Mollie's balcony

Through using the design process S.A.D.I.M.E.T, I designed my friends balcony into a functional space to grow food and relax. I chose this as my design for the PDC course at The Grange. We are currently at the implementation stage, where all resources have been collected, seedlings have been planted, there is the woodwork to do now. I decided to get some helping hands involved and use the opportunity to fulfil Mollie's want to learn some woodworking skills. I believe I managed to meet Mollie's needs from the balcony as well as save space and utilise opportunities, thanks to using a Permaculture design process.

I used the design process S.A.D.I.M.E.T to design my friends balcony. The space was empty in the way of plants and animals and it had a lot of opportunity, I immediately noticed the south facing wall and frosted glass railings that could create a greenhouse effect. I began by surveying the space and what Mollie wanted from it by undergoing a client interview and then drawing up the info into a mind map so it was easier to process. I also asked Mollie to go through all the observations she'd been taking over the last year about the sectors on the balcony, I measured the balcony and then drew up a base map and sectors. 
I moved on to analysing the information I had so far. Mollie is a single Mum and wants the space to teach her child where his food comes from. She has a very small budget so I needed to design structures out of free materials. I proceeded onto using a S.W.O.C analysis, in this I outlined our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. Since doing this we have been able to address a weakness, being that neither of us have much gardening experience, our solution has been to join the community garden and go to learn and meet like minded people. 
I had an opportunity to cut costs by collecting some free pallets from a friend, realising that Mollie had wanted to learn some woodworking skills, so she herself could make furniture out of pallets, I had a few ideas floating around about some structures that would require some woodworking skills on the balcony. Then came the opportunity to ask for the help of a close relative who was a furniture maker. I knew they had been suffering from loneliness, I wanted a reason to reach out so gently asked if this would be of interest to them because their skills could be of real value, they were really keen to help and I was happy that this opportunity may give them a sense of purpose, of course there will be no pressure put on them in anyway, the woodwork part of the design will get done at their pace as the crops can sit in pots until the final structures are finished. Furthermore, we plan to finish the job so as not to overwhelm them and just learn the necessary bits to crack on if they don't feel they can. In return, they would be catered for when working on the project, be given some of the yield from the balcony in the future and I will design there small garden as one of my ten Permaculture diploma designs.
The design part of the process began. Knowing all the functions wanted from the balcony, all the sectors and the great opportunity to learn new skills, I began drawing up bubble sketches on scraps of paper when we were relaxing round Mollie's house. By doing this I was lucky to be able to ensure that I was definitely giving the client want they wanted by being able to check in and discuss so often as friends. The south facing wall and frosted glass railings had to be made the most of. I was researching and stumbled across Sepp Holzer's one pot design for a balcony. I adapted the idea to fit Mollie's wants and added a simple rain water catchment off the side of the bed and nick named it the one bed wonder. This design made the most out of the south facing wall. I thought we could have a go at reflecting some sunlight onto the north facing wall of the balcony by covering the south facing wall in foil to bounce some light over..will see how that goes. I utilised the frosted glass railings by growing up side down tomatoes behind them along with a bed in the top of each troff to plant companions and beneficial insect attractors. On the north facing wall we decided to grow honeysuckle as Mollie loves the scent, however this will be a trial experiment as we know it's slightly shade tolerant but maybe the foil will make enough difference, we have the evaluation and tweak stages for that. As well as this there is a wormery, a storage bench seat and shelves with a salad bed in the top and propagation space/somewhere to harden seedlings. The overhanging roof is going to hang a roll up perspex curtain that transforms the whole balcony into a greenhouse. In the shadey low down corner there is a good opportunity for growing mushrooms too. I made a functions and elements graph with how permaculture principles are met within those functions.
PDF icon functions_elements_etc.pdf69.14 KB
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