Our ‘poster’ will be a fruit tree guild in a pot that will demonstrate the idea of companion planting and the layers used in designing permaculture gardens. The exhibit will act as a gateway to our research, and we’re hopeful that we’ll have some interactive aspects available too by then – maybe one of the GROW Observatory’s soil sensors and some audio-visual-haptic experience.
Our research concerns blending permaculture and user-experience, and the pot-garden is a prototype of our larger work at Edinburgh Napier’s Merchiston campus where we’re developing a full garden space along these lines.
The GROW Observatory is “a citizens’ observatory for growers, researchers and decision makers.” and I’m attending a SICSA workshop they’re running on March 2nd around grassroots smart cities, which includes speakers from GROW and Making Sense (a related EU citizen sensing project).
We’re also hoping to be a part of the GROW Observatory’s pilot campaign. More details to follow…..
The Lions Gate Garden project with its associated kitchen garden off-shoot continues to progress and pull in stakeholders and interested parties.
A meeting has been scheduled for 9th March involving Properties & Facilities, Information Systems/Library and the School of Computing to move the project further along. The idea is to embed our project within the grander plans for Merchiston, along the Creative Campus theme.
We’re also hoping to work closely with the design department on lighting and haptic interactions, and on the design of specific garden elements, such as pots, markers, touch-points, bird-boxes etc.
Our ideas are gaining traction. That is, to provide spaces for students and staff to unwind, learn, experiment, entertain, play and perform, within a permaculture garden setting that has novel, engaging, fun, thought-provoking, digitally triggered experiences to hand, if you so wish to engage with them.
Key to the success of the project is an outward-facing approach. We’re keen to make the edges of the project, transitional zones where university meets public, and to foster close-working relationships with local communities, businesses, charities and individuals.
I’ve been spending necessary time within the two campus spaces to get a feel for their particular environments and to allow the creative juices to flow. Drawings, photographs and notes are accumulating at a fair pace now, and along with the extensive reading I’ve been doing on permaculture, garden design and sustainable HCI (I’m building a library wall at home to accommodate all the texts), and the 15 years of expertise I have in user-experience practice (and even longer association with media production) – new ideas are beginning to emerge from the ether. Exciting times ahead.
We have two third year group projects on the go. One project is looking at audio interactions in a permaculture garden setting, using solar-powered BLE sensors, particularly focusing on energy requirements and the quality/nuances of transitions between beacons. The other group are looking at video interactions in garden spaces, triggered by wood-crafted anchors, for example designed QR/AR codes.
Much has been happening on the permaculture/user experience project since the start of the year.
In early January Billie O’Neill and myself met with Holly Benyon and Amanda Palmer to discuss how Napier and Changeworks could collaborate on projects. Holly provided us with information on grey-water harvesting technology and Bille and Amanda discussed ways that Changeworks could help Estates with waste management. We then proceeded to have a walk-about the Lions Gate Garden and the proposed area for a kitchen garden.
It was agreed that once our Merchiston Garden projects are up-and-running then co-operation between the two organisations could likely take the form of community education. The gardens could be utilized as spaces for community groups/businesses/individuals to engage with the university and Changeworks could provide expertise in this area, in terms of workshops and learning materials.
After over 10 years on the waiting list I received the key for my allotment on Ferry Road last week. It’s a half-plot – a five by fifteen metres strip, rented from the council for £54.50 per year.
Many thanks go to Ian Woolard at Edinburgh Council for his enthusiasm and help in finalising the tenancy.
Also, huge thanks to the previous tenant Nancy Dryburgh for; leaving the plot in fine condition; the kind and encouraging hand-over letter; and the books – especially the ‘Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening’ left for me in the greenhouse.
Looking forward to permaculturising the space, growing northern-hardy foodstuffs for the family table, and experimenting in weird and wonderful ways.
We also have a resident fox – which my nephew has called Miller.
Congratulations to Chris and Andy at the Permaculture Association for their enormous contribution and to everyone around the globe who is a part of this exciting future – what a great Christmas present!
Looking forward to working as user-experience designer via Edinburgh Napier University on this international project with colleagues from throughout the UK, Europe, the United States and Australia. In these difficult times this is a real success.