Allotment design – summary

My first attempt at a land-based design as a present for my mother, designing her allotment. It was definitely a steep learning curve.

Land based designDesign Framework: SADIMETDesign for a clientDesigned alone

Design period: November 2012 – October 2013

Client: My Mum

Why is this design included?

I did this design before I officially started my diploma, but I have decided to include it in my portfolio as it was my first ‘proper’ permaculture design I completed after my design course and as such it is an interesting and informative step on my learning journey. Once I started my diploma, I was given lots of advice and guidance which I wasn’t aware of while doing this design and so it is useful to me for illustrating the truth and usefulness of this advice! I also wanted to take the opportunity to reflect and learn from this design.


My personal aims for this design were to have a go at doing a land based design and also to try and help my Mum to get a greater yield from her allotment, while making it less of a burden.

Key learning

To pay close attention to a clients motivations and the ‘why’ of their vision and not be afraid to question the ‘what’ they are suggesting.

Top tips

  • Make sure you do a thorough observation and survey at the beginning – take proper measurements, test variables like soil type, use tools like PASTE
  • Take lots of photos – especially before and after ones – these are not only useful as a record, but you can do some observation you forgot on site using them
  • Make sure your functions are measurable, so that you can evaluate your success, eg. SMART goals
  • Don’t just use techniques because they are ‘permaculture’, design for the unique situation and understand the function of a technique
  • Having a proper implementation plan is really important for maintaining momentum, especially if you are not designing for yourself
  • Growing Strawberries on the edge of raised beds works well as it keeps them off of the ground

Design Tools used

Design tools used

Skills practiced

Skills practiced


Earthcare – the purpose of this design was as an environmentally friendly Christmas present and its main function was producing local, organic food. Within the design I included earthcare techniques like no dig, mulching, areas of zone 5 and low resource use.

Peoplecare – the design came about through wanting to help my mum address the challenges she was facing with her allotment and to support her, this worked to a certain extent although I think it almost made her feel more guilty when she wasn’t implementing my design! I consciously thought about the peoplecare aspects of the client evaluation interview, including doing it on holiday where we were both relaxed.

Fair Shares – I did include in the design thoughts around sharing excess produce with others. I could of reflected on this ethic early in the design to realise that my Mum already had a lot of growing opportunities and maybe in the spirit of Fair Shares someone else might value it more.


Obtain a yield  Use small and slow solutions

I particularly focused on these two principles because one of the reasons that my mother was losing motivation was because she was not seeing sufficient yield for the effort she put in. And equally she did not have a lot of time to give to it, so small, slow solutions were important for making it practical for her.

Design Process Flow chart

Design Process Flow Chart


Writing up and Evaluation

I had to get the design phase finished for Christmas 2012 as it was intended as a Christmas present. I wrote this design up initially for my second tutorial and I completed the evaluation phase first in order to do this.  I have included nearly all of the design in this write up as it is not that big. The only things not included are the details of my workings out for the design and the factsheets which I prepared to go with the design.

Evaluation tools used

Evaluations tools used

Now go to the full design write up.

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