the music. Not that confident in the yoga teacher’s skills
Forage walk – lovely to split into smaller groups, and have an ID sheet. Naughty sunshine the previous week making some things on the ID sheet “go over”
Lotions and lip salve activity – really really enjoyed this, great to make something to take home with me. Slightly crowded table – perhaps stagger the participants with other activities, or split the activity into chunks so that all who want to play a part in making
Lunch – adore a shared lunch and potential to try new and interesting dishes. Great to have some soup made from foraged items The buckets were a little unstable for us larger ladies Suggest people bring a folding picnic chair with them unless happy to sit on the floor (not all physically able to do so)
Afternoon activities – Lovely to try new art forms Use of sticky back plastic for mandals – perhaps making them on the floor (and biodegrade), or using PVA to stick to pieces of recycled card or recycled plastic gels (arrghh still plastic I know!)
Afternoon yoga – really lovely to do some more yoga to close the day But…perhaps a meditation session instead as this felt a bit too physical
Pack up – top idea to ask people to do 1 thing – it is the “1” that gets people to join in and then sometimes they do 2 or 3. I hope this helped you pack up a bit quicker Even though I brought too much with me that in the end I didn’t need, I would have been happy to carry one bag or a trolley’s worth to the edge of the park, or your house when leaving.



I am now in the pause phase of this design. I’m taking time out from it, reflecting on lessons learnt and considering my next move. I’m glad to be able to take this time before needing to jump straight in again and run another one.

I’m learning lessons from nature, as following the autumn pattern of letting go, resting and renweing before I re-commence planning in the springtime.

UPDATE I’m really excited to reveal that . have another women’s retreat day planned for 30th June 2018. I will be working with the same partners as last year along with a few new link ups. I’ve began to advertise the day already and have had lots of expressions of interest. Its looking like the event will be sold out and hopefully more profitable this year. I’ve learnt so much from doing this design and will make best use of this knowledge in planning the next event.

Using Permaculture in my Forest School leader training

In late 2014 I decided the time had come to do my Level 3 Forest School leader training and add Forest school activity to my Muddy Boots business. This training would allow me to set up my own Forest school. I undertook training in early 2015 and wrote in numerous blog posts including here.

I used Permaculture in a variety of ways throughout my training and wondered if I could somehow link my training and my Permaculture diploma. I never did write up a full design for my FS training, but I have included a few mini designs here to show how interlinked my thinking had become.

IMG_8140I brainstormed how I could use my permaculture design skills to help me in different areas of my Forest school training.

IMG_8139 (1)I used the action- learning cycle to help plan a route through my training course.

IMG_8132I used Looby’s Design web to help plan a Forest School taster event that I ran in local woodland. Providing this event for free for the borough council was a first step in obtaining long-term regular use of council woodland where I currently run my Forest school activity.


IMG_8134I used the action learning cycle again to plan a programme of six practical sessions that I needed to run as part pf my training course.

IMG_8143I applied permaculture thinking and PNI analysis to consideration of finding a woodland site in which to run my six practical sessions.

IMG_8142I considered patterns, flow and rhythm in my session planning.

IMG_8144I used planning for real techniques in my termly session planning


The training course was lots of fun but hard work. I ran my six sessions for the course in the autumn of 2015 and was granted permission to run another block of six sessions in the council woodland. Its all been a great success, the council are very supportive and have allowed me to continue and I’ve been working there 2 or 3 days a week ever since.

Influences September ’16- February ’18

The summer is drawing to a close and I can feel autumn sneaking up behind me, so its time to re-direct my attention towards my Permaculture diploma. Writing up my designs is always a job for the colder months and I’m looking forward to cracking on with my diploma again with a hope of completing the last few design write ups over the winter and accrediting in the late spring 2018. So here is  a round-up of what has influenced my diploma pathway over the last year.

Training and learning

  • I completed my IPA in January 2017 (interim portfolio assessment) five of my 10 diploma designs were signed off by my tutor with minimum changes required. This was a big relief and very re-assuring that I was on the right track.
  • I am undertaking a wild food mentor online course with ‘Eat weeds’. Its teaching me more about how to identify and use wild foods. This is greatly helpful for my Forest school business, as I’ve began to include lots more foraging and campfire cooking activities.
  • I attended a two-day wild food course with a local expert. We went on wild food walks, foraged and learnt new cooking techniques. This was in the spring, I was hoping to do a further autumn course, but unfortunately it is fully booked – hopefully I’ll attend next year.
  • I signed up as a member of the ‘Radical self-love coven’ and have enjoyed a year-long online course into all things witchy. We’ve studied spell-work, numerology, crystals, feng shui, astrology and tarot. I’m loving it all.
  • I’ve been learning lots about the moon phases, women’s cycles and earth based spirituality. I’m a member of Lisa Lister’s ‘wake the witches’ group and numerous other useful forums.
  • I’ve attended some moon goddess training and would love to go on and learn more. I track the moon cycle and my menstrual cycle and am discovering some useful insights.
  • I’ve attended lots of doTerra essential oils workshops and use these oils everyday to support my health and general wellbeing.
  • I have attended four Forest school training days. Two general skills development days and an oils and balms workshop and a willow weaving day.
  • I’m still a member of the online group ‘The balance club’ This helps me to keep focussed on my health and wellbeing.


  • I attended the Permaculture AGM at Graceworks in November 2016
  • I attended the Permaculture diploma accreditation event for Sarah Spencer in April 2017 and I was on her peer review panel.
  • Tomorrow I am attending the Permaculture diploma accreditation event for Sam Woods and I am on her peer review panel.
  • I led tours around the allotment site where I run Muddy Boots allotment playgroup for the East Midlands and the Britain in bloom judges in summer 2017
  • I took part in numerous muddy runs
  • I attend zumba, yoga and gym classes on a weekly basis.
  • We took a three-week camping holiday in August


My bookshelf and bedside table are still filling up with books about spirituality, witchy paths, hypnosis, wild foods, goddesses, visualisation, female empowerment, self-love and of course gardening and love of the woods. I’m currently reading ‘The mists of Avalon’ , Lisa lister’s ‘Witch’ and Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ classic ‘women who run with the wolves’ My poor husband is a little freaked out!


  • I’ve been running Forest school every Thursday and monthly on Saturdays.
  • The allotment playgroup has been running March- October every friday.
  • I plan and prep my Muddy Boots work every Wednesday
  • In 2016 I started running Forest school birthday partiesand half term children’s Forest school events.
  • I ran a women’s forest school retreat day in June. I will be writing this up in more details as its to form my next diploma design.
  • I took Muddy Boots to a local festival, the edible forest festival in September where I ran campfire cooking events, an epic mud kitchen, den making activities and a reading tent.
  • My colleague Jodie has now set up her own Forest school, I’ve assisted her at this on a few occasions and am glad to be able to return the favour after she’s helped me ut so much over the years.

Pathway mini evaluation

Now that I’ve passed my IPA and reached the halfway point in my diploma design, I thought it would be useful to look back at the major permaculture related activity that I was involved in and to do a mini evaluation of each year.

Post updated in late feb 2018 to include all ten designs and activity up until my final evaluation in March 2018


  • Did my PDC (Permaculture design certificate)
  • Designed and implemented the design for the Diploma design 1 –  Community allotment education space
  • Began leading Muddy Boots allotment playgroup with my sister who was employed there at the time my TCV
  • Taught basic gardening skills for adults course at a local allotment
  • Began planning my garden design
  • Pregnant with my son
  • POSITIVE – Doing the PDC was excellent. Setting up the community allotment education space was a fantastic opportunity and I didn’t realise so at the time, but it set me onto a new career path. I was very happy to be expected another baby. I enjoyed teaching gardening to adults. 
  • NEGATIVE – Not very negatives this year really, it was an amazingly exciting year for me and the start of lots of new cycles. 
  • INTERESTING – My energy levels and physical capabilities were restricted towards the end of the year as I was as pregnant. I found this quite hard to accept as i was full of ideas that I was excited to try out. 


  • My son was born in February 2013
  • Signed up for the Diploma in late 2013
  • Came up with initial ideas for 10 designs and did some preparatory work
  • Started this blog
  • Some work began on my garden design – re-structuring where the garden beds were located and taking down the polytunnel etc.
  • Worked at Muddy Boots allotment playgroup with my sister.
  • POSITIVE – New baby! Blog started. I still managed to do some Muddy Boots work albeit with baby Ren strapped to my chest. Started the diploma. 
  • NEGATIVE – Lack of time and energy to do much permaculture work this year. 
  • INTERESTING – New networks to explore within the Permaculture work and with a new baby. 


  • Began my ’12 principles for 12 months’ blog post series by looking at Holmgrens principles.
  • Assisted on a PDC
  • Monthly garden updates on the blog – photos, stats, foods harvested etc
  • Started work on Diploma design 2 – Food from my garden. 
  • Began planning a veg box share scheme – ‘homegrown harvest’ with a few veg growing neighbours.
  • Considered doing a design for a friends garden
  • Took on Muddy Boots as my own business when my sister’s role with TCV ended and all funding for the group stopped. 1 session every 2 weeks
  • Started work on Diploma design 3 – Muddy Boots allotment playgroup. 
  • Started work on a design to retro-fit the cabin in a local woodland that we had a part share in.
  • Attended the Permaculture convergence
  • Stared work on Diploma design 4 – My health and wellbeing
  • POSITIVE Probably my most productive year to date with Diploma work. I finally had time set aside each week to work on it. I enjoyed being involved in the PDC. I learnt lots by writing my blog. The designs 2,3,4 that I started this year went on to be useful and successful. 
  • NEGATIVE – I started and abandoned lots of designs this year, my friends garden, the cabin and homegrown harvest. Design write ups took a very long time and felt quite laborious. 
  • INTERESTING -Felt like I’d wasted time by deciding not to pursue various design ideas, but was probably a good learning experience and taught me to focus in on the own life for the diploma. 


  • Pathway planning
  • Assisted on a PDC
  • Continued my ’12 principles for 12 months’ blog post series by looking at Mollison’s principles.
  • Garden updates continued but this year do at dates in the pagan calendar – ie Llamas, summer solstice etc
  • Considered doing a design for my front garden
  • Considered doing a design for my husbands business – Soft touch for their new building’s front garden
  • Continued to lead Muddy Boots allotment playgroup – changed to 1 session each week
  • Began updating and tweaking my garden design
  • Lots of work on Health and wellbeing design
  • Began work on Diploma design 6 – South Leicester food group 
  • Forest school leader training
  • Considered writing a design about how I used permaculture to help my achieve my Forest school leadership.
  • Began leading Forest school sessions in a local woodland
  • POSITIVE – I loved doing my Forest school training. Muddy Boots grew from strength to strength. I began teaching Forest school. I did some quick designs rather than the very long drawn out ones I’d previous completed. 
  • NEGATIVE – Lack of time for permaculture diploma work this year and I had to postpone all my meetings with my tutor. 
  • INTERESTING – Its been a really interesting journey to see how my permaculture and Forest school work have become so inter linked. 


  • Pathway planning and re-accessed if/how to continue with the diploma
  • Wrote up my Pathway design Diploma design 5 – Pathway
  • Attended Diploma gathering
  • Came up with my own 12 principles
  • Health and wellbeing design
  • Began work on design and implementation for Diploma design 7- Muddy Boots garden re-design
  • Continued to lead Muddy Boots allotment playgroup – changed to 2 sessions each week
  • Began leading weekly pre-school Forest school sessions and monthly primary aged FS sessions – branded under Muddy Boots.
  • Started offering Forest school parties and led my first one in December.
  • Began work on Diploma design 8 – Wild roots retreat 
  • POSITIVE – Design 7 was very helpful in getting me through the design process more quickly and being a real boost to where I hold MB sessions. MB growing really well and the forest school felt more established and integrated as an equal part of the business.  
  • NEGATIVE – I started the year feeling very down on my diploma and unsure whether to continue or not. 
  • INTERESTING – My mood changed by the end of the year about the dipoma and I began to see a why through to the end. 


  • Pathway planning and envisioning the remainder of the diploma pathway
  • Prepared for my IPA
  • Passed my IPA
  • Writing up completed on Wild roots retreat
  • Began work on Diploma design 9 – Planning my next steps using natural cycles.
  • Began thinking about my next design and doing some initial research
  • POSITIVE – Passing my IPA with hardly any changes needed was a big high point. I could see how I was going to be able to successfully complete the diploma now.  I enjoyed the process of writing up the wild roots design. I did most of this work initially in a sketchbook while I was in the early planning stages of the design. I then photographed the pages for the write up. This worked really well as I was able to document my thought processes in a way that didn’t slow down my planning. Attending accreditations for Sam and Sarah. 
  • NEGATIVE – I didn’t have much time this year, so didn;t make the progress that I would have liked to. I didn’t manage to get to any permaculture get together this year other than the two accreditations mentioned above.
  • INTERESTING – I felt I was getting to grips with the process more with each design that I worked on. 


  • I completed my natural cycles design and began acting lots of the design.
  • I worked on Diploma design 10 – Wild and healthy
  • I scheduled my final portfolio assessment with my tutor Hannah for 1st March and worked hard towards this.
  • I wrote up all my cover sheets, evaluations, reflections, influences and my designers CV ready for assessment.
  • POSITIVE My natural cycles design was an interesting design to work on and helped me a lot with my business planning for this year. I enjoyed the learning aspect of my wild and healthy design. I enjoyed working with maps and drawing again. It was good to work on a land-based design again.
  • NEGATIVE – I ran out of time really, so would have liked to devote more hours to the wild and healthy design but was beaten by the deadline.
  • INTERESTING – I’ve loved tweaking the design process to experiment with creating my own design processes. I think that by adapting the design process and tools to best suit me, I’ve laid some strong groundwork for using permaculture in my own life on an ongoing basis post diploma. 



IPA. Interim portfolio assessment

This week I passed my IPA, which means that five of my 10 designs for the permaculture diploma have now been assessed and have been passed by my tutor! Woo hoo. I’d been putting off this assessment for over a year, but it was totally fine, 3 of the 5 designs were fine without any changes and 2 other required just minor tweaks or additions. I’ve set myself a new deadline to compete the diploma by spring 2018 and I aim to accredit by summer 2018.  Looking through my work with my tutor makes me realise how much work I’ve done and how far my ideas have travelled in the 5 years since I began studying Permaculture.


My health and wellbeing – Tweak and update.

My health and wellbeing design has been ticking along for approaching four years now. Some of the tools I designed have been very useful in my life and are still regularly used (the weekly blackboard planner) Some are used occasionally (meal planner) and some are now obsolete as my weekly schedule changed over the years (the exercise planner) and have been replaced by other designs and systems that are more fit to purpose. My idea of what health and wellbeing means for me has changed and developed over the years too.

My health and wellbeing is still very much on the agenda, as it should be for everyone! The purpose of this blog post today is to update with where I am now and share some of the tools that are currently working well for me. Some of these tools i’ve designed myself, others are adapted from various sources and some are purchased.


Towards the end of 2016 I read a great book called ‘The desire map ‘ by Danielle LaPorte. Part of the book is a workbook and helps you to plan your year ahead around how you want to feel or your ‘core desired feelings’. I’ve found this a very helpful model to make planning really reflect what you WANT to do rather than just what you NEED to do. So much of my updated health and wellbeing work is structured by my core desired feelings for 2017 which are


I spent a long time deciding on these words, they are very meaningful to me and link to elements, directions and spirituality. I’m not going to go into much detail here about them, but feel its important to share the following.

In Tune – Feeling connected and grounded – Earth – North

Vitality – Feeling uplifted and positive – Air – East

Clarity – Looking forward, making plans, making things happen – Fire – South

Thankful – Looking back, feeling in the flow of life – Water – West

Balanced – The centre of everything, holding it all together – Spirit/ self


I thought I’d make a list of all the tools that I am using and look at how interconnected they all are across the 5 core desired feelings.


To gain clarity about how I use the tools I have laid out how I weave health and wellbeing work into my life at various levels, daily, weekly and monthly.


Here is an example of my daily and weekly planning. I try to make this about all the CDF, so it’s not just work but also exercise, where I am in my cycle, seeing friends etc – thus keeping me balanced.


This is a monthly check in page from my planner. The focus notes are from my Oracle card pulls and the big goals are work and life related, giving me clarity and keeping me focussed. img_5275

This is a planner that I created and trialled for January. It brings a lot of my other tools together into one place so its easy to quickly glance at and keep sight of what I should be doing and why. I’ve laminated this so that it can be used over and over again and adapted as needed.


This is part of a monthly reflection sheet I fill in for the balance club, an online group I am a member of. I like this as its simple and pretty quick to compete. I keep all of these reflections in a folder so that its easy to refer back to and see myself making progress on various areas of my health and wellbeing over the months.


So you can see, my health and wellbeing designs have evolved and changed, taking on influences and inspiration from other sources outside of Permaculture over the years.

I thought at this stage I should check back in on the ethics and principles of permaculture to ensure that this is still a permaculture design, not only for the purpose of passing my diploma, but also as a way of refocusing myself on permaculture and pulling it back into my life. So here we go; permaculture-principles

EARTH CARE – I try to consider earth care around how I purchase my food i.e local produce, grow my own, bulk deliveries to cut own on pollution. I try to care for and connect with the earth by walking, exercising and spending time outdoors everyday. I work outdoors teaching others all about earth care. I notice and tune into the cycles of nature, the moon and cycles with my own body. I use natural skin care products and essential oils that honor the earth rather than deplete it.

PEOPLE CARE – This is very much about self-care for me in the design and I’m not feeling guilty about that! My H&W design has self care and self-love at the core of it. I try to care for others too, by taking care of myself it makes me a better mum, wife, relative and friend to everyone around me. I am setting a good example for my children.

FAIR SHARES – I often share details with friends and family of things I’ve learnt from doing this design. I am a member of numerous online forums where we help each other, sharing advise, support and ideas. I share my skills and experience in my business. One of the primary reasons for beginning this design was that as a mum of 3, I’d put my needs last for many years to the point when I felt depleted, unhealthy and resentful. So my H&W design helped to re-address this balance and ensure I had a fair share of time and energy  directed towards myself.

I thought I’d pull 3 principles at random and reflect on how my health and wellbeing designs link in with them.

INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE – The designs and tools that I use to ensure my H&W stays on a good path are fully integrated into my life and the are integrated with each other also.

OBTAIN A YIELD – My H&W does give me lots of yields, better health, a fitter body, fantastic foods, more mindfulness, more peace, guilt free time for myself, new learning, clarity in my business, better work/life balance.

DESIGN FROM PATTERN TO DETAIL – MY H&W design does this really well I think. I have broad overarching patterns like ‘set 3 most important tasks each morning’ and ‘set monthly goals’  and ‘exercise 3 times each week’ I then fill in the detail effectively. For example today my 3 MIT’s were 1. Do my H&W update on the blog. 2. Take the kids to swimming and climbing’ 3. respond to MB booking enquiries. I add detail each Sunday about how I will fulfil my exercise 3 times each week goal, This week it was 1. swimming with the kids. 2. yoga classes. 3. Gym session and induction on the new machines

So in concluion, yes this is still a design that is in line with permaculture and it is working well for me right now. I’m very open to keep on adapting and tweaking the tools that I use to benefit my H&W over the years. I now feel I have tools on hand to help me keep my life in balance and heading in a healthy direction.

Muddy Boots garden re-design, update on 2016 and looking ahead to 2017

Instead of writing a wordy post explaining how the enlarged and re-designed allotment playgroup space worked, I thought I’d post some pictures for 2016 season instead!


I asked group members about how they felt about the new space and got a few lovely quotations.

X and I love it! It affords much more space for the little ones to move around and explore, with separate sections/beds that emphasise the growing plants/fruit/veg. 🙂

So much more space to run around in, my two love it, especially the larger willow den. It will be so magical next year when it’s all green and leafy. 

The mud pit and the sandpit are a big hit for M, she doesn’t stop talking about Muddy Boots all week! I love being able to chat with my new MB friends while she is happily occupied. Thanks Emily, its fab. 

I have a Facebook page which is updated weekly, you can view it here. Muddy Boots. I also have a website which gets a monthly update. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m enjoying it. Muddy Boots website

2017 planning is in progress. I plan on running 44 sessions across the year at the allotment, 2 sessions each Friday from March till october. I’ve already got a long waiting list of people wanting to book in. Exciting times!

2017 pathway planning

Happy new year! 2017 has arrived, I’m a few days late blogging here as we’ve all been struck down with the dreaded norovirus and have been flat-out for days. Not the ideal start to a new year. However, despite more than my fair share of illness, I am feeling quite organised and positive heading into the new year and I wanted to share some of the main reason why.

  1. I’ve been working on my permaculture diploma pathway design and have created this image below showing the 6 ares of interest that my diploma focusses on and the 12 designs that I will undertake. I have a meeting with my tutor early in January, so my mind has been re-focussed on the diploma and I’d like to complete it in spring 2018.


I’ve been considering the remaining designs that I have to complete for my diploma and trying to decide between the seven ideas that I am interested in. I have done a brief overview of each one’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. I will be coming back to this after my session with my tutor later this month and I will be making a more concrete plan for activity throughout 2017.


UPDATE I’ve created this design for my pathway.

The six central areas with red and brown writing explain the six areas of interest I chose to base my diploma designs around. The spaces shaded in yellow are designs that I’ve completed. 3 additional yellow spaces will be added to make 10 designs before the end of my diploma journey.  The other design ideas listed are either ideas for the future, or activity that I’ve been involved with around the duration of my diploma but have not written up as a design. There is a key explaining this on the design plus notes of whether a design is land or people based and which of the Permaculture ethics it focusses on.



2.                             41bhs87qxrl-_sx258_bo1204203200_

I’ve been reading a book called ‘The desire map – creating goals with soul’ by Danielle Laporte. The book helps you to consider what is really important in your life and what you want to achieve. What makes this book different is that you focus on how you want to feel rather than tasks you want to accomplish. You are encouraged to select 3-5 words for your year, that sum up how you want to feel and then you base your yearly aims around how you will create those feelings in your life. I chose;

Balance Balance Pinterest board

Vitality Vitality pinterest board

Thankful Thankful Pinterest board

Clarity Clarity Pinterest board

In tune In tune Pinterest board

I’ve done lots of work around what those words mean to me and how i can use them to steer my year. I’ve created a Pinterest board for each word to look at whenever I am feeling like I need a boost of energy or a reminder. Click the links above to see the Pinterest boards. The flow diagram show the ways in which I intend to use these words throughout 2017 in order to have a successful and enjoyable year.




I’ve joined an online forum called ‘The balance club’ all about finding balance in all areas of your life, from work life balance, to a more relaxed attitude to food, to self-care to exercise. One thing this has helped me to do is each month reflect on what I’ve done and learnt and to plan out the coming month. I’ve been using this combined with the permaculture 4 questions reflection activity and have created something that works well for me. This is my most recent reflection, looking back on the whole of 2016 and forward to 2017.


4. I’ve invested in a business workbook to help me to take Muddy Boots forward this year. After numerous recommendations I decided to buy ‘My shining year Biz planner’ by an Australian called Leonie Dawson. It’s such a bright, fun and feminine workbook that makes business planning feel achievable and enjoyable. I’m hoping to work through it all during January and then make an action plan.