My Permaculture Life

Aim: To create a plan focused upon how I will continue to develop and grow my Permaculture Practice once I have completed my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design.

Date: April 2021

Client: Personal Project

Status: Ongoing

Principles: Holmgren

Framework: Appreciative Enquiry

Tools: Jasmine Dale’s Observation Tool, Mind Map, Ethics Analysis, Patterns in Nature, Yields Analysis, Boundaries Analysis, Permaculture Wheel, Holistic Decision Making Template, Principles Analysis, Action Plan, Six Hats.

How does the design reflect the Permaculture Ethics?

Earth CareFinding ways to make use of my Permaculture learning for the benefit of local environmnental / climate action groups.

Sharing learning with children and building their love of the natural world through a children’s Permaculture group for home educating families.
People CareExploring the ways that I can make my Permaculture practice more accessible to others.

Finding time and energy to develop my own learning and growth.
Fair ShareSharing Permaculture learning through involvement with wider networks regionally and nationally.

Exploring ways to build the accessibility of my work through developing opportunities to engage in Permaculture which are free and open to all.

How does the design meet my personal learning objectives?

Permaculture design as underlying foundation to the work that I do.Exploring and planning new ways to intergrate Permaculture Design into my professional practice.
Build links to the Permaculture community.Building and developing links with the wider Permaculture community are a key aspect of this design, with particular focus upon my local Permaculture network.
Develop learning within the structure of the diploma.Exploring ways to continue developing my learning once my Diploma is completed.

Resources / Support

  • Design Forum
  • Design tutorial
  • Permaculture Design Companion – Jasmine Dale
  • Knowledge Base – Permaculture Association Website
  • Permaculture – David Holmgren


I began my Permaculture Diploma in November 2013. After developing my Action Learning Pathway I seemed to grind to a halt! With the exception of one design which I developed prior to starting my Diploma I really struggled to find momentum and purpose for my learning within the diploma structure. With the exception of a Home Birth design which I created in 2015 I tried many times to pick up the diploma again, but never succeeded.

In 2020 it became clear that the format of the Diploma that I was following was to be phased out I came to a crossroads. Should I drop the Diploma completely? Or pick it back you with energy and focus and work towards a specific date to complete it? I decided upon the second option and in October 2020 made the decision that I would like to try and complete my portfolio by the end of April 2021. During this period of time I have really relished re-engaging with my Diploma learning and have felt confidence and satisfaction as my fluency in design process grows with each new project. However I also feel a sense of trepidation how I will maintain momentum for my Permaculture practice once my Diploma is finished.

This design aims to create a plan to allow me to focus upon how I will continue to develop and grow my Permaculture Practice once I have completed my Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design.

I decided to use Appreciative Enquiry as a framework for this design. It is a framework that I read about in Jasmine Dale’s Permaculture Design Companion and I felt that the simplicity of form would be well suited to this design. Originally it was used in leadership / organisational development as a strengths based tool to instigate change and to create a positive shared vision.


To begin I used Jasmine Dale’s OBSERVATION TOOL to think about the wider context that my Permaculture Practice is located within. This invites you to think about a site as detailed in the image below but I tweaked its focus upon the projects, people and emotions that I feel connected to by and with my Permaculture.

Below are my own responses:

Land – the surrounding environment– Diploma in the context of my Applied Arts practice.

– Professional role as practitioner, producer and creator

– Volunteer involvement in projects in greenspaces and with local climate action groups

– Home education context within our family

– Permaculture within professional arts practice – where does it sit?

– Lived everyday Permaculture – what does that mean?

Society – other people now and in the future
– My family and friends

– Strong links to communities and organisations within the cultural and community sectors

– The team with my company (Small Things Creative Projects) and other organisations we work with – mainly in the charity and third sector

– The home education community

– My local community – connection through where I live but also through volunteering locally in parks and local environmental activism

– Permaculture community – locally, nationally and internationally
Personal – feelings, preferences and resources– Sharing learning / teaching

– Keeping connected to the Permaculture Community. What can I bring?

– How can I maintain my Permaculture practice after the Diploma?

– How can Permaculture Design influence our journey as a home educating family?

– Permaculture Design in my creative practice

– Wider development of practice particularly in community settings with focus upon accessibility

– Permaculture in everyday life – deepen my sense of what that means and how that looks

I then created a MIND MAP to think about loose ideas of aspects that I would like to feature in my Permaculture practice going forward, noting how the PERMACULTURE ETHICS may be reflected in these elements.

Finally I thought about how the Permaculture Ethics may manifest themselves in my life.

Earth Care– Environmental activism

– Living mindfully and lightly as a family

– Valuing and protecting the natural world

– Volunteering in parks and greenspaces

– Creating a garden at home to provide food and to support nature
People Care– Valuing my relationships with family and friends

– Linking to my local community in an active way

– Connecting with others by sharing learning

– Advocating for accessibility and equality

– Education for my son which is relevant and empowering
Fair Share– Creating opportunities for others

– Being an active volunteer

– Being involved in activism

– Sharing learning in accessible ways

Although these two ethics activities were quite similar I felt that there was a different nuance for each which was useful. For me the first one focused upon how I would like the ethics to be active in my life as permaculture practice, and the second how they are already active in the things that I do. To see the two aspects together was useful to begin to get a sense of how I would like to move forward in my life from a permaculture perspective from a fully rounded perspective.


I began this aspect of the design by creating a further MIND MAP to focus upon the things that I have particularly enjoyed during my Diploma journey. I added detail to this by thinking about where I had derived that enjoyment from within the structure of my Diploma Learning – sometimes it came from specific designs, but other times it came from things that I was involved in as a result of my Diploma such as the Design Forum.

I then thought about PATTERNS IN NATURE and using that to think about the different things that I would like to feature in my practice beyond the Diploma. I found this a really good way to begin to shape my thinking in a more focused and structured way.

Following on from this I spent time doing a YIELDS ANALYSIS to focus more specifically how all of these things that I had enjoyed and thought about may manifest themselves as yields going forward. It was at this point that what I really wanted to try and create was a plan by which Permaculture could be central to my life, and not simply a discrete element of my wider work.

I used these yields as a starting point to think about the BOUNDARIES that may make it difficult for me to achieve my ambitions, whilst also thinking about possible actions that could mitigate the challenges that I may face. Within this diagram the yields are in blue within the central wheel, the boundaries are in green and the possible solutions are in red.

At this point I really liked the notion of creating a wheel format as part of the design to encapsulate the different aspects of the Permaculture Life that I am hoping to create. In order to start doing this in a more coherent way I thought about the different yields and explored how they grouped together. In doing this it became clear that my aspirations fell into four main areas:

  • Living and Doing – where Permaculture is encapsulated and enacted in my everyday life.
  • Learning and Growing – where I continue to learn and develop as a Permaculture Designer.
  • Sharing and Connecting – where I reach out to share my work through collaboration and partnership.
  • ???? – where I embrace the unexpected and go with the flow.


I used the things that I had thought about in Discover to create a PERMACULTURE WHEEL to encapsulate the things I wish to focus upon visually. I love the way that this is such a visual representation of the next steps that I wish to take on this journey.

I then added more detail to how this would manifest itself practically in my life by creating a mind map taking inspiration from HOLISTIC DECISION MAKING. This uses the key elements from my Permaculture Wheel and defines ways in which each of them will be manifested withn my everyday life. The diagram can be read as follows:

  • The text in the centre is inspired by the HDM idea of a Statement of Purpose. Here it is intended to define the essence of how I would like to use permaculture in my life, and why I would like to do this. In short it encapsulates the intent of this aspect of my life.
  • The black lower case text in coloured circles is inspired by the Quality of Life Statements from HDM. These are the core things that need I feel need to be true if I am to fulfill my Statement of Purpose in a meaningful way.
  • The coloured words in capital letters are inspired by the HDM idea of Indicators. They reflect the way that the statements will manifest themselves in reality – in practical terms how will they actually happen.
  • Finally I added an additional element which in written in uppercase black writing and which I hope encapsulates the essence of the Quality of Life Statements which are grouped together.

I used a PRINCIPLES ANALYSIS using Holmgren’s Principles to ensure that these principles lie at the heart of the actions and yields at the foundation of the design. I did this by exploring which of my yields are most closely aligned with the principles.

Observe and interactActive
Catch and store energyEveryday
Obtain a yieldActivism
Growth and Curiosity
Apply self-regulation and accept feedbackActive
Growth and Curiosity
Use and value renewable resources and servicesEveryday
Teaching and Sharing
Produce no wasteEveryday
Design from patterns to detailsEveryday
Growth and Curiosity
Integrate rather than segregateEveryday
Use small and slow solutionsEveryday
Growth and Curiosity
Teaching and Sharing
Use and value diversityActivism
Use edges and value the marginalActivism
Creatively use and respond to changeActivisim
Growth and Curiosity


This design will be an ongoing project which will begin now as my DIploma draws to a close. I do not want to create a specific implementation plan as this design represents Permaculture within my day to day life so I feel that it needs to be more fluid than that. In the absence of this I have created a simple ACTION PLAN defining at least one next step for each of my yields. The plan also gives a sense of when it may be reasonably possible for each of these next steps to happen over the next six months. It is my intention to revisit the plan at the end of this six month period and tweak as approriate.

To be revisited in November 2021

EverydayContinue to look for a new homeOngoingRevisit with family what we are looking for in a new home.

– Narrow down where we are looking and continue to seek and view suitable properties.
ActiveSeek ways to engage more in the work that the Permaculture Association is undertakingOngoing– Keep an eye on the different PAB newsletters and updates to seek out opportunities.

– Allocate time to engage in suitable opportunities as they arise.
IntegralDevelop list of cultural partners and explore how we may develop Permaculture focused projects togetherJune 2021– Develop list of possible partners within the cultural sector.

– Outline my permaculture experience and explore what my offer may be for different organisations.

– Make contact with possible partners to share my experience and potential ways that we could work together.
ActivismDevelop summer activity programme for Love Springwater ParkJune 2021– Action at next LSP meeting to discuss and agree potential summer activities – will look to run three over July, August and September.

– Plan, promote and organise three different activities.

– Run the activities in the park in July, August and September.
ExplorationContinue to be an active member of the design forumOngoing– Continue to attend the monthly sessions and be an active contributor.
CreativeUse journals and creative writing to reflect upon my Permaculture practiceOngoing– Continue to create my own journals and creative reflections of my permaculture practice.

– Seek opportunities to share this work where possible.

Growth and CuriosityEngage in events and gatherings from the Permaculture Association when possibleOngoing– Keep an eye on the different PAB newsletters and updates to seek out opportunities.

– Allocate time to engage in suitable opportunities as they arise.
Teaching and SharingExplore development of Permaculture Introduction for artists – investigate who partners may be and start to think about the structureJune 2021– Start initial thinking what the form and structure of these sessions may be.

– Compile a list of potential partners and co-facilitators.

– Make initial contact with possible partners to see who may be interested to support this work.
AccessibleDevelop further sessions for the Home Education Permaculture groupJune 2021– Plan new term of sessions for June and July.

– Run a further five sessions between now and August.

– Evaluate the sessions with the group and explore next steps for the Autumn.

– Explore ways to share the learning from the group and the resources and session plans that I have created to support it.
CollaborativeDevelop a forum for artists / creative practitioners and Permaculture following on from Diploma Gathering workshopMay 2021– Share information about the forum on the Diploma Facebook group and via the Diploma Newsletter.

– Gather contacts for people who are interested to get involved and convene an initial meeting.

– Use the first meeting to explore how the group may develop and to agree some next steps.
ConnectReconnect with Manchester Permaculture Network July 2021– Make contact with members who were previously active in the network.

– Organise a get together either digitally or in person to explore ways that the network could develop and / or become more active again.

– Agree next steps for the network if appropriate developed as a result of the meeting.
???Embrace the unexpected!Ongoing– Keep an eye out for possible opportunities and / or projects that look interesting.

– Allocate time to engage in suitable opportunities / projects as they arise.

Key: Living and Doing, Learning and Growing, Sharing and Connecting, Embracing

Evaluation and Reflection

As there is no evaluation within this framework I added the SIX HATS tool and used this to evaluate the design and to reflect upon it.

White – Facts
– I have created a plan which gives focus to where I would like to take my permaculture practice beyond the diploma. This includes the areas I would like to focus upon, and also how and when I would like to make that focus.

– The framework was very effective for this design. It helped me to formulate my thinking and work towards developing a simple action plan.
Yellow – Positive

– The Permaculture Wheel is an effective visual representation of a key outcome of the design – the way that permaculture will manifest itself in my life beyond my diploma.

– The design has allowed me to clarify my thinking and has given me a much clearer sense of where I will head next.

– I really enjoyed using the framework – I think that is particularly good to use with designs where you are trying to inspire open, creative thinking.

– I found Jasmine Dale’s observation tool to be a really positive and dynamic starting point for this design. I would love to use it again on a more land focussed design and see how it works there.

– I loved the way that the tools within the Discover aspect of this design really flowed and ideas grew and developed from one to the next all leading to the activity exploring boundaries which I feel was a key activity in developing a focus for th design.

– I feel really positive about the way that the Permaculture Wheel that I created emerged as a result of the thinking that had gone before it. As a tool for clarifying thinking it felt like this was a really useful one which revealed itself as a tool to use as a direct result of the Discover activities that I had used.

– I used the Holistic Decision Making framework as inspiration once again within this design and again I found it really useful. My application of this tool has always been tweaked to suit the focus that I want to take but I really value the way that it can serve as a starting point for many different things. Here it felt like the perfect way to explore how the Permaculture Wheel that I had created, which is a fairly abstract thing, could begin to manifest itself in solid actions within my life.
Black – Negative– As this is a design which is very much a starting point there was much less to think about within the Deliver section of the framework. I have created a simple action plan which feels enough in this context. Maybe the nature of the design means there was always going to be less to think about within that element of the framework?
Green – Ideas
– I liked developing the Permaculture Wheel which emerged organically during the design process. It has allowed me to visualise the emotional and conceptual elements of the design perfectly and is a good outcome of the design.

– It was great use the Patterns in Nature tool within the Discover aspect of the framework. I really like the way that it moves my thinking in many different directions which help me to think about things from a very different perspective, whilst also making a well rounded observation.
Blue – Review
– There is a wide breadth of thinking within this design. It seems that the tools have helped me to take a broad approach in my thinking.

– I have created an action plan within the design – it will be interesting to revisit this in a couple of months time and see how the design has manifested itself in reality.
– The framework and the process opened up ideas to me, revealed unexpected possibilities, clarified direction and gave direction to my thinking. It was a positive experience which I really enjoyed.
Red – Emotion– I am excited about the design that I have created and look forward to seeing how it develops over the coming months. – I really enjoyed creating this design. I loved the way that the design emerged as a result of the different tools that I used and how so many unexpected elements and connections revealed themselves.

I returned to the patterns in nature and used them as a foundation to create an additional personal reflection upon this design and upon the point that I feel I have reached at the end of my diploma journey.

BranchingWithin this design I got a real sense of how Permaculture Design helps me reach to the light in terms of new ideas and thinking, but also how it helps me ground and root myself in my life. There is a deep sense of reaching out and connecting to new ideas and people but also to stretching down to put down roots. I love the way that it brings these things together for me, and in this design I got a real sense of that happening.
SphereI feel that within this design the framework and tools allowed me to develop a really well rounded sense of thinking and observation which is a really difficult thing to achieve. I also love the way that this process allowed me to really focus upon the fact that what I am actually aiming towards within this design is a sense of a Permaculture Life. I feel that it is something that is integral to my life and the acknowledgement of that during the mid-point of this design was the point at which the design truly began to take shape for me.
SpiralWIthin this design I got a strong sense of growth as the framework and tools helped me to bring my thinking together and to shape my ideas. It was so exciting to feel the sense of growth and possiblity that was emerging as the design developed – an organic sense that I am not sure that I have felt previously during a design process.

Maybe this is to do with feeling more comfortable with the tools that I am using, and the way that I use them collectively? I am not sure but it is something that I would like to continue to explore in future designs that I do.
WebThe design gave a sense of how my Permaculture practice is connected to so many different things both personally and professionally. And this in turn gave a sense of the way that the tools can and should be about opening and revealing possiblity rather than closing down options at an early stage in a design. Again, maybe this is something that I feel more comfortable to explore and acknowledge now that I feel more fluent in the tools and frameworks that I am using.
RadialIn this design I also got a sense of how the tools allowed me to reach out to many different things in many different directions and this felt like a very empowering and exciting process. Especially when I embraced the fact that I may not always be able to anticipate where this reaching would take me!

I also got a great sense of reaching out for ideas and possiblities whilst always returning and reconnecting to the core. This is reflective of my thinking within this design but I suspect that it also reflects how I wish to use Permaculture as an emotional and intellectual core going forward.

This sense of reaching out also reflects how important I hope the sense of learning and curiosity I have developed as a result of my Diploma has been to me – it has brought my Permaculture practice to life and it is something that I hope I can maintain going forward.
Random ScatterOne of the key things that emerged within the Permaculture Wheel that I created is how important the unexpected has become to me throughout the Diploma – and the subsequent embracing of the unexpected! This has manifested itself in many different ways and it really resonates for me that it sits at the heart of this design in terms of allowing space for it, being open to what it brings, and celebrating the energy that it injects into things.
HoneycombStrength through connection is a running theme throughout this design in terms of the Permaculture Community, but more importantly in terms of my family and friends. I really appreciate the way this design has allowed me to acknowledge this and to define it, particulalry as an aspect to build resilience and meaning in my family life and beyond.
TorusWithin this design there was a sense of energy and flow as the design developed, as ideas emerged, and as links and connections manifested themselves. This sense of flow was really exciting and made me think alot about the importance of energy and flow within the plan that was created as a result of the design. I am mindful to observe where the energy flows within my Permaculture Practice, where it comes from, and how I use it. The design has also made it clear to me how much having a sense of purpose in design work gives it and you energy, and also how connection to others does that same. These are both aspects that I will look to explore beyond my Diploma.