Design Cover Sheet

Title of Design

St Werburghs Medicine Garden
Dates of Design October 2012 – January 2013
Design Brief

The brief of this design was to create a medicine garden based on a donated allotment plot
that could be used as a community garden with multiple functions. The main desires were
for a teaching space, so that community herbalists from the Rhizome Clinic could have
somewhere for the participants in their herbal courses to see plants through their cycles,
improve their plant identification and have practical experience harvest medicines.

The allotment was also visioned as a growing space, here plants could be grown for
demonstration so that people can become familiar with them, as well as have some plant
material available for medicine making collectively. Finally the allotment was also planned as a
social space for community events and participation.

I become involved at the invitation of Becs Griffiths, a friend from the Rhizome Clinic and
co-organiser of the Radical Herbalism Gathering. A number of other people involved had
horticultural experience but not in growing medicinal plants, therefore I was enrolled to
assist in designing a realistic planting plan that the community group forming could then
implement.

How this design meets the Assessment Criteria:
Demonstrating Design Skills
Overview of Design Process
Survey
• Interviewing Becs & others involved in the allotment project
• Researching & collating potential plants to grow
• Undertaking a site survey
Analysis
• Undertaking a herbs needs & yields analysis to assess which plants are suitable for
the site
• Applying permaculture principles
Design
• Preparing a concept plan
• Preparing a final design
Implementation
• The community group are implementing the design, which is documented on their
facebook page (see my design documentation on my website)
Evaluation
• Can be seen in this sheet
• I receive semi-regular feedback about how the community project is going in
relationship to the design


Use of Permaculture Ethics, Principles & Theory
See final design report. In summary:
• Observe & Interact –survey undertaken, observations & research of medicinal plants
• Catch & Store energy – the hazel & willow borders catch and store energy when
used from local resources, the garden is designed to save energy (regularly
harvested & annual plants at the top of the slope), water butt
• Obtain a Yield – successful teaching space, quantity of plant to enable harvesting,
community outcomes
• Apply self regulation & accept feedback – ensuring plant coverage to prevent
unnecessary weeding, self sowing plants and maximised perennials to create as much
of a self sustaining system as possible
• Use & value renewable resources & services – optimising volunteer labour, using
scavenged resources & recycled materials, mulching & building soil
• Produce no waste – compost system re-designed, reclaimed materials, optimum
quantity of each herb so as to not produce ‘waste’ or surplus plant material that is
unharvested
• Design from patterns to details – looking at the whole space holistically & path
layout, taking teaching beds concept as a model for the details
• Integrate rather than segregate – optimising the different niches to make the most of
the small space, for example medicinal climbers up the fence, medicinal aquatic
plants in the pond already established
• Use small & slow solutions – ensuring a realistic implementation plan, longer term
sheet mulching & ongoing community efforts
• Use & value diversity – huge diversity of medicinal plants, aim for diversity over
material quantity as teaching is main function
• Use edges & value the marginal – bed layout is optimising edges, also using other
edges of space, such as fences & structures as spaces for vertical growing
• Creatively use & respond to change – being aware design will change over time
depending on resources that become available, new people becoming involved,
donated plants and so forth
Ethics
• Earth care – overharvesting of medicinal plants & industrial agriculturally grown
medicinal crops are harming ecosystems across the planet. Growing our own
medicine, and learning this skills as a community is very important, hence the ethic
nature of this allotment.
• People care – supporting people to learn about herbalism, nourish themselves and
develop their self care practices. Bringing people together to build community
through gardening & herbs.
• Fair shares – sharing medicinal harvests, organising for greater accessibility to herbal
medicine
Design Tools & Techniques Used
• Needs & Yields Analysis
• David Holmgren’s Principles
How this design meets the Assessment Criteria:
Learning from, and developing your permaculture practice
Effectiveness of Design & Design Outcomes
Design outcomes:
• The design has been embraced by the group and is being implemented over time.
• Yields will include:
o Community empowerment through working together collectively
o Medicine for volunteers
o Learning for everyone who visits the site, as well as how this benefit
cascades (e.g. more people learning how to grow & make medicine)
o Biodiversity benefits for the allotment
o Seed security & genetic stewardship through cultivating uncommon
medicinal plants
Personal & professional outcomes for myself:


• A good example of my medicinal landscaping skills
• Greater confidence in my own knowledge of medicinal plants & medicinal
horticulture
• Design addition to portfolio
Evaluation Summary
What went well:
• The allotment is a manageable scale with clear functions making the design process
easier
• I have a good relationship with the community group so the design was also very fun
and communication was clear and consistent
• The group were supportive of my first concept design, making the design less work
as there was not any feedback to respond to
What I would have done differently:
• Better documented my design process
• Made the herbs needs & yields analysis more thorough so I could use it for future
designs
• Got my hands dirty on the site myself if I had the time and energy to visit Bristol
regularly!
Costings Summary
I identified to the group which plants were best bought as larger plants. Most other tools &
materials were scavenged from freecyle and community networks such as Bristol Permaculture
Group. £60 was spent on mypex to initially surface mulch the site. I also cultivated & donated a
large amount of plants to the site.
Learning Pathway Reflections
• This design was enjoyable because it was very aligned to other passions and interests
I share – herbalism, which mean that I could poor over herbals, utilise all of the
knowledge I have developed over the years and optimise my niche in medicinal
landscaping.
• The design also felt worthwhile doing for free, in solidarity with friends and allies in
Bristol, the non-monetary relationship felt more empowering.
How this design meets the Assessment Criteria:
Applying permaculture in your own life
• This design opportunity has contributed to marketing my skills in medicinal
landscaping that will hopefully support my right livelihood as a designer.
• This design gave me opportunities to research medicinal plants I wasn’t familiar with,
aiding my own pathway in herbalism which can contribute long term to my self care
and family & community care in developing skills in herbal medicine.
How this design meets the Assessment Criteria:
Applying permaculture to your work and projects
Assessment categories engaged with through this design:
• Design Consultancy – I developed a design for a community group to a specific
design brief .
• Community building – this design was for a community to support them in
developing self reliance and self determination.

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