Erkki’s DPA Diary

[Erkki’s DPA main page][The Portfolio]

I am keeping this diary – which I started on 12.1.2020 – as a web-site page instead of a blog posting. It is open for anyone to read if interested in my Permaculture Diploma path. As such it is an appendix to my DPA Mainpage and quite ”deep” in the web-site. No need for it to jump up on social media. I am writing it backwards so if you want to read in chronological order you should start from the bottom.

26.6.2021

In page 7 of Looby Macnamara’s People & Permaculture there is an Activity with the question ”what does People Care mean to me?”. I drew a Mandala.

24.6.2021

I spent some time last night and this morning reading parts of Looby Macnamara’s People & Permaculture. I thought the Design Web might help me with some aspects of the design. I thought I’ll just copy the Design Web picture from the books cover into my notebook (instead of using my Miro board) which I now decided to call it my ”Learning journal”. Of course the picture didn’t quite come the same. I have no explanation for the spiral…

23.6.2021

So Monday 21.6. was Summer Solstice and today 23.6. was traditionally Midsummer eve when Midsummer festivities started. Midsummer was placed on 24.6. by the Catholic Church so it would be ”opposite” Christmas in the calendar. But as it is a pagan Midsummer celebration 21.6. is the correct date. However in Finland it has been located on the Saturday between 20.-26. June, so this year on 26.6. According to Wikipedia it has been so since 1954 which sounds strange to me – I was sure it was on 23.-24.6. when I was young but looks like I’m wrong.

Midsummer would be an important subject in its own right but today we had the 2nd meeting with my tutor Andreas so that is the main subject of today. The first meeting was more an introductory meeting but now Andreas had looked into my Diploma work so far and gave some valuable feedback and suggestions. Overall Andreas seemed to be happy with what he saw, so nothing to worry about. Without going into all the details of what was discussed in one hour I’ll try to sum up some main points:

  • There is a certain fuzziness in aims and targets of the design. Design is about decisions on how to reach agreed goals. Would be good to define Vision, Mission and Mid-term goals (2y, 5y, 10y).
  • Document decisions and why they were made.
  • Our house is the stepping point into the whole design. How was it designed, what were the goals, why were decisions made about implementation. Check ”Smart Goals”.
  • The Matrix in THE MAIN ELEMENTS AND SYSTEMS is well structured. Think of ”Scale of Permanence”.
  • Bill Mollison: check how to approach design from different aspects.
  • How to influence society around us?
  • Water design: connections to other elements
  • What aims do I have before contacting Andreas again?

So inspired by the discussion and combining those impulses with what I had already planned I am listing To-DO’s below as an answer to the last point above:

  1. The Water design that I have already started
  2. The House design (for which I have a good base in the Talo – article in Finnish.
  3. Rewrite and update the DPA main page and Portfolio page to reflect current situation and thinking.
  4. Analyse the interviews we made of each other with Marja in May-June.
  5. Write a chapter about Vision, Mission and Goals as a part of the Pathway description.

The DPA Pathway

I started writing the new version of the DPA Main Page – actually it is the page describing the DPA Pathway. I made a DPA flowchart in my Miro board (screenshot below).

It is actually a variation of the (V)OBREDIM(ET) design process I posted in August 2020. With the thicker lines I’m highlighting what I have mainly done so far. In the Observation phase I have mostly focused on the externalities and the Functions and Systems there. The article THE MAIN ELEMENTS AND SYSTEMS I think is doing a pretty good job there although I will have to develope it further. What I haven’t focused on yet is the Internal side what could be called Zone 00. That is the reason for the ”certain fuzziness in aims and targets of the design”. Connected to that is the Learning Pathway and understanding what tools are available for tackling Zone 00. I just browsed (not the first time) through Looby MacNamara’s People & Permaculture. One more thing on my To-Do list:

  1. Read ”People & Permaculture” and use Design Web, write the Zone 00 article.
  2. Describe a Learning Pathway

13.6.2021

Recent inspirations:

In the meantime I was thinking about my Permaculture Diploma process and specifically the Tutor. When I started the Diploma process back in 2017 I wanted to continue in the French system and agreed with Steve Reed that he would be my tutor. But that never quite happened due to different interruptions (including covid19) and delays on my side. What I have done so far has basically been a result of my independent work. Now that the Nordic Permaculture Academy was founded it started to make more sense to do the Diploma in the Nordic system with a Nordic tutor. Andreas Jonsson agreed to be my tutor and we had the first 1 hour meeting online on 8.6.2021.

23.4.2021

During March and April I got a bit distracted from the Diploma work because I decided to hold my annual bee centric beekeeping course already in March as it seemed obvious that also this year an offline course would not be possible. This winter my thinking about honeybees and beekeeping has been in quite a process and I wanted to redesign the course which meant quite a lot of work and reading. Already last autumn I had decided that I have to get rid of my standard Farrar-hives and concentrate more on the top bar hives. I had found it impossible to motivate myself to do the winter varroa treatment of my hives with oxalic acid. Some things that have influenced my thinking were listening to the Arboreal Apiculture podcast, reading Thomas Seeley’s book ”The Lives of Bees” and looking for more information on the internet about log hives, tree beekeeping and rewilding bees. I had to realise that what I had called bee centric (topbar hives) was not bee centric enough and I had to ”radicalise” my approach. I have several big logs lying on the yard and I purchased a bigger chainsaw for making log hives etc. In preparing for the Permapuheet I formulated the first part on how honeybees have designed their life in a way that matches with permaculture principles and in the second part I tried to draft what is the purpose of caring for bees from a permaculture perspective. All of this did serve the Diploma as well because certainly beekeeping or caring for bees will be one of the sub-designs. More about that later.


14.2.2021

Yesterday evening we had a online Finnish Permaculture Diploma Guild meeting with Dominik Jais, Marja and myself. First we discussed Dominik’s last design about Water – mainly water collection from the roofs at Beyond Buckthorns. Dominik’s designs are always clear and well structured. I would have hoped a little more analysis comparing the supply (water collection from the roofs) and demand (how much water is needed in the garden). We also discussed the Nordic situation with the Nordic Permaculture Institute and the new Nordic Permaculture Academy. It is clear that in the future we need a structure where Diploma’s can be done in Finnish.

Finally we discussed very shortly my design. Dominik had read the Zones chapter and had commented already earlier by email that my design structure is a bit confusing. I understood from the discussion that it related a lot to something I have given a lot of thought to lately – design retrofitting. It’s a concept discussed at the UK permaculture association diploma MOG’s – basically making a design about something that has already been implemented. Often you hear someone explaining that they actually have a design but it was never written down or documented. So then you write it afterwards. That is our situation as well as there is a huge amount of actions we have already taken in Iso-orvokkiniitty since we came here in 2014. It is true that we were from the start permaculture oriented and have taken permaculture perspective to most things we have done. But equally true is that – despite our attempts to write a design – neither Marja or me has a permaculture design for Iso-orvokkiniitty. However while starting this permaculture design I have concluded that retrofitting doesn’t make sense and does not serve us. So I need to observe what was here originally and what we have already done. The starting point of the design must be what is here now – not what was here originally when we started.

Of course there is still a challenge that in principle we should now freeze the action. Design first – then implement the design. I’m afraid a total freeze is not possible but we should now get to the point where existing and new functions and elements are as much as possible designed first.

At some point I thought that after Sectors and Zones I could jump into Design. But it does not seem to be so. I am now looking at Iso-orvokkiniitty from a ”Planning Area” point of view. Not sure if that is a known concept in Permaculture but as Iso-orvokkiniitty is such a big project it is necessary to take it in smaller bites. The Planning areas reflect different observed conditions (sectors and zones), existing implementation in different parts of Iso-orvokkiniitty or plans we have in mind. Each one of the Planning Areas should then be designed separately. Of course there are also activities that encompass several planning areas like forest garden, beekeeping, mushroom, energy, water etc. So there could still be changes in what sub-designs I will be doing. Before that I’ll still need to do a Input-Output analysis, Elements-Functions analysis and a SWOC analysis of Iso-orvokkiniitty as a whole. Then I think will come a Draft Master Design. From there I’ll go into chosen sub-designs which can cause changes in the master design as well as changes in the zoning.

30.1.2021

Today I went through my problems with creating zones with Photoshop with Marja and we concluded it’s the wrong software for that (it’s pixels not vectors). So I switched to Illustrator and things start to look better. Ok, I’ll have to upgrade my Adobe Creator subscription but they have a campaign.

I also played a little with Miro. A learning curve there too but it doesn’t look too difficult. Here is how it looks after one evening. That part with a lot of red connections won’t work… Just starting.


27.1.2021:

So I’m not such a good diary writer – looks like 5 months has passed. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t done anything but lack of time is the main challenge. Or wrong priorities? Anyway I have to work first (I mean my business), there is a couple of construction projects going on here that need to be finalised but the good news is that we got to heat and enjoy our sauna for the first time on New Years eve and every Saturday since then (one more topic for a retrofitted permaculture design – no, I did actually write a part of it already last year). Then comes the permaculture design and often I am too tired by then. But I am not giving up. I few topics to note:

  1. I did publish the sector analysis on 13.9.2020. Now the next article that I am writing is the zones. I have started it right after finalising the Sector article but I got stuck in the maps. I took aerial photographs with our drone and Marja stiched them together. Then was the question how to draw the zones. I found a free app ”Krita” but didn’t get well along with it. So I decided to get back my Adobe subscription so that I can use Photoshop. I’m not sure if it is really ideal either but I seem to get some kind of zone maps done with it. But it’s not really intuitive to someone who is not an experienced Photoshop user.
  2. I was asked by someone in the Finnish Permaculture Association to write an article about our house specifically from a permaculture design point of view. I put quite a lot of effort in it and finally published it on the Iso-orvokkiniitty website as it didn’t quite fit in the Permaculture Associations blog concept. The article is in Finnish but I will later use it for developing the House permaculture design for this Diploma work.
  3. Marja has been writing designs for her Diploma which she is doing in the UK system. I have also twice participated in the UK ”Diploma Monthly Online Gathering” and am looking at the UK Diploma material. Interesting examples of some diploma works. Someone recommended using Miro.com for planning the Diploma path. I’m checking that out.

17.8.2020:

Thinking about the design process. The most commonly used in permaculture design are CEAP, SADIM(ET) and OBREDIM(ET). The basic idea is always the same: first you collect information and observe; then you evaluate; then design; then plan and implement. After that maintain and possibly tweak. Before any of that – or at least before design – there should be an idea or vision of what you are up to. If you are designing for a customer you need to interview her/him, but if you are designing for yourself you need to figure it out yourself – interview yourself. If you are doing something together with your partner you can interview each other (we did that).

Graph 1.

My plan is to use the (V)OBREDIM(ET) design process because I like that it is divided in several steps. However I would like to underline the iterative nature of the process – especially when it is your own project that will not have a clear end and maybe not even a clear starting point. Also I think a vision needs to be defined.

What I am trying to express in graph 1.:

  • When observing you should be as objective as possible. Don’t evaluate yet and especially the vision has nothing to do with observation.
  • You have a vision: try to define what it is.
  • Evaluate the observations in relation to what you want – your vision.
  • 1st iteration: The evaluation will affect your vision (what is possible).
  • Design (apply Permaculture principles and design).
  • 2nd iteration: Evaluate your design and tweak if necessary and repeat iteration (credit to Dominik Jais Obr3dim).
  • After 3 evaluation cycles, plan and implement the design.
  • 3rd iteration: While planning and implementing observe, evaluate and design/tweak if necessary. Be sure to evaluate the tweaks before implementing (maybe you did get it right originally).
  • 4th iteration: While maintaining observe, evaluate and design/tweak if necessary. Be sure to evaluate the tweaks before implementing (maybe you did get it right originally).

I think this model that includes several iteration cycles reflects better how the design process actually is realised in a big, long term and complex land based project like Iso-orvokkiniitty. It also allows for the fact that the design I am doing now has started several iteration cycles earlier even though those have not been properly documented. It would be artificial to say that the starting point of the design process is Iso-orvokkiniitty in 2014 (when we bought the site and nothing had been done) when actually today the site looks quite different. Likewise it would be artificial to say that the starting point is now, which would imply that what has been done so far wasn’t based on our permaculture design. Let’s see how we can manage that.


8.8.2020:

Today we had the first Diploma Guild at Iso-orvokkiniitty with Dominik Jais and Marja. Each introduced some part of their ongoing Diploma work. I started by presenting the work I had done until now (until writing the Sectors and Zones article). Dominik presented the Permacafè method that he has developed combining Worldcafé and Permaculture design principles. Marja presented on the other hand her 00-zone ”tree of life” and also a permaculture garden design she had recently made for a customer in Fiskars which is now being implemented by the customer.

Overall it was very interesting to see the quite different approaches of each and to have a discussion about the design processes. So far Dominik had much more experience in the different processes and also he had already submitted some designs to his tutor and had also received feedback. 

For my part the most interesting part of our discussions was about design loops, tweaks and iterations. In our case we have started our permaculture design at Iso-orvokkiniitty in 2014-15 but it hasn’t been formally finalised while we have already been implementing it. The first year we were here largely observing but then we started acting/implementing and then observing the results of our actions. So we have done already several design loops, implemented and observed and tweaked and sometimes completely changing the design. Sometimes designing helps you realise that something is not doable at least for the time being. 

Some other scattered remarks from our discussions: 

  • Zones are time based (Geoff Lawton)
  • Evaluation => SWOC
  • Social zones
  • VOBREDIM – V = vision 
  • Future of the project – how will it run for the next 20-30 years (i.e. after us)? 
  • In observations don’t evaluate
  • The design principles should always be in place: what principles are you using?
  • Set a goal in the beginning based on ethics
  • Design process: read Cathrine’s designs (again) 
  • Philipp Weiss: two seasons
  • Input – output analysis
  • Create a design questionnaire for people creating permaculture design for themselves (little different from a customer questionnaire) 

31.7.2020:

Ok, it’s over half a year since my last notes in this diary so you could ask what is going on if anything… Of course everyone knows what happened in the spring of 2020 with covid19 taking in its grip the whole world. Fortunately in Finland the situation didn’t get too bad but it did get our attention. For my part my last business trip was in mid February until a small trip to Latvia in mid July. I don’t even remember when was the last time I haven’t travelled anywhere for half a year. Apart from not doing business travel we missed the ”International Forest Garden / Food Forest Symposium” that has now been rescheduled to June 2021. So hopefully we’ll go then.

So you would think there was a lot of time for the PDA. But somehow it wasn’t so. Business kept me busy – maybe because people need to eat anyway – and we started a few new building projects on our site. Already in the winter we started to build a storage house for all kind of ”stuff” (ok, there is a more detailed design), we built a dome greenhouse and we started the earth cellar we need because we want to develop self sufficiency in food and a little bit unplanned due to corona we started to build our sauna. Actually I worked quite intensively on a plan for a ”climate battery solar greenhouse – sauna combination à la Osentowski” in the winter but I concluded the project was too big for us and if we continue to dream about it we will end up without a greenhouse coming summer and without a sauna.

On the north side of the house (left in photo) we are building our earth cellar. The black roof on the west side of the house is the new storage house. On the south-west from the house in the garden is the dome greenhouse. All projects of the winter – spring – summer 2020. Photo 31.7.2020
Building our log sauna. Photo 31.7.2020

All the time the DPA was in my mind but I couldn’t find the time and energy to proceed. Once in a while I looked at the article about the Iso-orvokkinniitty site but I couldn’t finish it. What finally helped me was some sources of inspiration and that I decided to split the article in smaller pieces. The one I published today is supposed to be a description of what the site looked like originally when we bought it and what development has happened since. In the next articles I will do a sector analysis and then plan the zones.

The sources of inspiration was the trip to Latvia and the Finnish Permaculture Association summer get-together. Those are mentioned in the ”ERKKI: COURSES, WORKSHOPS AND STUDY TRIPS RELEVANT TO PERMACULTURE” – page. Next week we will have a diploma guild meeting here at Iso-orvokkiniitty. More about that after the meeting.

The next thing to think about here in the diary is the permaculture design tools I plan to use.


12.1.2020:

This and last weekend I and Marja have discussed the Iso-orvokkiniitty permaculture design process – mainly how to get it started again and how to avoid problems we have had with collaborating on it earlier. We are in a stage where we both have worked on the design quite extensively and the design exists in bits and pieces on our computers, pieces of paper and in our minds. Over these years we have obviously implemented a lot of stuff but often there has been no real plan to fall back to or even no agreement about what the plan was. So it has not always been easy. Our problem is that we don’t really know how to work together. Instead of permaculture design we need NVC. But we also need the design because we can’t avoid doing things.

Iso-orvokkiniitty in the middle. In 2014 all that was field and forest.
The house was built in the young birch woods.

In 2019 the design work or Diploma did not progress a lot. On my side I had an extremely busy year in my business life (organic food exports) (but still managed to plant quite a few trees) and on Marja’s she was finalising her studies in landscape hortonomy and doing her apprenticeship and then in the summer she was diagnosed with a serious illness which has taken her attention most of the autumn and winter. Now we want to get back on track.

We have changed the landscape quite dramatically. On the right side of the photo our willow sewage system caused a huge mess and headache in terms of what to do with the extra soil from the excavation.

Last week we had to look at the garden design. We wanted to understand where to put a 4 meter geodesic greenhouse and the composting station in case the winter continues like this (warm and wet – no snow) and we could actually do something about putting them up. In order to do that we also had to decide where to put the solar climate-battery greenhouse sauna combination which will be a 10 x 7 meters structure. I took aerial photos with my drone, we sat down and analysed and discussed and we reached a common understanding about those elements. I was quite happy about that.

Our garden on 5th January 2020.

Yesterday we tried to get a grip on the permaculture design process. We are using Aranya’s ”Permaculture Design” book as our reference. From there we chose OBREDIMET as our framework. Maybe we should tweak it as Dominik Jais proposes to OBR3DIM.

In the meantime I have also started to design the solar climate-battery greenhouse sauna combination and for that purpose I have practised using SketchUp. Basically that started because we should change our building rights application to reflect what we are planning to do. This 10x7m construction was not in our application.

Today our discussions were not so successful. Our willow sewage system has caused a huge mess and headache in terms of what to do with the extra soil from the excavation. Now the area has been more or less formed by our excavator contractor. Trying to do what Marja wished but Marja is not happy with it. NVC needed.

Tonight I have been reading what I have done so far about my Diploma here on the blog. Doing that – reading things I have written in 2018 – I realised that I should have a diary. So here it starts – better late than never.


[Erkki’s DPA main page][The Portfolio]