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!

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Muddy Boots garden re-design

I managed to take a few pictures this week of the site all prepared for my session. I am really pleased with the way it has turned out, the extra space is lovely and I’ve had some great comments from attendees. The den, sandpit, digging area and mud kitchen are being well used, so much so that I am having to reduce my ambitions for structured activities to be achieved each session, as the kids are not keen to be dragged away from these free-play activities!

Muddy Boots allotment playgroup begins!

I completed my to-do list in the nick of time and ran my first session at the allotment this week. It was fantastic! Both morning and afternoon sessions were fully booked and almost everyone turned out despite it drizzling with rain for the entire day. I am so please (and relieved) to have got to this point. It always is a HUGE effort to get the group off the ground again each spring. Now comes the fun bit of running sessions every friday.

I was rushed off my feet all day, so didn’t manage to get any good pics of the site all finished and prepped, but will aim to do this next week. Following are some pics that I did take of the participants enjoying the activities and the re-vamped site.

Forest School skills day

This weekend I attended a Forest school skills development day in a local woodland. I have been to a few of these days before and always loved them. They are a great chance to spend a day in the woods, playing with new ideas, trying out unfamiliar tools and cooking lunch on a campfire. I learnt a lot from the other practitioners and have honed my skills at lighting Kelly Kettles in the pouring rain! The photos show a selection of the things that we got up to.

My Forest school sessions start after the Easter holidays. I will doing two weekly sessions for pre-school kids and their parents and a monthly saturday session for primary aged children. I am also doing two weekly allotment playgroup sessions and teaching photography every monday, so its going to be a busy few months leading up to the summer break! I can’t wait to get started. The build up is always hard, much of the work is front loaded, getting kit and sites sorted, advertising and administrating bookings and preparing my sessions. I enjoy every stage, but actually leading sessions is what I like best and its almost time now!

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Emergency shelter out of a tarp

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3 legged stool

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Stick pictures frame, I thought these could be good for throwing a ball through too

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rope spiders web

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low balance beam

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base camp set up to cook in

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Wild garlic bread

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Shave horse

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Hook

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Gypsy rose

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Gear shelter

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High shelter

Muddy Boots garden re-design CEAP. Plan a schedule of implementation,maintenance, evaluation and tweaks.

IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

MONTH TASK DEADLINE?
February Re-measure and photograph the plot Early feb
Spend a few hours up at the allotment doing observations, sketching and planning the new layout Early feb
Sketch out a base map and play around with possible layouts of the main features Early feb
Get quotes for all building materials and decide where to source these from. Early feb
Buy building materials for fence/gate/play kitchen Half term
Take down the south wall of the existing fence and put up new one Half term
Put in the new gate and tower posts Half term
Put the new bolts on the gates By sessions start
Research mud kitchen ideas and re-do this feature End feb
Clear the movable objects from the newly enlarged space so I can see the layout more clearly End feb
March Draw out my finalised plans Early March
Tidy the shed and do a stock check. Make a list of any equip or materials I need to buy for this seasons activities. Early march
Begin saving tin cans for the allotment planters Early march
Move the sandpit End march
Buy more sand and fill it up By session start
Mark out the triangular bed Early march
Make the willow den Mid march
Cut the grass/ rake over to clear debris Mid march
Buy the marine ply board for the blackboard/ painting board/ spotted board/ welcome signs End march
Install the blackboard/ painting board etc and paint them in situ End march
Define the boundary of the strawberry bed and apple tree guild bed End march
Buy more plastic plates and another thermos flask End march
April Drill holes into the tin can planters Early april
Install the tin can planters and plant up with pansies By session start
Select, print and laminate some photos or pics of fruit/veg/flowers to decorate the picket fence. Put these up with staple gun. By session start
Mow lawns again By session start
Test out gazebos and decide which one to use Early april
Gather ground sheets, blankets etc Early april
Take home and wash and return all snack and drink utensils By session start
Buy washing up liquid, tea, coffee etc plus sponges, wash up equip By session start
Final checks before first session on April 15th By session start

CARRYING OUT THE IMPLEMENTATION

FEBRUARY

We spent three bright and cold days at the allotment over half term. We re-made the fence line and installed a new gate leading out into the wider community allotment.

Day 1 – moving the fence and beginning to re-install it. IMG_1235IMG_1233

Day 2 – completing the fence and putting in the gate

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Day 3. Moving the blue planters, moving a cherry tree, making the triangular corner bed and beginning work on the mud kitchen.


 

The P of CEAP is for Plan a schedule of implementation, maintenance, evaluation and tweaking.

But where is the actual design bit? This seems to come up a lot for me when using Permaculture design process systems. There is lots of detail about how to prepare for producing your design, but it never actually says “now draw your design” why is this?

So I have chosen to draw my design at this point in the design process. As at this point the space was more open and I could visualise the layout more clearly. I sketched out a rough plan for the new design while at the allotment and then worked more on the design at home.

So this is the design that I feel most happy with at the moment, but I am open to making more changes as the project rolls on and the space tells me what it needs. So I’ve kept the design loose, still using pieces of paper on the base map and not drawing it out in full yet.

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UPDATE – Here is the final design drawn out and coloured in!

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and a  close up to show some of the details.

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Muddy Boots garden re-design. CEAP. Collect site information.

Design Project overview

At the moment I am re-designing the area of the community allotment where I run Muddy Boots Allotment Playgroup. We were lucky enough to be awarded £250 from a local funding body at the end of last year. I have managed to squirrel away most of this money and plan on putting it towards physical improvements and enlargements to the space.

My Muddy Boots group is entering its 5th year now, but its only really the 2nd year that I have ran it as a businness with the aim to make money and for it to be my career rather than a hobby. So this year I hope to enlarge the space to be able to fit in more people and to run twice the amount of sessions.

The aim of this Permaculture Diploma design is to enlarge the fenced-in area and re-design the space where the group meets. I initally designed the space as the project I undertook as part of my PDC back in 2012. You can view the original design and process here. My PDC design.

I have decided to use the process C.E.A.P to structure my design. This design process has been chosen for two reasons, firstly because I’ve not used it before and secondly because it seems quite quick and easy compared to other design processes. I need this design process to happen quickly due to a deadline of mid April for the changes to be implimented by when the group begins meeting for our Spring season.

CEAP                                                                                                                                                     Collect site information
Evaluate the information
Apply Permaculture principles
Plan a schedule of implementation, maintenance, evaluation and tweaking


Collect site information

To collect site information I used the following Permaculture tools; meeting with relevant people, observed and measured the space, drew a base map, did a client interview, thought about boundaries and resources, did some wild designing, thought about functions and elements, looked at zones and sectors and took observational photographs.

In October 2015 I had a meeting with Sue, the lead volunteer gardener for the community allotment and we discussed my plans for extention and redesign. She gave me the go-ahead to proceed with the proviso that I do all the implementation and general maintainance myself or with members of my group. I am lucky that Sue is also involved in Permaculture and is very supportive, even if some of the other allotment gardeners have not always been so happy to have a large group of toddlers and children rampaging around their patch!

I measured up the space and drew a rough map showing sizes. I considered how much additional space I would need and where this could be located on adjoining land to make the best use of the plot. This showed me how much additional fencing I would need to purchase. I measured up the existing fencing to try to match fencing for the new area.

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I did a client interview with myself as client to really focus in on why I wanted to do this redesign and what I wanted the outcomes to be. I thought about functions of the space, what my boundaries and resources were.

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I looked in more detail at my boundaries and resources;

Boundaries. The main boundaries are time, money, energy and skills.

Time I have about 10 weeks currently till the site needs to be ready (early feb – mid april) I can devote a few weekends and a few thursdays to implementing the design.

Money I have £250 funding plus £50 saved from last years takings, so a total of £300 available to cover all expenses. This must include plants, seeds, compost and this years resources I need to buy in advance.

Energy I have some time put aside to devote to the design and implementation. I will have some help from my husband and can maybe suggest to the group that they can help too if they’d like to. Maybe the community allotment volunteers could do some jobs on tuesday mornings? I need to talk to Sue about this.

Skills I have very basic skills in woodworking. I am good at gardening, creative jobs and garden design. I need help with the heavy lifting and technical stuff. Lots of the jobs will require two or more people.

Resources on site that I can use in my redesign.

  • 1 wooden pallet 100 x 120 cm
  • 4 decking boards 200 x 15 cm (currently sandpit edging)
  • 4 decking boards 150 x 15 cm (currently sandpit edging)
  • 2 tractor tyres
  • 20 15cm square block paving tiles
  • 7 planks 12ft x 15cm (currently made into a raised bed)
  • Possible to prune the willow to make a den or structure
  • Various paving slabs and planks of assorted sizes

To stop myself getting too bogged down in the detail and to see the bigger picture again, I did some wild design thinking and came up with some outlandish ideas just for fun. I have had some time, space, money, help, ownership of the land then I’d love to do some or all of these crazy ideas!

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Then I brought myself back to reality and I thought about what elements were already in the space and what I wanted to keep, remove, change and add.

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Next I looked back at my original basemap drawn for the site in 2012 where I had added notes about the zones and sectors of the site. IMG_1448

These initial observations were pretty accurate, so I used this to do an updated base map showing the increased plot size and what was currently on site. The portion of the space to the left hand side of the dotted line is the new area that we will be expanding into.

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I took some more photos of the site as it is now, 3rd feb 2016 for reference and to help me with my designing.IMG_0857The new boundary will follow the existing fenceline out to almost the end of the dug bed in the middle of the picture then turn 90 degrees and meet the fence. This will enlarge the space available to me by approximately a third.

IMG_0867Looking over the existing fenceline to the area that will now be included. The area currently includes a raised bed, two barrel planters, a small cherry tree, a wire and wood fence and material storage.

IMG_0861The fencing can be reused. I will take down the fence at the east end of the plot and reuse this elsewhere. There are two sections of picket fence here 1 is 10.5 ft long and the other is 12 ft long. The fences look like they have been purchased as individual elements and constructed to fit the site. It should be possible to take them down as two pieces and then remove the fence posts or use them within my design.


 

My garden 2015

You may remember this photographic post that I did last new year’s day.

My garden 2014 Here this this years version.


From the deck looking south down the garden

IMG_5032Winter solstice 2014 Dec 21st

IMG_5507Imbolc Feb 2nd

IMG_5801Spring equinox March 20th

IMG_6212Beltane May 1st

IMG_7067Summer solstice June 21st

Lammas Aug 2nd (Missed as away on holiday)

IMG_9020Autumn equinox Sept 23rd

IMG_9731Samhain Oct 31stIMG_0408Winter solstice Dec 22nd


The main food growing areaIMG_5182IMG_7073IMG_9018IMG_9733IMG_0409


The view up the garden to the house looking northIMG_5186IMG_5822IMG_6228IMG_7082IMG_9001IMG_9735IMG_0414