Today we started to harvest our almonds. We have about 20 trees or so and the cases of the nuts have just started to split, meaning they are good to go! We are planning on using the shells and casings from the nuts as part of our mulching system this winter.
Artwork by Jaine Rose
Once again day and night, light and dark are equal, reminding us to find the balanced edge of equilibrium between our outer and inner selves.
Autumn equinox marks the final end of the outer growth cycle. It’s a time of change with high tides, wild changeable weather and wild uncertainties as we plan what to do next. The shorter, colder days and colder, longer nights affect these decisions. We recognise this as a transition point, an opportunity for a new set of possibilities and the opportunity to grow in new ways. We take all we have learnt during the spring and summer and transform them by taking them with us.
We walk the outer ways and walk the inner way, and aim to flow in poise and balance in the wild edges in between.
Glennie Kindred – Letting in the Wild Edges
Today is the Autumn Equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere and Ive decided to use the energies and characteristics of this Earth Festival to start a design that hopefully others will also be able to take inspiration from focusing on creating and maintaining balance in our lives. I've had a few months away from the focus of my work as a permaculture designer and practitioner, so it feels a great way to get back involved with documenting my reflections again.
Im using OBRADIMET (Observe, Boundaries, Resources, Analyse, Decisions, Implement, Maintain, Evaluate, Tweak), as a Design Process as its one that fits well with some of my initial ideas before I start considering the details.
What areas of my life feel in balance at the moment?
Work, play, Right Livelihood, physical health, emotional health, energy levels, spiritual connections, what I give, what I receive, …..
What don’t feel in balance?
What does balance feel/look like to me?
What does out of balance look/feel like to me?
What actual or potential boundaries are in my life which create unwanted imbalances for me?
What positive boundaries/edges do I have in my life which will help keep the balances I create?
What kind of resources do I have now that help create positive balance in my life?
What resources do I need to seek out?
Are there resources I have identified since the spring equinox, over the summer, that can be useful?
People, knowledge, time, finances, skills, work, experiences, patterns, ideas …..
How does all the information I have gained so far in the design connect and influence each other?
What are the functions of the design?
Which permaculture principles can help with guiding my design ?
I have decided to focus on the Principles created by David Holmgren for this design
How do the permaculture ethics of people care, earth care and fairshares help shape how I will create and improve balance in my life?
From my evaluation what decisions have I come up with my design?
How am I going to implement my decisions?
What realistic timescale will I use?
Maintain, Evaluate and Tweak
How will I maintain the momentum of my decisions?
How will I make sure that any tweaks made to the design, after evaluation, are then included in the implementation plan?
Connections to other designs in my life, aim to mini -evaluate at every full moon and then big evaluation at the Spring Equinox...
Tools and Resources
Initial thoughts about design tools and resources I aim to use in this design
Web of connections
Zoning (life/people focused)
SWOC (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Constraints)
For more detail and ideas about tools used in permaculture design see Aranya's excellent book Permaculture Design - A Step By Step Guide
Gaiacraft Learning and Teaching Tools - to help explore and identify permaculture principles in a creative way
Letting in the Wild Edges by Glennie Kindred
Nicole Vosper's entire series of blog posts on Overcoming Burnout will also be a major resource contribution to this design.
So here we are, a basic framework for a design I am currently working on inspired by the timing of the Autumn Equinox and my return to deeper focus on my permaculture work and development.
Please contact me if you would like support from me either in my role as a Diploma (in Applied Permaculture Design) Tutor, or as a mentor/coach, with a similar design.
Sunrise during a storm here this morning. Air cleared, mind cleared and along with the new moon, the electrical energy is helping some new design ideas to develop. #patternsinnature #useandvaluerenewableresources
This June Ive taken part in the 30 Days Wild - Random Acts of Wildness, (anything you can do in an average working day to bring a little bit of nature into your life), challenge organised by The Wildlife Trusts. I took a photo of each Random Act each day and post them on FaceBook and Twitter. Its been a great thing to do, an opportunity to share examples of permaculture design, and a very welcome positive focus in a really uncertain times following the referendum vote. Here is a slideshow of some of my highlights!
As a way of healthily coping with the aftermath of Thursday's EU Referendum vote Ive decided to; learn, do, read or listen to a new solutions focused thing each day. Ive been thinking about creating a solar cooker ever since we arrived in Spain, so I thought I might as well start off my new daily pattern with giving it a go.
As you can see, my equipment isnt complicated. A garden chair, a pan with a glass lid and a foil backed beach mat! I decided as a first meal try to use ingredients that cooked fairly quickly, in order to have more chance at success.
9 am (as the sun was getting hot) - I placed chopped courgettes, whole garlic cloves and chillies, a splash of olive oil, seasoned with salt into the pan, lid on and tilted it within the chair to the sun.
1pm - The pan was too hot to touch. All ingredients were nice and soft - I added some chopped tomatoes, chard, basil and parsley and gave the whole thing a stir. I placed the pan on its bottom and curled the beach mat around its sides a little more to ensure the pan gained maximum benefit from the middle of the day sun. In addition this protected the pan from cooling down as a response to the fairly strong breeze that had arrived.
3.30pm - Everything was cooked perfectly, it smelled and tasted amazing. Cooker dismantled, "summer veggie garden stew" eaten with rice, greek yoghurt and toasted seeds.
And a real success with solar slow cooking - meals created with the pure energy of the sun. I will be using this throughout the summer, trying out many different meals. Like cooking on outdoor fire (which here in Andalucia we cant do in the summer because of wild fire risk), Its such a lovely way to connect further with the rituals of nourishing ourselves and the environment.
Be inspired and educated today, listen to the voice and truth of Brandi Mack .
I had the privilege of meeting Brandi and sharing time on the Earth Activist Training Jan 2013 with her. Brandi and her work has had a profound effect on my own permaculture work and life meaning, and I have so much gratitude to her. This interview with her on the Women's Leadership in Permaculture Forum is incredibly powerful, healing, and so many of her words I know, are going to be further guiding my work and life.
"If we cannot look at this trauma, open it up, cry about it and then create some solutions around it, then we've lost the mark...we are missing out because we are not willing to be uncomfortable ....move out the way of a project and look at the people....I want to see the women leading it (permaculture) more, and it being ok"
#empoweringwomenandgirls #socialpermaculture #blackurbanfarming #decolonisation #blacklivesmatter #womenleaders #regeneratingcommunities #permacultureinspiration #healingagriculture #liberationpermaculture
Over the last year a core part of my Edible Garden work has been to improve the fertility and life force of the soil, to ensure a healthy grounded place for flora and fauna to flourish ....In parallel my pathway as a permaculture practitioner also feels as though creating a holistically healthy base from which to grow a diverse rightlivelihood and life balance, has been key for me during this time - and its now time to start creating yields from them both
Mentoring can be a very powerful tool in lots of aspects of our permaculture work. I particularly like this article from thechangeagency.org which explains the benefits that successful mentoring can bring.
" Mentoring provides an opportunity to think and reflect in a confidential and supportive environment. It may make sense to review the preceding period, identify challenges, and workshop ways to respond to challenges in the future. "
Many aspects of permaculture design -process, ethics, principles and tools - can help to structure and guide mentoring relationships in permaculture contexts and settings.
This week Ive been reminded how valuable mentorship is in my both my personal and professional development and learning. Connecting, observing and receiving feedback from others who are more experienced and knowledgeable in subjects we are interested in taking further in our lives can be really empowering. My Skype mentoring session, which was part of the year long people focused permaculture facilitators programme, gave me space to reflect on the last few months of undertaking my facilitators pathway design, while gaining some focused clarity on specific designs and projects I had been working hard to start implementing. Looby's skill in identifying analogies and patterns, in the various tangles of my story is something I am really appreciating learning from her. In addition, a helpful reminder about how erosive my repetitive story for myself about "I need to be more confident" (So, if I need to be more confident, that must mean Im not confident enough!), can be, has given me the motivation to reframe that story by consciously identifying and noting times when I am taking steps to improve my confidence.
More flowers! my Growing Confidence design ....each time I do something which demonstrates I am a confident practitioner and person, I draw a flower in my planner /journal with a few notes. Looking back at the patterns should really help create a lovely spiral of confidence abundance! I have a different colour flower according to significance of the activity ('day to day', 'moderate', 'life changing'!)
Another Skype meeting with Ryan, the strategic communications co-ordinator from the Permaculture Association, about my developing work in communications and marketing in the permaculture community, was also a great time to appreciate the role of Ryan's mentorship. Then an observed Diploma tutorial along with some comprehensive feedback by Wilf, (Wilf observing me undertaking the tutorial, after me observing his tutoring/educator skills over the last few years), was my third experience of some wonderful mentors in my life just now.
Reflecting on the momentum and motivation these 3 events in the last few days gave me, also made me consider my mentoring role to others in the permaculture community and beyond too. This is something I will be looking at in more depth as part of my developing practitioner and designer role.
I've been being enjoying picking edible flowers from the garden to use in nearly every meal Ive eaten this week ...peppery nasturtium, cool cucumber borage, citrusy calendula and the amazing almost fine pastry qualities of the courgette and squash flowers. Once heated (baked, grilled, shallow fried), the overlaps of petal almost glue together, making the large circubit flower perfect casing for a yummy range of fillings. In the photo above, Ive fried finely diced courgette fruit with garlic in olive oil and mixed with cooked rice, chopped coriander and parsley, mozzarella and black pepper, and then grilled for 15 minutes until golden brown. There's a lovely article from Steph Hafferty in the current (PM88) edition of Permaculture Magazine detailing more recipes using edible flowers - and an accompanying online post introducing these diverse floral foods here
This week is Dying Matters Awareness week in the UK - a big diverse event with many people and organisations holding events to promote awareness about subjects relating the death and dying. I decided a few months ago that this week would be my goal for launching the zone 3-5 phase of a design, Designing Dying, I started about 4 years ago as part of my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design.
I started the latest phase of the design, now called "Creative Dying" by using a different design process (The Design Web by Looby Macnamara) to explore the design at a new level. I presented my experience of doing this at the National Diploma Gathering earlier this month.
Creative Dying is a website and coaching/workshop business which aims to support people - at any time of their life - to plan and design the death they would like.
It is focused at anyone who would like to explore the creative, positive and unique approaches that we can take to considering the end of our lives and how we die.
Creative Dying uses permaculture design at its centre and will appeal to the many people throughout the world already using permaculture to increase resilience and healing in other aspects of their life and work.
Im really passionate about the journey of this design for many reasons, and will be writing regular updates about its progress and hopefully success here.
Creative Dying on Facebook
Creative Dying on Twitter
regular updates and reflections about the permaculture designs in my life