Just say ‘no’

According to Elton John ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’, but for me, it seems, in fact, to be ‘no’.

I may need to take some lessons from Max!

They say that if you want something doing, you should ask a busy person. So I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t some noticeboard out there listing busy people that has my name on. Now, don’t get me wrong…I love being involved with the various organisations that I do voluntary work for, and I’m happy with the paid work that I do, and I want to continue growing some of my own food, and making items for the house, and keeping chickens, and cooking pretty much everything from scratch, and studying for my diploma, and teaching adults, and… well, perhaps you get the idea. However, I also want to feel a bit less overwhelmed with things to do!

So, this week I have said ‘no’ twice. Once in relation to charity work and once in relation to paid work. I should be feeling relieved – I already do lots of charitable work and this was in addition to an extra role that I have already taken on recently; and I will only be unavailable for 10 days of paid freelance work – but I seem, instead, to be feeling guilty.

I normally always agree to help out with whatever I’m asked to, but recently when I mentioned this to a friend, she reminded me of the three permaculture ethics: earth care; people care; and what I have always referred to as ‘fair share’ (because they rhyme). The friend described the third ethic as ‘sharing surplus’ and suggested that I should be sharing my ‘surplus’ energy rather than all of my energy… and that I should consider myself as well as other when I think of ‘people care’. It’s true – and I guess also that ‘people care’ should begin at home, but I still can’t help feeling that perhaps I shouldn’t have said ‘no’! Perhaps I just need something to fret about, or perhaps it’s just that it’s a new experience for me…

Anyway, I’m off now to get on with a bit of work for the Permaculture Association and then I might get round to making a felt case for my camera that I have, so far, not found time for!

I have a cunning plan…

… a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel (thanks Blackadder)… at least I don’t have it yet, but I will one day.

And what is my plan for? Well, everything really – I am hoping to have a mosaic of permaculture designs to apply to various aspects of my (sustainable) life and, together they will constitute my PLAN.

I told a friend this a while ago and the response was ‘permaculture is gardening fascism’! Well, not the variety that I have encountered. To me permaculture is whole systems design – emulating patterns from nature in human systems to make them efficient and self-sustaining. This appeals to me because, by training, I’m an ecologist – I have a PhD in land reclamation, which involved studying the re-creation of vegetation systems on restored open cast coal sites. I am fascinated by looking at natural relationships and seeing how these can be applied to physical and social systems created by people. For me, the easiest way to think about this sort of design is in my garden, because I understand the value and function of things like soil structure, micro-organisms, micro-climate, water, pollinators, decomposers and vegetation. But I am increasingly intrigued about how I can apply systems-level thinking to other aspects of my life: starting a new business, working with other people, designing a course for adult learners…

Now, I have to confess that I work best when there are targets and deadlines and a ‘reward’ at the end. All of my working life these days involves relatively short tasks that I am paid for. So when I edit a scientific paper, I know that the ‘reward’ will be a payment of £XX and that the work will be completed in just a few days. Perfect for me. However, planning my life doesn’t involve specific deadlines and prompt payback (well, it might, but only in certain circumstances) so I needed to find an approach that would help me to get on and make plans. I have, therefore, taken the plunge and registered to do a Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design… this requires me to produce 10 permaculture-based designs over the next two years. I have a tutor to guide me, but I can choose whatever designs I like; so, I’m going to take the opportunity to focus on various aspects of my life and actually come up with some real plans… rather than just vaguely thinking about ‘stuff’ as I seem to have been doing over recent years. This may not be the way forward for lots of people, but it’s ideal for me – a structure, with a reward at the end (I love qualifications… I have loads of them!) and some support along the way.

I had my first tutorial last week – it was great – and I drafted the first version of my first design over the weekend – that was fun too. I think that I am probably a learning junkie!

So many interesting ideas out there

Sometimes I find all the information out there about sustainability overwhelming – it’s difficult to sift through what’s relevant and what’s not. However, I’m always sure that the things Mark Waghorn posts on his blog will be worth a look and will include lovely pictures. I suggest you check it out: Off-grid design

Oh, and he successfully completed our Permaculture Design Certificate recently, so he’s a good guy!

Sowing the seeds

It’s that time of the year when we place those little packages of energy into the soil and watch as they emerge – transformed into growing plants. In my greenhouse there are courgettes, squashes, peppers, chillies, leeks, tomatillo, even a few tomatoes (which I am hopeless at growing). But I have been thinking about the other sorts of seeds that I have been sowing… giving away plants and seeds to encourage other people to produce even a little bit of food, sharing ideas about sustainability through this blog and other electronic media, teaching permaculture and ecology. I wonder what will germinate from those activities and whether I will ever know.

Perhaps I am most delighted by my sister – a confirmed non-gardener until a few years ago when I started supplying her with small plants: just courgettes, tomatoes and peppers at first (all things she loves to eat). Then a friend in France gave her pumpkin seeds, and now she is growing raspberries and rocket, strawberries and squashes, potatoes and plums and much, much more.

So if you have spare plants, extra seeds or good ideas, share them out and watch as they grow!

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: