Image: Authors own, taken at the south edge of the pollinator border area, July 21 2022
Table of Contents 

1 Overview

2 Goal Articulation

3 Survey

3.1 Photo documentation/observation

3.2 Client interview

4 Analysis

4.1 Ethics

4.2 Principles

4.3 Input/output analysis

4.4 Functions of plants within a guild

5 Design/Decisions

6 Implementation

7 Manage/Maintenance

8 Evaluate 

9 Reflection


((the design process, framework etc) on what I have learnt) roses, buds, thorns


Appendix

1 Books

2 Criteria mapping




Overview

Aim

To create an example of a food forest by planting a guild around two pear trees, involving local people (and myself) in learning about food forests, planting and maintenance.

Date

30 April – 22 August 2022

Location

The Kymin, Beach Road, Penarth

Client

Friends of The Kymin, workshop participants, myself

status

Implemented

Domain

Land & Nature Stewardship ( Holmgren)

People & Land, Learning & Sharing

Principles

Rosemary Morrow’s design, strategic and attitudinal principles

Framework

SADIMET

Tools

Blog, Session plan, Aranya’s need/inputs, yields/outputs analysis, client interview,  Photo documentation/observation on Google Photos, group process planting plan, design template by Jessie Scantleberry ( bekindtoworms.co.uk), roses, buds, thorns, Functions, Google doc table, Google Keep notes, Canva

Resources/support

Books, visit to Coed Gardens (Stephen Watt’s food forest at Coed Hills developed as part of  ediculture), Projects & LAND zoom sessions, Monthly MOG sessions, workshop participants, Liz Postlethwaite’s  Woodland Community Space DesignVery long research and learning document, Delvin Solkinson’s design on meeting diploma criteria

Context

In the original community mapping activity carried out by Friends of the Kymin and Vale of Glamorgan Council, the area we are developing into a tiny forest garden was mapped as ‘pollinator border’. So the idea to create a rich haven for pollinators and wildlife here came early in our thinking. 

We then had 5 heritage fruit trees from the Keep Wales Tidy food garden pack, plus one gifted from a volunteer, that we needed to choose a location for. Two of the pear trees were planted in the lower part of the area described as ‘pollinator border’. Here then was an opportunity to further develop this space to enrich the diversity overall and support the fruit trees by planting a guild around them.

I wanted to learn about forest gardening, what better way to do it than to create one. It also felt important to involve members of the community in the process. I have a funding pot to deliver workshops.

Goal Articulation

By the end of the design (22 August 2022) I would like to have:

*Learnt about forest gardens through completion of a blog, delivery of workshops, open sessions and planting 

*Planted a range of pollinator friendly edibles to support two pear trees, whereby increasing biodiversity

*Created a demonstration of a small scale food forest that would suit a home garden

*Involved a number of local people in learning about food forests, planting and maintaining

Survey

Top orchard plan, created by Elen Robert, Friends of the Kymin

Photo documentation/observation – once the two pear trees had been planted in February 2022, I started regularly walking around the area to observe what emerged as we came into spring. 

In April, I listed the plants that are already established, including the elder, which came to be surrounded by nettles and cleavers. I researched what indicators about soil that offered, nettles tend to grow in nitrogen rich, less compacted areas. The 3 gooseberry’s were planted in an open session on 9 April 2022.

Client Interview

In February, whilst we were deciding where to plant the fruit trees, I started talking with Friends of the Kymin (FOTK) about creating a guild around the pear trees in the pollinator border area. I shared some images in our WhatsApp group to illustrate. This was the beginning of an ongoing dialogue about developing a tiny food forest. 


I held a set of questions through our discussions on site and on Whatsapp, relating to the principles and to the aims of the design. It was from these discussions that the decision to go slow, planting in stages to minimise impact, became clear. 

What might the impact of our actions be? positive and negative, especially as we are planting so close to the top meadow, which we are leaving to see what emerges from the seed bank, how might we interfere with that process?

What are the reasons for doing it? What might hold us back?

Reasons for doing it included: contributing to our own learning about what is possible in public open space and how we stewards of this land, food forests are one way to feed the future, so it’s a worthwhile experiment. Elen and I are both interested in learning about edible perennial plants, we can learn more here. It’s a way to engage local people in learning, we identified the area as a pollinator border, this idea meets that aim plus other benefits, like increasing the range of forage foods on the site and education people about edible perennial plants.

Things that might hold us back include, finding enough plants, vandalism.

As FOTK, what are your ambitions for the site as a whole, and how does this fit, or not fit? 

Initially I had thought about planting a food forest in a different area, around the 9 trees that make up the community orchard, through discussions it became clear that FOTK wanted to manage this area as meadow. So we identified the pollinator border area as a better option.

To me planting a food forest seemed like a good idea. So I expressed lots of ways in which I felt it was a good idea (related to the aims of the design) in our discussions and asked if FOTK also thought it was a good idea, which they did. 

I also had an opportunity on Zoom to ask the Local Nature Partnership Coordinator about the impact of diverse planting on the site. I had concerns about the impact of self-seeding on other areas. LNP stand by their cultural standpoint of planting native species only. So there was a counterpoint to balance here, with tentative steps, as I was going to plant non-natives anyway, and see what happens (in agreement with FOTK). Later, Elen sent a list of the plants that are on the Schedule 9 list of things that should absolutely not be planted. 

7 May – one of many conversations Rich and I had in the space, this time we spotted the desire line to the pagoda, this helped identify where to plant the boom

I had an already established group of workshop participants enrolled on a programme monthly workshops themed around local food, food growing and climate action. This was developed as part of a lottery funded project. I had asked local people the topics they would like to learn about in a survey I did for this. 

I have also named myself as a client. I was clear from the outset that my aim was to learn as much as I could about food forests by creating one, and to involve local people in that process. 

Analysis

Ethics

Caring for the Earth

Increase biodiversity, more plants of different varieties equals more wildlife variety

Choosing pollinators, bee and butterfly plants

Improving soil with permanent planting, mulch plants

Caring for People

Creating opportunities for engagement, involvement, learning and connection (to ourselves, each other, and the Earth)

Community involvement as part of implementation and maintenance

Sharing

Many of the plants have been received through gifting, from local people and KWT

Sharing knowledge about polyculture and guild systems as a way to garden for maximum benefit to nature and yield, climate and wildlife friendly gardening/growing

Shared use of public space, land stewardship

Principles

Rosemary Morrow’s design, strategic and attitudinal principles in the Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture

I researched different principles through my reading, I had two sets to choose from (noted in huge document), Colleen Stevenson’s principles from a diagram in Aranya’s book and Rosemary Morrow’s principles from her book. RM’s seemed to fit better with the design for me, they generated a bigger response in relation to what I was hoping to achieve with the design. I used a table to explore RMs principles, noting how RM applies them, and reflecting on how I would apply them myself. This generated a series of useful questions that went on to inform the design decisions (highlighted in yellow in main text).

Three of the principles felt particularly resonant (highlighted in blue in full text):

*Start small and learn from change – plant slowly to minimise impact and integrate the new into the public realm, noticing and observing what happens

*Bring food production back to the cities – creating an example of how food forests offer yield and increase diversity, interesting to be doing this in public open space in a park

*Work with nature not against it – using guilds to support the pear trees, how the development of a food forest fits into the wider environment

——————————————————————

Input/output analysis
Functions of plants within guild

Design Decisions

Identifying Layers

I documented my thinking about plant options for the different layers in the food forest to decide which plants would be best. I used a table in Google docs to record the findings of my online research into plants needs and where they fitted into the layers. This contributed more to my learning about needs and functions of the plants in the system.

Other design decisions

*Plant shrub layer on the outer edges of the crown of your mature tree

*Pathways – Martin Crawford suggests minor paths are 60cm wide. Elen has a supplier of woodchip from her allotment. Using woodchip to alter the surface of the area will hopefully deter the Vale from mowing. 

*Unless diseased, prunings are best left on the ground to decay in their own time in to the soil (Martin Crawford)

*Every tree gets its own comfrey plant (Bocking 14, I have a stock to propagate root cuttings from)

*Limiting factor – maintaining sight-lines to pagoda from top fence and gate because of potential and previous anti-social behaviour issues

*Some of the plants we can’t find suitable places fro at The Kymin can go to the new raised beds at Belle Vue

*the needs and functions identified in the input/output analysis contributed to learning about plants, which supported decisions about where to plant

*identifying the functions of plants within guilds during the analysis phase supported the planting plan, I literally had this info in my hand on my phone whilst we deciding the placement

Using the principles

*Questions generated from focused attention and response to principles helped to inform design decisions.

Design decisions that came out of the questions:

*keep the area as open as possible

*being aware of size of plants when they are fully grown helped with plant placement

*need for volunteers to water (maintenance)

*we took time to observe what wildlife use the space when we did a butterfly count on 4 Aug, hopefully when we do this again we will note increased diversity – we need to do this!

*a water solution is still out of my grasp, how can I design for water, its tricky, but I’m confident it will come in time. Our currant solution is to get a very long hose that will reach from the toilets up to the area. It’s not good enough because it’s not sustainable. But it is what we have for now. Conserve what we can with regular mulching, we have plenty of leaf mould and cut grass to use (maintenance).

Involving People

From the outset I knew that local people would be involved in implementation. The tiny food forest would be planted through workshops and open sessions. Decisions about where to plant what would be guided by my learning about plants needs, and made in a group process

That process will involve being in the space with people and plants:

*Talking about the needs and future size of the plant, its place within the guild and how it might support the plants around it.

*Imagining together how it might look in the future, taking into consideration the need for a pathway through,

*Thinking about the Vale and their strimmers/mowers

*Talking about the journey a person might take through the space to forage from the fruits in years to come, what would that journey be like? Where can people reach? Where don’t we want people to go?

*What feels right? 

Implementation

In early May I wrote a brief plan of action to guide the pathway through the design.

Sat 12 Feb – two pear trees planted

As the time went on more structure emerged around how the design was going to come to life. Workshop and open session dates were planned. 

12 March – two pear trees, before any planting began
9 April – three gooseberry’s planted
14 May – planting the broom with Helen in our open session
28 May – plants I’d been growing on from seed ready
28 May – Food Forest Workshop, group process to decide which plants went where. I used photos to remember where to plant
7 July – unexpected visit from Vale lawnmower, chopped the heads off three gooseberry’s!
7 July – first session with Innovate Trust volunteers, planted three fruit bushes, red currant, black current and thornless blackberry, more talking and observing to decide where to plant

6 Aug – developing a planting plan with Jenny. We talked through the needs and sizes of each plant, and identified the best spot. We used the info I had gathered in the blog to inform our decisions.

Manage/Maintenance

Now that we have a tiny food forest, we need to maintain it.

In July FOTK began fortnightly open sessions on Saturdays in which volunteers will come together to work on maintaining different areas. In time, I will need to demonstrate to others how the food forest works and what the requirements are in terms of maintenance, so that other people aside from me feel responsible for it. 

I run a monthly session with Innovate Trust, where a group come to work on maintenance. This is only funded until Feb. I’d like to find more funds to continue this.

Maintenance requirements include:

Watering – we have a couple of WhatsApp groups through which we discuss and share watering tasks. A new volunteer who is willing to water joined in July. Watering is one of the tasks whenever we are there. It’s a bit haphazard and responsive to weather, we could be more coordinated, but for the time being how we are doing it seems to be working. 

UPDATE: 6 Aug. Jenny offered to take some time to organise a rota for watering, in which we work in twos on a rotation basis, so we know who’s turn it is next. I included a call for help with watering in my monthly events email, another volunteer came forward. 

Pruning – in open sessions and winter workshops

Mulching – in open sessions

Weeding – regularly, in open sessions

Grass cutting and maintaining pathways – in open sessions. Eventually there will be no grass to cut

It has become clear that I need to be spending more time at the site. I got into a routine of going there to tend the area on Wednesday afternoons, but the school holidays and a change to my child’s routine meant that I had to stop. My time is also split between the Kymin, organising workshops, and maintaining our site at West House Community Garden. I need to reprioritise. 

I plan to:

*Do a few workshops with FOTK so they more fully understand the workings of the food forest. The wider FOTK group have been sent the planting plan and blog (9 Aug)

*Set aside time in the week to be there, invite others to join me and pass on info and skills to them too

*Create a more coordinated watering plan with more volunteers. Jenny to organise, I’m starting with new volunteer Kersty on 10 Aug

*Get hold of a large amount of woodchip to create pathways, Elen has a contact

In the future I’ll need to think about more plants, to fill the space more and to replace perennials, they are more permanent, but don’t last forever. 

Evaluate

In my first design I didn’t know what I was doing. I was following the framework I had for my PDC, without really very clear awareness. In this one, things were more clear.

Goals – Have I achieved them…yes!

Aim – To create an example of a food forest by planting a guild around two pear trees, involving local people (and myself) in learning about food forests, planting and maintenance.

By the end of the design (22 August 2022) I would like to have:

*Learnt about forest gardens through completion of a blog, delivery of workshops, and planting 

I now feel confident that I can talk knowledgeably about food forests, how to create them and their purpose and function. 

*Planted a range of pollinator friendly edibles to support two pear trees, whereby increasing biodiversity

We have planted a range of edible perennial plants in the space. There’s room to plant more, which I will propagate in time. 

*Created a demonstration of a small scale food forest that would suit a home garden

I feel this goal has been achieved. Now the job is to share more learning with more people.

*Involved a number of local people in learning about food forests, planting and maintaining

I’ve been delighted with the number of people I have interacted with in the course of the design, deepening relationships and sharing learning. I send the blog to people whenever the topic of food forests come up. The design has even stimulated me to look at redesigning my own back garden as a food forest (planned for design 8). I need to be more coordinated now around involving people in maintenance. This will come through another design in which I look at the site as a whole (design 7, as intended in Learning Pathway plan).

As well as FOTK, local people and VOG being clients, I am also a client because one of the aims of the design is to deepen my own learning about food forests by creating one. I always find that the best way to learn something is to teach it. I also saw an opportunity to deepen others learning through this too, and inspire others to use forest gardening as a method in their own gardens. One participant is planting a guild around a fruit tree on his allotment as a result. 

Overall, I have involved 14 people deeply in this process. The number of people involved as we care for and maintain will increase slowly over time. 

Framework

SADIMET feels like the standard framework. It’s more clear than the MSCADE framework I used for design 1, and has more logical steps and a clear place for implementation. In thinking about the framework this time, and learning about all the different frameworks that are available for us (using Delvin Solkinson’s resources), I uncovered some key learning about the design process. I found a way to articulate the process in my own words in my Google Keep notes. This felt like a leap in my comprehension and understanding of what I am supposed to be doing when designing. In design 1 I wasn’t really clear about the difference between frameworks and tools, now at the end of design 2 I am very clear. 

Design Tools

I feel like I have more to learn about using tools. I still have more to learn about analysis. When I started this design, I was reading Aranya for learning about tools, so the tools I used in the early stage for analysis were his, and because this was a primarily land based design, that seemed to fit. The input/output table and functions of plants in a guild document did help with informing design decisions because they enabled me to identify the information I needed to plant in the right place.

As time went on I carried on reading. I read Looby’s Cultural Emergence and Adam Brock’s Change Here Now. I feel at the end of this design the tools I used didn’t have a delicacy enough, or weren’t juicy enough to capture the nuance of the people-centred nature of the design.

I read Jessie Scantleberry’s 6th design, and wish I had used tools that were more suitable for uncovering the relationship dynamics between the people. Although I feel I’ve learnt richly about the relationship dynamics of plants here.

For me, knowing what I know now, the tools weren’t enough. They weren’t sophisticated enough to really dig deep into possibilities or to uncover rich learning about systems and dynamics. I’ll choose tools that feel more juicy for design 3. That’s why I feel a bit unsatisfied with the analysis stage – I haven’t yet found the right tools for me. 

Principles

The focus on writing in response to each principle did help me generate lots of good questions which were useful for the design decisions stage. I still feel like I could have woven the three most relevant into the whole design more. They would be ‘small and slow‘, ‘bring food growing back to the city‘ and ‘work with nature not against it‘ I said something about this in design 1 as well. Maybe next time I will start with the principles and hang the design off those more explicitly in the write up. For design 3, how can I weave the principles in from the beginning into every aspect of the design? 

Group Process Planting

Because I wanted to involve local people in planting, and deciding where to plant, I chose to use a group process. This worked well for helping people feel like part of it, but not so well for remembering where to plant things. I should have made a sketch map on the day of the workshop. Instead I took photos of where the plants had been placed. This made it hard to discern! So, essentially, when Jenny and I met on Aug 6, we basically had another group process between us to create the planting plan! We do, we learn, that’s what it’s all about.

Implementation PLan

Some things from my original plan just didn’t seem to crystallise and didn’t seem to feel as important to my learning, like the base map and soil test. What did feel important was involving people in learning about food forests and planting. Since the workshop, I have had ongoing conversations with a participant about the guild he is planting on his allotment around a fruit tree. This feels like a good outcome!

Theory

More about analysis and how I can do it better, and how I can use theory to inform design. 

This design has enabled me to immerse myself in a sustained period of learning and discovery. In that respect it has been a nourishing process. We know the wellbeing effects of tending the land. I am feeling how they are being expressed in me through this design in a way that’s akin to how therapy raises ones awareness of being in the world, healing and growing through positive interactions and experiences.

Reading the landscape is a common thread in any permaculture inquiry. I’ve had a key learning that for me, and my people focused land designs, that what I am doing when I am reading the landscape is actually sensing the field

In Field Theory, a school of thought developed by Lewin in the 1940s, then absorbed into Gestalt Therapy in the 1950s and 60s by Perls, the interaction patterns between individual people and the ‘field’ ie the environment, are a point of study. I see crossovers here between how our lived experience in our psycho/social/environmental context relates to the pattern languages and whole systems view of permaculture and our relationships to each other and the land. 

The field is the place that emerges from the interaction of ourselves (our actions and experiences) and the environment. For me, this correlates elegantly with the principles of small and slow, and smallest change for the greatest possible effect. In the next design I’d like to focus more on tools I can use for sensing the field. I’ve made a list in my very large document.

Gestalt Therapy also emphasises what it calls ‘organismic holism’, the importance of being aware of the here and now and accepting responsibility for yourself. Here I see a direct link to the Prime Directive.

It’s like permaculture designing offers a therapeutic process for changing our broken relationships to ourselves, each other and the Earth. There’s another tool that therapists use called ‘edge sensing’, I don’t need to explain the relationship here, we are all about edge in permaculture. Edge sensing is dwelling at the meeting point between what is known explicitly and what is know in an implicit bodied way. Dancing at the interpersonal edge is people permaculture!

This also links with network mapping, and making connections between relationships. Edge sensing is crucial for the moving forward process of change. This knowing helps me frame the question of just how do we create change, in people and our environment? I feel ready to wrap up all this thinking now, and carry it over into the next design, field and edge sensing tools at the ready for my analysis!

Reflection

I’ve used the roses, buds & thorns tool to uncover successes, challenges and blossomings.

Basemap

For a long time I stalled because I couldn’t find a way to do a basemap. The area is not on google Earth, it’s obscured by trees, my chaotic life meant that getting there to measure and draw to scale was just not happening. Then, my friend came to visit, she’s a drone operator, she got some shots of The Kymin. I then had a view of the site from the top. 

Then I let it go.

I had been hung up for so long about the base map it was stopping me from making progress. Eventually, I got to the thinking that you can pretty much do what you like in a design, as long as you can justify your decisions and meet the criteria. I had a lesson from a fellow community grower about ‘doing enough’. Once I let it go, things started to flow again and on I went. I realised I just don’t need to name ‘basemap’ as a tool!

Overall Learning Aims for diploma

How did what I learnt in this design meet my diploma learning objectives more widely as part of my Learning Pathway?

The design has contributed to my aims to:

Get a good livelihood from all this work – by building my skills, potential to run cost recovery courses on food forests in the future. I also got paid for the workshop and session with Innovate Trust through the lottery pot

My deep longing to imagine the world we could have, if only we could change – this process signifies a shift, a change. In my thinking about the world around me, my understanding of our ecosystem, how I involve people, deepening relationships, and in bringing an example of a more sustainable way to grow food into the world to demonstrate its potential to local people

Learning about permaculture through practical experiments – the whole design has been a practical experiment, I have learnt so much, as articulated through the design write-up

What can I do to create the change I’d like to see in the world? – just this, small and slow projects that make change gradually and involve people

Living in the future I’d like to see, now – I’d like to see food forests everywhere around our town in the future, and for us to get a meaningful yield to meet the needs of local people from our land. This feels like the first tentative step towards that

Create a demonstration of ecological living in the urban environment, so other people can see and learn and change themselves – here’s one example of how that can happen brought to life!


Appendix

Books that have informed the design

Martin Crawford – Creating a Forest Garden: Working with Nature to Grow Edible Crops

Example on a big scale, hectares

——

Anni Kelsey – Edible Perennial Gardening. Growing successful polycultures in small spaces

Example on a bed scale in a home garden

——

Anna Locke – The Foragers Garden

Home scale garden scale mostly 

——

Alan Carter – A Food Forest in Your Garden. Plant it, Grow it, Cook it. 

Allotment scale

——

Rosemary Morrow – Earth Users Guide

Zone of the forest garden – 2


criteria mapping