Permaculture

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In 2016 I did a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) and in 2019 was awarded my Permaculture Diploma.

To pass the diploma you must study for a minimum of 2 years, have completed a PDC and present 10 designs for your portfolio. The designs are marked according to appropriacy of the frameworks and tools used (and those tools are drawn from sources far and wide eg De Bono's Thinking Hats, SWOC* analysis). Having completed it I am now qualified to teach permaculture and to create designs for others.

The designs are listed below. They are intended to give a brief overview and list the salient points. The ethics (people care, earth care, fairshare, future care) were all included in each design and principles used Holmgren, Mollison and Slay (eg observe and interact, everything gardens). These are implicit in the designs and for brevity have been omitted in the summary.

More details about any of them are available on request.

 

My 10 Diploma Portfolio designs:

Design 1
Kitchen Plan

This design added small elements to a north facing kitchen that made it function more effectively.
Framework: SADIMET (Survey, Analyse, Design, Implement, Maintain, Evaluate, Tweak)
Tools: Base maps, Overlays, Sector anaysis, Microclimates, McHarg's exclusion model.
Key successes: Making crockery and wooden boards more accessible and warm by putting them on new shelves over the radiator; designing a hanging system for herbs in the window with a pulley system for easy access; implementing new systems for waste water collection (for the garden) and excess hot water collection (into a flask)
Key challenges and how they were overcome: to increase light and warmth into the room - overcome by placing plants between rather than in front of the window, capturing the warmth that was there (through the plates etc.) and by additional curtain insulation on the doorways.
 
Design 2 Column Design (Greening the Estate) Part of the code 5 Hull residency.

This design involved painting a column on a parade of shops on a housing estate. The aim was to make it relevant to the community and aesthetically pleasing. Situated outside the Chemists, the result was a pattern based on a willow tree trunk (the willow tree being connected to aspirin) which looked like people dancing.
Framework: SORDID (Spontaneous, Organic, Resource Driven, Inspired Design)
Tools: Sector anaysis, Client interview,
Key successes: Positive engagement with local people, including painting participation by some passers by. Positive and enthusiastic engagement from the Chemist's shop. Local people liked it. Minimal resources were used and mainly recycled/reused ones.
Key challenges and how they were overcome: my own mental criticism of the work - overcome by the mantra 'good enough for now, safe enough to try'.

Design 3 Diploma Pathway

This design culminated in the design of a notebook / diary that was the driving force behind me completing my Diploma in the time I'd set myself (3 years).
Framework: OBREDIMET (Observation, Boundaries, Resources, Evaluate, Design, Implement, Maintain, Evaluate, Tweak)
Tools: Looby's Web, GROW*, Zones, Input/Output, Mindmap, Web of connections, McHarg's Exclusion model.
Key successes: Beautiful notebook with a fold out inside cover with questions for focus at different points in the lunar month. Others bought a copy of the notebook for their own use.

Key challenges and how they were overcome: Stagnation at the start of the process of trying to design my whole diploma all at once - overcome by a quick win of designing the notebook; the questions I used first of all being too in depth - overcome by being flexible (permaculture principle: observe and interact) and simplifying the questions in subsequent additions.

Design 4 Straw Bale Planters (Greening the Estate) Part of the code 5 Hull residency

This design consisted of straw bale planters positioned outside the same parade of shops as the column. In them grew vegetables and fruit that were free to be picked by local people.
Framework: SORDID and CEAP (Collect, Evaluate, Apply permaculture principles, Plan)
Tools: Base maps, Overlays, Sector anaysis, Microclimates, SWOC*, Stacking.
Key successes: Positive contributions and ownership from the local community,
Supply of salad crops, vegetables and fruit. Huge engagement with local people because of the curiosity it generated.
Key challenges and how they were overcome: A concern that the bales would be vandalised - inadvertently overcome by the addition of manure (seemingly vandals don't like to get their clothes dirty!) The straw bales were too fresh and new and didn't rot down as quickly as expected - overcome by pulling a lot of the straw out of the top and putting soil in instead.Because of the heat generated, some of the plants growth was inhibited, this wasn't really overcome, but was a learning point, and some plants in later stage of growth were put in instead. Any spare plants were distributed around the community.

Design 5 Making a North Facing Yard productive

This design aimed to increase the productivity of a small north facing yard of a back-to-back house. It's yields were for the inhabitants (edible crops) and the local wildlife (birds, insects etc)
Framework: OBREDIMET and SADIMET
Tools: Base maps, Overlays, Zones, Sector anaysis, Client interview.
Key successes:
Generous yield of herbs, salad, fruit (enough to share with neighbours). Growing in the gravel seemed to reduce the intrusion of the local cats. A small pond provided water for the birds. Increased contact with neighbours.
Key challenges and how they were overcome: Physically building some of the structures - overcome by help from friends.

Design 6 Eating better whilst living semi nomadically

This design aimed to understand better my relationship with food whilst I lived partly in Hull and partly in Leeds during an art residency. It was motivated by a dissatisfaction of what I was eating and a plan to improve it.
Framework: CEAP
Tools: Client interview, Mindmap, SWOC*, Food diary
Key successes:
Revelations as to how my body responds to certain foods, Flexible planning by using a 'keep-it-in-the-cupboard' method, so that certain raw materials were always available for a healthy meal. Identification of alternative shops in both locations. Sharing food and food orders with friends. Learning new recipes.
Key challenges and how they were overcome: Realising that when I'm hungry I have no resources to think ethically, sustainable or any other positive-for-the-planet thought about where I will obtain my next meal - having preprepared healthy snacks and the keep-it-in-the-cupboard resource reduced this.

Design 7 Designing my Allotment

I had had my allotment for 8 years before I did this design. Ultimately it was to try and put in a more permaculture structure and to think more longer term ie succession planning and to increase the yields. It was also a learning space to implement things I'd read about eg companion planting including the 3 sisters.
Framework: Whitefield's Model
Tools: Base maps, Overlays, Sector anaysis, Client interview, Microclimates, SWOC*, Stacking
Key successes:
My allotment had structure! Designing rotation for the plants and having a piece of paper to say where each bed was really helped when planting up in the second year. Whilst implementing I carried the design in an A4 folder with overlays, this was really helpful and avoided the lethargy that had previously set in when I'd arrive at the allotment of not knowing which bit to start on first.
Key challenges and how they were overcome: Being patient enough to wait for the right times to implement - helped by having a very clear plan.

Design 8 Writing Design

As part of my artist's practice I write. A lot. I really wanted to do a design to help me collate these writings in some way and get them into some more manageable form to share with others.
Framework: Dragon Dreaming (see online information)
Tools: These were all specific to the Dragon Dreaming model.
Key successes:
I had a framework from which to start looking at the notebooks and identified some blockages that were holding me back. Sharing them with some friends and getting helpful and encouraging responses.
Key challenges and how they were overcome: Disappointment with the slowness of the process and how little I progressed the aims - overcome by realising it wasn't the right time to fully address this design and that the achievements I made with it were enough for the moment.

Design 9 Applying permaculture to a nearly one acre garden

This beautiful garden with nooks and crannies, woodland, wild areas, lawn, a pond, herbaceous borders, a little fruit, a few vegetables... The owners asked me to do a design that would fit with permaculture ideas.
Framework: SADIMET
Tools: Base maps, Overlays, Zones, Sector anaysis, Client Interview, PASTE*, Microclimates, Soil analysis, Random assembly, McHarg's Exclusion model.
Key successes:
Huge learning in identifying plants and trees. Building on what I'd done with overlays in other projects was magnified in this design. it was helpful to see the scale - this was probably the maximum size I'd do on regular (A1) paper. Counting brought into stark reality the things that already existed eg water available, counting the holly trees etc. This made a big impact on how I designed and thought about the opportunity for yields across the site.
Key challenges and how they were overcome: Very little of the design was implemented in reality, which meant we couldn't see how it worked in practice. However, hopefully in time, some of it will be put in. There were small wins eg broad beans, tall peas and mange tout in the flowerbeds.

Design 10 Keeping the momentum and co-coaching

As I got to the end of the Diploma I started looking at what next, which led me onto what motivates us to do what we do and how can we get more motivated. I got interested in flow, in particular that which is being explored by the Flow Genome Project. The design started getting large and unwieldly and I realised I had to parr it down and make it more manageable. As a result it became a design for 2 workshops at the Diploma Gathering exploring momentum and co-coaching.
Framework: SADIMET
Tools: CEAP, Looby's Web, Mindmap, PMI*, Aranya's flow model, Dragon dreaming
Key successes:
The workshops were well received. The design was small and sweet and felt a good way to round off the diploma.
Key challenges and how they were overcome: writing up the design for the assessors was challenging as I couldn't work out how to apply the flow work (which was a semi written up design) with the workshops - I resolved it by providing the flow work as an appendix. In the workshop I realised what I was explaining was understood differently to how I was anticipating. Observing and interacting with this moved the workshop in a different direction, which was positive, but also showed me how I couldn't make assumptions with my explanations.

 

* GROW = Goal, Reality, Options, Will to act, SWOC = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Constraints, PASTE = Plants, Animals, Structures, Tools, Events, PMI = Plus, Minus, Interesting