And I've planted a small orchard protected by an edible windbreak/small forest garden.
Lots of things!
I had my Interim Portfolio Assessment in July last year, so my first five designs are signed off. You can see them by clicking on the diploma portfolio tab above, or these individual links.
1. Our small city garden
2. Reducing my soap footprint
3. Turning our house into a palace
4. Researching the diploma
5. Effective work (and a pay rise)
There's a nice mix of designs in the first half of my portfolio. The first is land-based, on a very small scale. The second you might describe as 'manufacturing'. The third, well, I'm not sure how to describe that and I'm not sure it worked too well as a design, but I certainly learned a lot through doing it. The fourth is a collaborative design, and a contribution to the development of the diploma process. The fifth is my favourite - very much a design for personal effectiveness, but intensely practical and certainly the most useful from the first half of my diploma.
The second half of my diploma feels more coherent, and is more land-based, which is unsurprising given the amount of land we now have.
7. Land management
8. Edible windbreak
9. Hay meadow
10. What next?
The sixth design is about us rehoming a small flock of hens, which has been a delight (and also a bit of a nuisance). The seventh is my biggest design, still in progress, about what on earth we do with this space we have here. Eight and nine are nested designs, smaller parts of the larger land management design, around an edible windbreak to protect the veg garden, and about how to manage our traditional hay meadow. The final design will be about planning how to keep permaculture in my life after the diploma.
I've committed to accrediting at the National Diploma Gathering next March with my diploma buddy Barry. We started at roughly the same time, and we have regular check ins with each other every six weeks or so, which is a lovely way to make progress.
I've booked my Final Portfolio Assessment for 10th September. Lots to do in the next few weeks!
I feel slightly overwhelmed by the space we have here. I've never been responsible for anything other than a 100 square foot garden before, and so eleven acres is rather a step up. I struggle with the idea of 'land ownership' - in some senses I feel like we don't own it (because we have a large mortgage), and I also feel like we shouldn't own it (because should anybody own land?)
These thoughts have held me back from thinking about what we might do. I have a constant sense of 'am I allowed to do this?' and 'what will people think if I do that?' For a long time I felt like I didn't know anything, but that feeling is slowly passing as I read as much as I can, talk to as many people as I can, join organisations like the Dry Stone Walling Association, and wander about the fields identifying plants and fixing walls.
This year I'm starting to use my diploma to start thinking about the future more. Taking it step by step is starting to make it feel more manageable (although I do still have slight palpitations when I think about how many dry stone walls we have).
Of course, I also have too many projects on the go. Aside from the diploma, and general land management, we also have ongoing large DIY projects in the house, and I work full time, and have various other ongoing activities. Periodically I assess my life and see what I need to drop, and I think it's about time to do that again.
My vision for the diploma is to accredit next March, and I now have just over six weeks until my Final Portfolio Assessment, when all ten of my designs (and the supporting information) need to be ready. That's not very long. Five have been signed off, another one is ready, three are in progress, and one hasn't even been started yet. Lots to do.
As for my long term vision for this place... well, that's part of design seven (land management). We want to manage the space for wildlife. We don't need to earn a living from the land, which is good - but also means that I work full time, which means any management needs to be done at the weekend, or evenings or holidays. Longer term I'd like to drop at least one day at work (part of design five - effective work and a pay rise).
I have six weeks to prepare for my Final Portfolio Assessment. These are my next steps for each design.
- Buy tracing paper and finish map overlays
- Write up analysis
- Draw final maps
- Write up
- Finish reading the meadows-related library I seem to have acquired
- Find someone to cut and remove the grass
- Decide which design process to use
- Get thinking!
All doable, but I do need to focus. I have Fridays off for the next few weeks, and also two full weeks off in August. Best get on.