Brook Farm Animal Sanctuary
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As the surveying period was extremely intense in terms of time, I had to ensure that I was both systematic in recording my own observations, but also effective in accessing the long term observations of the site from the residents.
In terms of the site survey, my process involved:
– I spent time in each area, recording my observations systematically on pre-drawn to scale-maps
– Taking abundant photographs which I could then refer back to in the evenings and from home if I was to offer post-design support
– Researching information to support the design process, which included:
– Climate data
– Local history
– Soil data from the Soilscapes viewer by Cranfield University
– Contour data from the OS mapping services
– Native plants through the postcode plant database
– Flood maps from the Environment Agency
As I was undertaking the design in such a short time period, listening and accessing the observations and ideas of the long term residents was extremely essential. On the first evening of my three day stay I undertook a full design questionnaire with Clive and Rosie, as well as other residents the following day.
Read my design questionnaire notes here (please note this is the public friendly version).
With such limited time, it was clear that I needed some permaculture design tools that were fast and effective in supporting me to process the huge volumes of information I had gathered in day one of the design.
My first analysis tool was identifying the functions, systems and elements involved in the design.
The key functions I had identified included:
*To know where to plant the donated trees
*To support the resolution of drainage challenges
*To support with decision making for the overall layout & any improvements
*To generate energy for the sanctuary
*To reduce expenditure
*To create highest quality environment for the rescued animals
*To educate about veganism
*To create a fun & safe environment for Sophie to grow up in
*To optimise a sustainable lifestyle for everyone involved
*To support both wild & domestic animals
There were clearly a wide variety of systems in place to support these functions, as well as an abundance of diverse elements, from all the individual animals, to the volunteers to the materials used on site. It was going to be a design challenge!
My second main analysis tool was identifying the main spirals of erosion so that a design could ‘plug them’. Key spirals of erosion I identified were soil erosion & water damage, moving muck every spring, drainage of muck, plus the needs of certain animals, most particularly horses, that were a huge financial cost for the sanctuary.
I also had to do a fast and effective zone and sector analysis to aid me in my eventual placement decisions.
My zoning analysis generated:
– That the most intensive animals need to be placed closest to the house and zoned out from there in intensity
– Elements need to be placed closest to other elements they have a relationship with, for example hay to the muck pile, fresh hay to the stables. I could see very clearly the relationships around the sanctuary having scrutinised the pathways, work tasks and patterns undertaken by residents and volunteers.
My analysis of sectors generated:
– The surface run off, rainfall and water movements
– The wind patterns and need for windbreaks in certain areas due to the current exposure of animals
– How people, animal and machinery traffic moved through the site
– Areas of particular warmth and areas of shade
‘Needs & Yields’/Inputs-Outputs Analysis
As a vegan designing for a vegan sanctuary I certainly wasn’t going to follow the permaculture textbooks and identify which parts of the living, feeling, individual animals would provide ‘yields’ for humans. However I did find identifying the ecological yields of animals as well as their individual yields extremely useful.
This was an empowering task, enabling me to process the notes from my learning experiences that had involved violent, re-stimulating and disturbing practices in ‘relating’ to animals and use them as real tools for regeneration – for the continuation of life, not the ending of it.
Applying the permaculture principles
One of the analysis tasks I did take the time to do, was to use the 12 permaculture principles as a way to keep myself ‘in check’ and consciously applying them. See below:
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Following a very late night, I slowly pulled together all the strands in the design web – my observations from the site and residents (human and nonhuman), my research and ideas generated through the analysis process and what emerged was the design detailed below:
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I wanted to communicate my ideas simply in a way that was accessible and not overwhelming to people knew to permaculture. Instead of spending hours on a drawing, I used a simple overlay in photoshop onto a google earth picture to demonstrate my thinking.
The text around the image illustrations some of my key design decisions.
In terms of the design report I also supplied information on:
– Tree & hedgerow planting
– Rainwater harvesting
– Pasture management & fodder species
– Energy including anaerobic digestion options
– Dog waste composting
– Pond design
– Fruit trees
– Alternative edible leaves
– Species lists
The first stage of implementation has been the tree planting which was the initial trigger for the design work. This was undertaken in early March . The remainder of the other areas will be implemented slowly over time, especially where seasonally determined. I intend to support with the implementation of the design over the long term.
You can read my design evaluation in my design cover sheet.
In terms of client feedback I received this text not long after my stay at Brook Farm Animal Sanctuary:
“Just wanted to say thanks very much for your wonderful ideas. We will put them into practice. Sophie misses you and keeps asking for you. ”
Click here to view the resources used in developing this design. This will open as a google document.