Final evaluation

What went well?

  • the learning pathway as a design was beneficial to embed permaculture into the diploma process and as a framework for the diploma
  • diploma tutor, Pippa Johns: Pippa and I worked well together, we have a similar style of working and I benefited from Pippa’s experience and clarity in design work and teaching permaculture
  • diploma guild: although we met rarely, it was always very beneficial in many ways –  inspiration for designs, sharing successes and challenges with designing, creating connections and building community
  • working with BPT has been the guiding light of my diploma:
    • the opportunity to support on their permaculture courses was invaluable for my permaculture learning
    • being welcomed into the team, encouraged to participate and supported in becoming a teacher is testimony to the brilliant team of people in BPT and has been invaluable nurturing environment for my development in permaculture design and practice
  • doing the portfolio online worked well in terms of being able to tweak, sending to tutors and dissemination
  • the ten designs evolved well in relation to my circumstances
  • I was glad to have included a building design in terms to gain experience in that field
  • the diploma process, action learning focus and assessment criteria worked well to facilitate permaculture learning and practice – how well designed! – I feel I have a much deeper understanding and better skills

What was challenging?

  • personally I found the learning pathway a challenging design to do at the beginning of the diploma: it became a big project in that I was reconnecting with, researching and questioning permaculture design as well as surveying my learning environment – I also found the SADIM design process confusing at this stage in terms of how to separate out the different stages and not yet realising that I could move freely from one stage to another within the broader framework
  • doing the portfolio online: spending a lot of time on the computer was not good for the health, engendered a superficial engagement with the projects, lead easily to distraction, disabled creativity, used a lot of energy (embodied and electricity), meant for me an imbalance of spending time documenting things on the computer to the detriment of just doing stuff
  • focusing on community living at Hoathly Hill was often challenging even though through the challenges a great learning experience in collaboration – my personal, family and professional life was often put on the back burner in favour of community stuff and I am redressing this to a more healthy engagement for myself

Did I achieve my aims and learning outcomes?

Aims

  • over the next two years gain a qualification and experience in permaculture design in order to be able to work in that field professionally – well, it took three years
  • become resilient in my home life in terms of health, food, shelter, clothing and work – I feel I could go much further in terms of resilience, for example the garden design did not aim for us to produce most of our food as far as possible
  • innovate in permaculture design and inspire others – yes, in exploring the edges of permaculture design and drawing on adult learning theories, group work, community development, anthrosophy, etc
  • gain skills in edible gardening, herb gardening, forest gardening – yes, and I’m looking forward to this becoming more of a focus
  • engage with and contribute to community life constructively – yes, my main occupation!
  • gain more understanding of nature, in particular through observation, study, walking, celebrating festivals, and apply this to the design process – yes and at the beginning of a lifelong process
  • become a teacher of permaculture, allowing all people to participate in a real, creative and active learning environment – yes, developing permaculture learning with Brighton Permaculture Trust teaching team
  • reconnect with the Transition Movement – pathway designed, implementation coming soon!
  • apply permaculture ethics, principles, design processes and design tools in my projects and other projects – yes and loving it!

Learning outcomes

  • a qualification in permaculture design – yes, hopefully soon!
  • ten permaculture designs in all domains – yes, although tools & technology were incidental as was health and spiritual well-being
  • work in permaculture design and related fields professionally – yes, with Brighton Permaculture Trust
  • become a teacher of permaculture design – yes!
  • gain practical and design experience in vegetable growing on a family scale and forest gardening – yes with my garden design, forest garden design and field design
  • gain an understanding of nature through observation and study and write a book on nature’s patterns – a little, but it’s the tip of the iceberg
  • gain experience and expertise in working with groups and in communities – yes, in my community and with BPT
  • connecting and working with the Permaculture Association – for the future
  • disseminating the diploma on the internet – yes, with the online diploma

What would I do differently?

  • designing my diploma support:
    • not having a background in ecology, I feel more thorough review of the material in the Permaculture Design Course and extra learning would have improved my designs
    • I believe it would have been beneficial for me to have more design support in the beginning in relation to the gaps in design process experience and personal learning patterns (I spent a lot of time trying to work out the design process on my own rather than simply asking or giving it a try)
    • I think ideally it would be great to get feedback on each design as it is completed, moving from one design to the next (in practice this is difficult to achieve as I did have several design on the go simultaneously and it would require more tutor time which needs to be financed)
  • really embedding working with nature in terms of the earth care of each design and choice of design projects: two of the three land-based design of the second five were pathways as the context required – in the future I will focus on developing land-based design skills and practice
  • really embedding sustainability, resilience and regeneration in my designs

Vision

  • to continue to deepen my permaculture learning and practice by:
    • studying nature through action learning
    • spending more time outside
    • more land-based designs and practice
    • reconnecting with Transition
  • become a diploma tutor
  • work as a permaculture designer and teacher

Next steps

  • tie up diploma loose ends: toolboxes, website rejig
  • make a pinboard of designs in progress in my study
  • find out how to become a diploma tutor
  • connect with the PA to support the International Permaculture Convergence 2015 in London
  • investigate further learning opportunities: CSA involvement, study