Veg Patch design – Full

Read the Design Summary first


In early June 2013 I moved house and was given free rein on a large and weedy vegetable patch. Living further out from town I did not have the access to fresh, local, organic food that I was used to and wanted. Growing my own seemed a good solution.

I have dabbled in food growing in the past, but I would not say I am very experienced. I did however, have a lot of enthusiasm and had read a fair few books and articles that had inspired me in different methods I could try. I also wanted to build on my learnings from the allotment design that I did for my mum.

The Design


As it was already well into the growing season when I started, I decided to use 2013 primarily as observation time and aim for a design for the 2014 growing season. To this end I took some photos and recorded the success of my small scale growing that year.

It was pretty rampant, but my housemate James did a grand job of clearing it all. I did, however, have lots of Earthcare guilt about the exposed and disrupted soil ecosystems.

Houlston Veg Patch 2013 - Houlston Veg Patch 2013

Clearing in progress

Houlston Veg Patch - Growing in 2013

Growing in 2013

Houlston Veg Patch 2013 - Rather a lot of thistles...

Rather a lot of thistles…

Houlston Veg Patch - We discovered some wonderful soft fruit!

We discovered some wonderful soft fruit!

In the meantime I was reading through Aranya’s book Permaculture Design – a step by step guide and reflecting on my previous land-based design. This gave me lots of ideas for taking forwards. So I started by taking measurements to put together a basemap and discovered string and a short tape measure is no substitute for a proper surveying tape measure! Nevertheless I did my best using my smart phone to take bearings too. When it came to drawing it up there was definitely  a bit of inaccuracy, but I concluded that for what I was doing that level of inaccuracy wasn’t a big problem.

Sketch map

Sketch map

I also surveyed the plants already there and rated their frequency with the DAFOR scale. It was really interesting to actually identify all of the ‘weeds’ that were growing. I could not deduce a clear pattern from them though in terms of where they like to grow, apart from disturbed ground! It would have been interesting to have done this before it was cleared too, when the plant communities were more established.

I also did an inventory of all of the seeds that I had gathered from various sources – some donated from my mum, some hanging around in the house and some spare ones of Bills. I sorted them into what time of year they needed planting so it was easy to find. I was introduced to James Wong’s book James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution and I got inspired so I bought some seeds for people for Christmas and to save on postage I bought some for myself as well, but as I did not have a plan by that point it was a little bit random which I chose.

Houlston Veg Patch Journal

Houlston Veg Patch Journal

I did a small amount of growing in 2013, mostly with spare plants that my mum bought up for me. I kept it all in a small patch and tried out a few techniques like mulching with the weeds I had just pulled up. I kept a record of everything that I did in a notebook, my housemate James also created a blog for recording our experiments, but I never got round to writing on it. I had mixed success, but I learnt things such as that mulching can increase the numbers of slugs and also did quite  a lot of unrecorded observation.

This is as far as I had got by the time the year turned and I was starting to get a bit anxious about getting a design together as I knew that I needed to start planting seeds soon.

So I continued with my information gathering by doing some soil tests in a few sites and discovered there was more clay than I had expected, however trying to do a more thorough jam jar soil test just confused me, because there was still so much suspended sediment when I was supposed to mark the boundary between sand and silt that I couldn’t see where the surface of the sediment was and then as the sediment settled over the next few days it ‘sunk’ and so the levels for clay were also inaccurate, although you could quite clearly see the clay layer.

soil testing sheet

Soil testing sheet

Site 1 Soil test

Site 1 Soil test

Site 2 soil test

Site 2 soil test

With this information I drew up my basemap and an overlay of existing plants and soils.

My original basemap

Existing plants overlay - top left

Existing plants overlay – top left

Existing plants overlay - top right

Existing plants overlay – top right

Existing plants overlay - bottom right

Existing plants overlay – bottom right

Existing plants overlay - bottom left

Existing plants overlay – bottom left

Trying to spot frost patternsI then came to sectors… I had a go at spotting frost patterns, where it lingered and where it melted; I went out in the pouring rain to see if water pooled anywhere or drained in any particular pattern; I chose a windy day and put out a load of plastic bags on sticks to try and discern patterns in the winds flow. I could not discern much variation across the patch from any of them, but there were a few site wide discoveries – the hedge provided a little shelter from frost underneath it; there was no pooling of water even during heavy rain, in fact the whole patch was raised up from the road where water did pool; and there was not enough wind at a metre height to blow the bags even when it was quite windy.

Observations of sectors and systems

Observations of sectors and systems

Observations of sectors and systems

Observations of sectors and systems

Now the sector where there was variation across the patch was in shading, but having not thought about it in advance I did not have observations from other times of year to use. So I decided to try out the sun compass. The instructions on it were not that clear, so although I had a go I was not sure whether I had done it right. When I tried to turn it into a sun sector overlay I was skeptical of the results, so I referred back to some photographs I had taken in the summer as well as an aerial photo taken around the autumn equinox and observations at the time which was the spring equinox to try and corroborate it. I concluded that I had too much shadow using the sun compass so I ended up using the accurate information from the photos and observations and then extrapolating and using my recordings to guesstimate the rest.

Sun Sector Overlay

Sun Sector Overlay

I also found the long term weather data for the area.

Consulting the house

Consulting the house

Client Interview

Client Interview

The remainder of the Survey stage was looking at what was wanted. So I did a consultation with everyone else in the house and then a much more detailed Client Interview with myself.




The process of putting together the basemap and looking through the results of all of the surveying started off the analysis in my head. I then considered all of this information and used it to identify the key functions of the design. I also set myself some SMART goals around these functions.

Key functions and SMART goals

Key functions and SMART goals

From these I attempted to start thinking about the systems that I would need to meet the functions, but I found this quite challenging as the space was quite simple and therefore did not need lots of systems in it beyond growing plants. So I ended up starting with a different tack of writing a list of the plants that I wanted to grow. As I did not already have the knowledge of the growing preferences of these plants I decided that I would create a database which I could then use to help me plan which plants I would grow where. So I created a comprehensive database which you can see a sample of below.

Plant Planner database

Plant Planner database

This helped me to see which seeds or plants I did not have and would like. Through this and discussing emerging ideas with other people, I got donations of more seeds as well as a gifts of lots of native wild flower seeds for my birthday.

I also did a wider sketch map of the location of the veg patch marking on the zones and the flows of people.

Sketch map of zones and flows

Sketch map of zones and flows


This where it started to get a bit mixed up, because the season was progressing and I was aware that I needed to start planting seeds and clearing ground now, but I did not have a design finished and so I tried to split my time between the two! For the ease of understanding I will still write about them as separate stages though.

I then went back to the functions and set about identifying elements that could meet them.



These ended up quite process orientated as the key features of water and composting etc were already fixed in location. So although they clarified the approach I would like to take they did not contribute too much to the physical layout, apart from the access side. That is therefore where I focused next, planning the network of paths. With not a great deal of variation across the patch to affect things I designed a network of paths which were visually appealing but gave good access to all beds. I divided the plot into areas so that I could work in small achievable steps. I then used my spreadsheet as well as further internet and book research to put together some polycultures to try out, aiming for a mix of heights and similar planting timings. I then assigned these to each of the areas, depending on how high they grew to minimise shading.

Design layout - whole

Design layout – whole

Design layout - top left

Design layout – top left

Design layout - bottom right

Design layout – bottom right

Design layout - bottom left

Design layout – bottom left


By the time I had  finished my design I had already got so far with actions and into the season that it was too late to put together an implementation plan, let alone a maintenance plan. I was essentially winging it trying to use my emerging design to inform my actions.

Growing seeds indoors

Growing seeds indoors

Planting seeds

Planting seeds

From necessity I created myself an indoor seed growing area with a giant bit of cardboard covered in foil to try and improve the amount of light there. My landlord had thrown away all of the plastic plant pots so I got inventive with recycled containers with mixed success! I did successive sowing of seeds and managed to keep on top of watering and weeding out the unwanted extras from the homemade compost.

board paths

Board paths

I did intend to start small and keep it achievable. I decided to try and think ahead a bit, so I cleared away some vegetation from one area & covered it in cardboard, compost and black plastic. I covered another area with carpet I found in part of the plot without clearing the vegetation. I realised that I had nothing to make paths out of! I found a few wooden planks, which I put to use as some rather more angular paths.

I then slowly started clearing areas, only removing surface growth though, not digging. My intention was to sow and plant the areas as I cleared them so that it would supress the weeds. Unfortunately I don’t think any of the seeds I planted straight into the soil grew! The weeds however, did!

I got a delivery of partially rotted cow poo from the farm which I spread over an area and it definitely stopped any weeds growing as it was quite acidic still. I planted tomatoes though it and they were fine.

I planted some of the plants out and nearly all of them slowly succumbed to slugs…

Weeded, raked and resown

Weeded, raked and resown

Blackcurrants cleared

Blackcurrants cleared & grass left on ground as a mulch

By mid June I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and disheartened. I sat and did a bit of a review and decided to just focus on tending and improving the areas that I had already cleared, giving myself a much more manageable focus.  This immediately gave me a much more positive outlook and so I went back to some of the areas in progress and weeded them and attempted to rake over the soil to make more of a seedbed and planted a salad polyculture. I also planted out all of the mint plants my mum had given me and James cleared all of the vegetation from around the blackcurrants. Collectively this had a big positive psychological impact.

Then at the end of June the context changed as I decided that I would be probably moving house before the next growing season. This vastly reduced my motivation for thinking longterm as I doubted that anyone else would care for any of it when I had left. So I set to encouraging the wildlife and supporting the plants that were already doing well (minimum input for maximum output), foraging from outside of the plot and harvesting my learnings from the process.


I never got to this point in either the designing or the doing.


I evaluated this design as an integral part of writing it up, going back through all of the documentation, reminding myself and reliving the process, capturing reflections and learnings as I went. In this section I will focus on the content of the design.

What went well?

  • A few things did well and gave me a yield:
    • I got a reasonable number of tomatoes before the blight got them
    • The spinach and chard survived the winter and then produced lots of seeds which I harvested
    • The mint and salad burnett were happy
    • The herb patch which I didn’t specifically include in my design but which I tended and used as it was outside the backdoor, flourished with my attention
    • I got a good crop of chilli peppers and a couple of little sweet bell peppers
    • A few purple beans!
    • Emergent bittercress and chickweed were great
    • Broad beans
  • Some other things thrived but I didn’t harvest them:
    • the cardoon
    • the jerusalem artichokes (too early)
    • the potatoes (because I left it until after the tops had gone and I couldn’t find them…
    • It got me outside and getting exercise!
    • I have a plant database for using in the future

What was challenging?

  • Having minimal practical growing experience and lots of theory
  • Growing seeds outside straight in the ground
  • Not having someone to ask for advice
  • Slug proofing
  • Keeping on top of weed growth in a large area
  • Fitting it in around everything else in life

What I would do differently next time? And have learnt.

  • Mulching can encourage slugs
  • Seeds like a seedbed, much better germination rate
  • Never underestimate nature, you might think something has died, but it may return!
  • Over winter manure before planting into it
  • Snapped off tomatoes regrow roots if you put them in water, a solution for straggly tomatoes?
  • Actually eat your harvest, don’t ‘save’ it as it will go off
  • Beans don’t like growing down a piece of string, pull it taught and up!
  • Squash loves growing directly into manure
  • Tell people if you are saving a ‘weed’, make sure everyone is clear – saves heart ache when they pull it out!
  • Clearing surface vegetation gets rid of quite a lot of weeds, but the persistent ones like dandelion and dock will be there a long time without digging them out
  • Exposed soil can form a hard crust on top – not great for seeds
  • Start collecting resources well in advance, eg. cardboard
  • I am passionate about foraging and nowhere near as motivated by growing, so maybe foraging could be my focus and supporting and tweaking my local ecosystem

Did I meet my SMART goals?

  • By the end of September 2014 food grown in the Veg patch will have replaced our veg box – I did not reach this SMART goal. Looking back it does not seem particularly realistic! I am not sure that I comprehended the time and effort it takes to establish & maintain a system that productive.
  • From June 2014 there will be salad leaves and fresh produce available year round – I had a year round supply of salad burnett and herbs! I did not really meet this SMART goal either.
  • The veg patch will be maintainable on half a day per week – I did not get to this stage, but I was not managing to give half a day to implementation so I am not sure if I would have been able to give half a day to maintenance even if I had achieved this. 
  • In Summer 2014 there will be over 15 species of insect in the Veg patch – I did not measure this.
  • By May 2014 rain water will be being captured and used – I did not manage to identify somewhere to capture it from. I was also aware that I was not planning on staying around and so I was less motivated towards longer term actions.
  • The Veg Patch will require watering less than once a week in summer 2014 – Well it got watered less than once a week, but I am not sure that that is the same thing!

I am surprised that I don’t have a SMART goal around my learning and experimenting as that was definitely one of my main reasons for doing the design and it had a big influence on the way I did things. I definitely got a substantial yield of learnings.

Overall Evaluation

Design Framework Evaluation: SADIMET

I am not sure that I fully did this design framework justice as I did not really get to the Implementation and maintenance plans, which I can see on reflection would have been very valuable. However, with the much more comprehensive guidance from Aranya’s book I felt that the SAD parts worked well for this land-based design and I feel like I have got much more of a feel for and understanding of it as a framework. The really comprehensive surveying was very useful, although I underestimated how long it would take!

A minor frustration I have come across before was the lack of capturing of ideas as you go along. I did in fact make myself an ideas sheet, but I still do not see a space for this in the framework before the Decisions stage and as I find that the process of Surveying and Analysis generates lots of ideas this is an energy leak in the framework.

I also did not follow the process very linearly, mainly this was due to time pressures meaning I needed to make decisions before I had finished surveying. However, there are also some aspects which I felt contributed to several of the stages, such as the plant planning database which although I have included it in Decisions it contributed to surveying, analysis and decisions. Having used the design web quite a lot I am used to a less fixed process and I am happy that as my confidence as a permaculture designer grows I am happy to make frameworks suit my designing style, by tweaking and adapting them. I also constantly tweaked the design as I was implementing it and doing further observation of the current context.

Tools used Evaluation

Design tools evaluation

Design Process Evaluation

What went well?

  • Trying lots of different tools and techniques that I was interested in
  • Really taking the time to observe and survey everything thoroughly, there was so much I discovered
  • Going through the design process really thoroughly, I now know what is involved and so will be able to be better prepared next time
  • Reviewing and tweaking the design as I went along
  • Lots of learning and observing throughout that has contributed a lot to my understanding

What was challenging?

  • Not having the right tools for the job, eg. not having a surveying tape
  • Working out shade mapping without proper observation
  • Trying to use tools out of a book, not having someone with practical experience with them to demonstrate
  • Not leaving enough time to do all the surveying and designing before implementing needed to begin
  • Not having the experience in growing to input into the design process
  • Trying to manage the entire Veg Patch

What would I do differently next time?

  • Really observing through the seasons, recording sectors, plants etc
  • Aim to finish the design in the autumn before,  so mulching etc can be done.
  • Go for quality rather than quantity focus on a small area and do it well, then build on that foundation
  • It is okay for you to have worked some things out in your head, it doesn’t all have to be a really thorough, conscious decision, your brain can be more powerful at solving complex situations than logical thought is!
  • Have regular check-ins on progress and vision, to allow for tweaking and momentum
  • Make sure I leave time to do the Implementation and Maintenance plans, they are important
  • Get more practical experience in growing to input into designing
  • Be honest about limits, it is better to assume you have less time to give than over burden yourself
  • Now I have a greater understanding of the tools I might need, trying to get hold of them for when I need them
  • Find a demonstration of someone using a sun compass

Learnings update

Since moving house I have had a few opportunities to move forwards from this design. I am lucky now to be in a situation where I live with lots of people growing food, which allows me to join in and learn without having overall responsibility for making it work.

We also have Anni Kelsey, author of Edible Perennial Gardening, who is going to be doing a couple of experimental beds on our land, which is a wonderful opportunity for me to get involved and learn about polycultures and perennials in a practical situation. I was also able to bring a bit of my experience to the situation in terms of suggesting that we put a ground cover over the whole beds to begin with so that we can put in the polycultures at our own pace. Also I am going to design the pathways for one of the beds using the same principles and ideas I used in this design, but this time we will properly wood chip them and be able to test them out properly. I also shared my plant database with Anni and others involved and as a result of this it has been used as a resource in an Intro to Permaculture course.

Finally I have done a mini design for the window box outside my bedroom window, really making use of my learning to keep it small and manageable! You can see the design in the mindmap below.

Window box design - SurveyWindow box design - AnalysisWindow box design - decisions, implementation and maintenance

Window box harvest

Window box harvest

Window box in August 2015

Window box in August 2015

Facilitator Livelihood Pathway design – Full

Read the Design Summary first


I did my first PDC at a point when I was considering a new direction in my livelihood. Permaculture captured my imagination, particularly around people-based designing, partly as a way of deducing and designing this new direction. Facilitation and teaching has always been something I have had an aptitude and enthusiasm for and I have been involved in numerous alternative learning situations, although never as a full-time job.

When the People and Permaculture Facilitators Training Course came up I was thrilled as it perfectly met the two functions I was after in one go – namely increasing my People and Permaculture and my facilitation knowledge, experience and skills, as well as being a gateway to this as a right livelihood. Enthusiastic as I was, I still went into the course without the self-confidence that I was anywhere near this becoming a reality. The journey of the course and this design have taken me a long way towards realising my dream and building my confidence.

This design was a ‘requirement’ of the course, but it is one I would have almost certainly started anyway.

The Design

I decided to follow the pattern of the anchor point sessions that we were having on the course so that I could harvest and use the inspiration that came from each of these. As I had used the design web several times myself already I wanted to try out some different techniques too.

ReflectionSo I started with reflecting on my current situation. I wasn’t sure what to reflect on, but in the end reflected on my experience so far. I also reflected on a question suggested by Pauline looking back on where I was exactly one year ago.


AppreciationI then took the time to appreciate everything that had bought me to this point. I also came up with a couple of actions to show appreciation to myself and others.


PauseI took quite a lot of pause time at the beginning of my design as I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the course and was concerned about finding time to do this design. It felt good to be able to count this pausing as part of my designing, so I could still consider myself as making progress!

VisionI was struggling to clarify the vision for my design, feeling like what I was coming up with was really vague and therefore not very motivating. I shared my frustrations with Demian and he introduced me to the idea of the Golden Circle, where the why of your vision is the most important followed by the how and then the what.

Golden Circle

I had been very much focussing on the what so I took some time to digest this advice and have a think about my why. I found it a really useful approach and came up with lots of different whys, but getting them into one succinct sentence was challenging! So I decided to let it go for a while and whilst I was out on a walk the perfect sentence came to me, encapsulating my inspiring vision. I have still kept the details around the edge.


HelpsFor the helps anchor point I wanted to try something different from just brainstorming with a mindmap, so I used one of the session suggestions and tried drawing things which represented each help. I found this a bit broad though, so I also annotated the drawings with how they could help. All this drawing also inspired me to present all of my other anchor points beautifully too. This helped increase my creativity and my positivity towards the design.

I found doing the helps really beneficial as at that point in the course I was feeling a bit at a loss as to how I was going to carry this on when I got home, but I found it really easy to come up with lots of helps, so realised that I did have a lot of resources I could draw on.

Helps #1 Helps #2

LimitsI started capturing my limits quite early on as the course was stretching a lot of my edges, making them pretty clear! So I noted down all the ones that came up. The context also meant that the focus of my limits is very personal, rather than physical.

I was interested to find that one of the limits linked back to my reflection on where I was a year ago and I wonder whether it might have been that start of that pattern.


IdeasI had been noting down any inspiration and ideas I had as I went along, but I also sat down and spent time blue sky thinking too, trying really hard as Peter suggested to think outside the box and explore the marginal, using the anchor points I had already done as inspiration. I had a revelation during one of these sessions when I realised the design was not just about me delivering courses, but also my pathway of growing and developing as a facilitator (which seems obvious now!).


PatternsA lot of the patterns were captured during the sessions on this anchor point,  I came to writing them up after a session on the shadow side and handling emotions.  We had had a discussion that it is not helpful to label emotions positive or negative, as they are all valid reactions to experiences and situations. So similarly I realised that I did not want to label my patterns spirals of abundance or erosion, but merely considered them in two different directions.

Patterns #1 Patterns #2

PrinciplesMy approach to the principles anchor point was inspired by Angela sharing that she always put all of her ideas through all of the principles and ethics and if they didn’t meet them then she discarded them. So I gave this a go with all of the ideas that I had come up with so far. I found it a very interesting process, I wasn’t always sure if an idea did meet a principle, but I was pleased at how many of the principles they did meet.  It was also great for inspiring me on ways I could take ideas forward using certain principles as guidance.

I found that on the ethics Earthcare and Peoplecare came naturally, but I hadn’t always considered Fair Shares and so I drew circles where I wanted to explore the implications of this ethic further.


PatternsI noticed a pattern as I was doing this that with this design I really wanted to integrate it into my life, taking advantage of the opportunities that arise rather than having to start completely new things. This shows in the fact that nearly every idea meets Integrate rather than Segregate.


This was as far as I got on the FiT course with the designing. Although I did have a reflection session by presenting my progress so far to the rest of the course.

Presenting my design so far

After I presented my design everyone reflected back phrases that had landed with them. I found this really powerful so wanted to include them here.

  • Started slowly and gained momentum
  • Helped me feel less lost
  • Feeling a need for functions
  • Limits into bubbles
  • Letting go, my vision fell into place
  • The vision came together on a walk
  • Meeting and integrating my needs in the community
  • Understanding why it is permaculture
  • Took time for pause
  • Making my design pretty
  • Where was I one year ago
  • Enjoying and getting into it
  • Using pause
  • There are loads of helps
  • Realising I have to work on myself as a facilitator, personal development
  • Noting down the limits in an ongoing way to capture them when they are noticed

ActionAfter the course I took one of my actions, which was to give myself time to reflect on, digest and write up all of my learnings into a form I could easily use in the future. I am very glad I did this and it has been so useful already.

Example of notes written up - design web learnings

Example of notes written up – design web learnings

After I had organised and digested all of my notes I went back through my design so far. I was so excited about the possibility of actually making part of my right livelihood from being a permaculture designer and teacher that it rather overshadowed all of my other diploma designs for a while!


I reflected on the design as I went through it and added a few more things onto the Helps anchor point, but then I was at a bit of a loss of what to do next. I decided to brainstorm possible next steps, which really helped me see the way forwards.

PrinciplesI decided to start with counting up the principles and ethics score of each of my ideas, but I discovered a certain resistance to the results that emerged. I realised that some of the ideas were important for other reasons, or if they didn’t contribute to all three ethics they definitely didn’t contravene them!  For example, setting up a local permaculture facilitators group did not actively support Earthcare, but it didn’t cause environmental harm either!

ActionAs I still wasn’t any clearer on which ideas I should take forwards I decided to try and adapt the action chart that Diego and Demian had shared in their design presentation. So I ranked all of my ideas against time (when they should happen) and the amount of effort they required. It was an interesting exercise, mostly to discover that I had already mentally ranked them and put those that would take more effort further into the future!

An effort vs time chart

IntegrateI still wasn’t that clear on my way forwards, but I thought things might become a bit clearer if I worked out what the main functions of my design were. This turned out to be a lot more straight forward than I was expecting, due to Demian’s golden circle of vision, the purpose of my vision was more or less my key functions too, plus a couple of other things which had emerged as important.

I wasn’t completely sure whether ‘Further integrating my life’ was a function or just something that was an overall aim of permaculture designs, but I decided to leave it in anyway.

Key Functions

As I had got a bit fixated on the challenge of working out which were the key ideas to take forward I decided to try some colour coding. So with a different colour for each function I went through all of my ideas adding the colours of the functions they met (see previous ideas photo). When I finished doing this I still wasn’t sure what it had shown me, but it came in useful later.

IdeasI also started a further ideas sheet to capture others that came up.

Further ideas

IntegrateNext I decided to write some SMART or WISE goals for each of my functions to help to ground them and make them measurable. I made a really good start on this and it helped make it feel more real. I didn’t manage to complete all of them because I didn’t have the explanation of WISE goals with me and I was having a day off of computers. I was recommended WISE goals when I started a discussion on the diploma facebook group about the challenge of writing SMART goals for people-based designs.

This was the end of my first major session on the design after which I went away and did other things, but it was always there in my mind. One of the key things which I realised over this time was how much I needed to visit the momentum anchor point! And how I needed to build myself a support system around this design, like I had around my whole diploma.


I took the initiative before my next focussed designing session and asked if people wanted to have a regular contact group, which I was hoping to use to check in with others on how my design was progressing. A few people said yes, but even I didn’t get round to emailing the group my update, although the half finished draft of it has been very useful for this write up!

MomentumI started my second big session on this design with the momentum anchor point, as I felt this was really important. I found it really useful to think about and to go through the momentum questions in People and Permaculture. 


IntegrateNext I went back to Integrate and worked out that there were three main systems I needed one for delivering courses, one to support me and one to continue developing myself as a facilitator. Then the colour coding of ideas came in useful by letting me see which ideas met 3+ functions. I used a combination of this, the results of running the ideas past the principles and ethics and also my intuition and common sense on what would make a successful system to select which ideas to take forwards.  This still felt relatively random, but I had to make some decisions and I tried to take as much into account as I could.

I mapped them out with how they interlinked (green) and which functions they met to try and ensure that each function was met by multiple elements and each element supported multiple functions. The functions were definitely all supported by multiple elements, but not all of the elements supported multiple functions, such as putting aside a pot of money for training courses, but I felt they were very important elements to the success of the system and therefore I included them anyway.

Systems and elements

ActionFrom this I then put together an action plan of when things would and should happen. I found that there was not too much that I could put on to it to begin with as it depended how things evolved.

Action plan

ActionI then moved on to implementing the design for a while, although not in a particularly structured way. So rather than trying to plot all their progression chronologically I will explain the remainder of the design process I have gone through and then explain some of the outcomes individually.

In January I reviewed the actions I had written on my action plan for that month and aimed to complete them.

ReflectionAfter a while of actions I used the opportunity of a train journey to have another review session. I was pleased to discover that despite feeling like I had been ignoring it, quite a few things had actually happened and quite a lot of progress was being made! I discovered that there were quite a few things that had changed in my situation, making some of the ideas not relevant any more. For example, I had given up writing for the Transition Social Reporters blog and we had decided to give the Nearly Wild Explore days a break until the Summer. And other ideas and opportunities had also arisen.

AppreciationAfter reflecting I wrote myself a rather large list of next steps! But I made a start on them straight away by doing do a Reflection and Appreciation on my progress. This was lovely because I had discovered I was doing much better than I thought!

LimitsA few weeks later I set aside a whole day for focussing on this design. It was great to spend some time focussing on it and I managed to complete a lot of actions. I also did a reflection on the limits I was experiencing and my subsequent needs on my People and Permaculture Facilitator pathway. This was requested by Looby, but was really useful for me to reflect on personally too. I would really like to work on these limits for the next design cycle to help build more momentum. I also updated my timeline and reviewed and updated my list of actions.

IntegrateI then went back to my goals and filled in the more intangible ones that I had left for using WISE goals. However, on looking at the WISE goals again, I found that they were actually more outlining essentially a permaculture approach and wouldn’t serve the same function as SMART goals. So I attempted to devise SMART goals for all of my functions.  I still haven’t manage to properly record my baseline for some of these goals, which means they are not very useful for evaluating progress at the moment!

ReflectionThrough the process of writing this design up I have again reflected, updated my list of actions and made a start on recording my baseline for some of my goals.


A People and Permaculture course in Norway

An idea arose from a discussion on facebook around the possibility of running a course in Norway. A group of interested people had a Skype call, which was quite nebulous and broad and a second skype just seemed to raise more questions. One of the challenges being the large number of people interested in being involved. After this there was a long pause until I reinitiated the discussions a few months later. This resulted in a meeting of just three of us who took the decision that we would be the core organisers of a two week course running in Norway next Summer 2015 and other people would be welcome as guest facilitators. Since then we have been having regular meetings and are following the design web to make this course a reality.

Getting support and sharing my thoughts

Over Christmas I took the momentum action of sharing the design so far with my mum to help her understand the process and my plans and I also shared it with a couple of friends who were interested in it. It was really useful to talk through my plans with others, but hasn’t actually led to me checking in with them on it.

The email support group also never got off of the ground, but I do now have a support buddy following her request for one and my enthusiastic response. We just have a chat when we feel the need for support and so far it is working well, although the unstructured approach is not necessarily encouraging me to get on with things.

Further training and experience

I started with some research into the different training courses I was interested in attending. One of them clashed with another plan I already had, and the other two combined still came within my annual budget, so I decided to go for them both. So I have now arranged to shadow Aranya on a PDC he is running in October and following a lot of research and organising I am attending a one day Non-violent Communication course with my friends in July.

Since then Looby has also extended the invitation to get involved with a course she is running before the UK Permaculture Convergence in September. So I am still exploring how I can be involved with that.

Nearly Wild

One of my main ideas for integrating this design into the rest of my life was to run sessions at Underhill Farm and as part of Nearly Wild. There was a school group of Korean WWOOFers visiting Underhill Farm and I planned a session for them, but it never came about as the way they needed to work was so different from what I had anticipated.

I have also made progress on developing ideas for Nearly Wild courses. I had a stroke of inspiration in March as to how it could all work together and I have talked to Steve about it. I now just need to find the time to work up the Exploration Courses as an ‘approach’ to market and then get people to choose what topic they would like to have within that! There is also the potential for running an Introduction to (People) Permaculture course of some kind at Underhill, but I also need to find the time to work this idea up.

As a linked idea I am also going to look at running Nearly Wild experiences based on People and Permaculture at the Nearly Wild Camping location I am going to be running where I live.

Making links through Shropshire Permaculture Network

I had already offered to host the Shropshire Permaculture Network at my house in March and so I offered to do a workshop for anyone who was interested. I sent a list of possible topics for people to choose from and the answer came back as a ‘Wild Edges’ workshop. I based a lot of the ideas on Glennie Kindred’s Wild Edges book and it went down very well, with 13 participants wandering around barefoot, observing nature, foraging and thinking about the rhythms of nature. I managed to capture some feedback from a few participants too, which was very useful.

From this I have also met other permaculture facilitators in the Shropshire network and have an avenue for promoting courses through.

Investigating diploma mentoring

One of my ideas which I wanted to explore further was offering some kind of mentoring for people pre- or early diploma, particularly with people-based designs. This was in response to a leak I had experienced. I decided to moot my idea on the diploma facebook group and I got a varied and interesting response and discussion. It helped me to clarify that the two areas I could offer mentoring in would be support after a PDC on which pathway to follow next and also people-based designing guidance. I still need to investigate the potential for these further.

Thriving Ways

On my People and Permaculture Facilitators course we also did a big group design on our collective future as People and Permaculture Facilitators. I was part of a group of participants who at the end of the course volunteered to carry on this process and make it happen.

To begin with this felt very broad and not easy to use or link to this design, but in the last few months it has clarified itself into a collective of People and Permaculture facilitators with methods of collaborative promotion and support, called Thriving Ways. So suddenly it is very relevant and useful to this design and will definitely be incorporated into future action plans.

Links with other designs

One of my other diploma designs is around helping to manage the change of ownership of a local garage. The pathway forwards has not been decided yet, but if they do follow the employee owned route then I might potentially have paid work giving them some training around People and Permaculture topics.

Overall Evaluation

Design Framework Evaluation: Design Web

I really enjoyed using and exploring the Design Web as part of this design, especially as I started it on a course where it was being taught.

I felt it worked really well and I often found that moving on to a different anchor point helped to overcome any challenges or obstacles I was experiencing.

I did however once again get a bit bogged down in the Integrate anchor point and making it into an action plan. I think this is partly because I feel this a pivotal point in the design where you make decisions and shape the onward path, therefore I really want to get it right and master it and I am not happy with uncertainties.

Tools used Evaluation

Design tools evaluation

Design Process Evaluation

What went well?

  • Trying lots of different tools and techniques
  • Had lots of interesting insights and revelations along the way
  • It has set me on my path and there are quite a few actions in the offing
  • Designing while on a permaculture course and therefore immersed in permaculture and lots of inspiration
  • Having a group of other people on a similar pathway

What was challenging?

  • Deciding which ideas to take forwards, understanding what is permaculture and what is just designing
  • Maintaining momentum, finding regular time to check-in
  • Establishing a support system
  • Deciding what were realistic goals
  • A lack of clarity in the bigger picture design, made it more challenging to integrate it into my personal one
  • Being a pioneer in people-based permaculture facilitation – less examples to follow or opportunities to apprentice
  • Establishing something locally

What would I do differently next time?

  • I would transfer my action plan into a mind map and also schedule tasks directly into my diary
  • Give more priority to actions which enable and support other actions, which one do I need first, eg support system
  • Make sure I had some small, easy actions to get me rolling
  • Explore my limits around earning money, so I can better allocate my time between paid and development work
  • Spend time finding out how others approach creative ideas weeding using permaculture
  • Try and incorporate more multiple intelligences into my designing to enhance creativity


Quite a lot has moved on with this design since I wrote it up. I would like to revisit it maybe as part of a wider livelihoods design after I have handed in my portfolio.

Facilitating on the 7 ways to think differently course

Facilitating on the 7 ways to think differently course

The course in Norway was postponed for a year, as the host would have had a few month old baby so it wasn’t very practical. I have, however, apprenticed on the 7 ways to think differently course with Looby and Peter and then co-facilitated it with Looby this March, which went really well and has really motivated me to continue down this livelihood path. I hope to run more 7 ways courses in the future. I have also been approached by a couple of other people about running courses with them and will be apprenticing on the Social Permaculture course this year, so hopefully this design will continue to evolve and grow. I am also still an active part of Thriving Ways and I hope that we will start seeing lots of yields from it soon.

As well as apprenticing I have continued my training with a course in compassionate communication, a year long programme in nature connection and cultural repair and lots more experience through my diploma!

I have discovered that once I have completed my diploma I can become a diploma tutor and that is definitely an option that appeals to me, so I will be looking into that option as well as considering other forms of mentoring that I might be able to offer.

Membership Organisation Design – Full


In Autumn 2012 there was a gathering for the people who were on my PDC. Three of us made it along to Sanna and Ali’s house and we (and the 5 dogs!) had such a wonderful time that we decided the five of us should repeat it regularly!

At the next gathering Jess asked us all whether we would be interested in helping her to do a permaculture design for an organisation she was involved with and they would pay our travel expenses. She had already done a successful design for her own business, but wanted some help and support with this one. I was definitely up for it because I was trying to get all of the permaculture experience that I could. As we did it during our next gathering our designing was a mixture of a social weekend with a few hours focussed designing time and more informal discussion.

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Membership Organisation Design – summary

A group design, all of us fairly new to permaculture and having never used the design web before. The purpose of the design was to assess and tweak the UK membership organisation for Humanistic Psychology practitioners to make it resilient and regenerative.

People based designDesign Framework: design webDesign for a clientGroup design

Design period: December 2012 to September 2013

Client: UK Association of Humanistic Psychology Practioners – UKAHPP (represented by Jessica Smith). They covered our travel expenses for the design weekend.

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