This design was made when my father was still alive. It was for him and my mother, both of whom loved gardening, but were getting too old to dig and manage a garden. So the main goal was to see how to design "work" out of the food growing process. Or in other words, how to make the garden truly low maintenance. At the time, I knew I was only ever going to be able to work on the garden 5 to 10 days a year (to make and to manage), so that was also a major consideration. My parents also loved nature, watching birds and insects in the garden, so that made it very easy to design as a permaculture garden.
Choosing a methodology
This was one of the first designs I that I was able to design and implement in my own way. On the PDC I took, SADIM was the methodology of choice, so given I had not experimented with the other methodologies, and given I found SADIM very clear and logical, it was the only clear choice at the time.
Note on this published design
As discussed in my The dyslexic way of creating permaculture documentation design, I collated a lot of information for many of my designs, and made presentations from some of them. This is a presentation I occasionally use when introducing permaculture and permaculture design to people with no permaculture knowledge, hence it starts with the basics. To avoid duplicating effort, I have taken the slide show presentation that I made for this design and uploaded it verbatim in this article. It was made a long time ago, and I would probably change some of it now, but it serves as a good reminder for me as to how my design skills have evolved. I have a lot more info on this design, so as and where necessary, and when I find the time, I will make an attempt to upload some of the other content, such as mind maps. There are also lots of video clips of me showing people around this garden, but I doubt I will ever find time to edit and upload them. A friend who is a professional documentary maker has also taken footage (in exchange for a course), but has not sent me the finished video yet.
Working through the methodology
Manage, Evaluate & Tweak
Some random updated pictures
Making this garden has been really great fun and extremely educational. The most pleasing aspect of this for me is the diversity of people who have come to get involved, either to help with the build or just to come and see the place. As uncomfortable as this may sound to some of you, Permaculture in the UK is predominantly practised by white middle class people (where's the edge here), yet this project and other great projects such as May Gardens in Morden are attracting lot of ethnic minorities, which for me is so satisfying, as that was one of my aims when I started teaching. The number of people who come and get inspired and start to realise how simple and yet effective permaculture design can be is increasing every year, and projects such as this are bridging the gap to help ordinary people start to think about their environment and how their actions can effect the world they live in.
From the clients perspective, I overheard my mother speaking to a friend who is a trained agriculturalist. He was asking how much work we put into this garden. My mum paused and said, "what do you mean work, I don't work this garden. Rakesh comes over a few times a year and spends time in the garden. Not sure what he is doing, but mostly looking and occasionally planting something he just found". I would have liked to have seen his face, but I stood behind the door to eavesdrop. He persisted, "You must dig or plant or weed", mum replied, "No not really", "how about watering, you must water the garden", "no not really", "So what do you do then", "I mainly pick things and eat them". It was as if I had given her a script to read, it was such a perfect answer. So that for me is the real test of how successful this garden is. No watering, no digging, no weeding, no adding nutrients, just eating and enjoying.
Since my father passed away I am now living at this place, so I see the garden almost everyday when I am in the UK. So I have now finally started building the perma-shed, after which I will then have a few new places I can design and plant up. Next year I may also redesign the OM bed and look at growing some more annuals.