October 06, 2013

Ryton To Install My Trail!

Writing about web page http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/news/news_topic.php?id=943

A few days ago I received a link from Andi about how Ryton will be undergoing renovations and this is to include "parts of the ten acre gardens will be redesigned to create a more interactive and educational experience that showcases the latest organic gardening ideas and techniques and the charity’s programmes work."


I think that means my trail's going to be going in this Winter :D So excited!


October 04, 2013

Day Fifteen: Friday 06 September

Key:

Struckthroughpoints are completed

Boldpoints are in process

To-Do List:

  • Learn colleagues
  • Draft a freestanding funding proposal
  • Draft up trail signage and position
  • Write up internal document of progress and further action

Diary:

The last and final day today. I’m rather sad to be leaving. It feels as though I’ve been at Ryton a lot longer than just a measly three working weeks… yet the time has flown by very quickly. Such a strange paradoxical feeling. I’m sure I’m not alone in this as well when one’s enjoyed an activity. Truly goes to show how time is a very relative thing; in the immortal words of The Doctor “wibbly wobbly timey wimey”. It is a pity that the last few days, including today, have been rather dull and difficult to write about because it has been general admin paperwork and deliberately vague on details. I’ll make an apology to the reader now that – there are some days that just nothing really happened that worth detailing and only mention in passing.

I am also rather annoyed at myself, although little fault of my own, that I wasn’t able to redraft the freestanding funding application as per Roger’s request. I was told that I shouldn’t spend my free time post-internship to do this, as I had done what was asked of me and there is no need to do so in terms of having a document that reads better – as it is a still useable format.

I finished the internal document, which totalled 50 pages all told. I stayed until 7pm to do this as this was the priority of my time at Ryton and without it further work couldn’t continue. It was strange to be the last to leave the office; I hope in my future career this doesn’t become a common feeling!

I also had a debrief with Colette, where she followed the standard final interview given to outgoing long-term employees to review how I felt of my performance in terms of our initial aims and goals, and receive feedback on my work. The most notable piece of advice I received, which I’ve been long aware of, is that my 80% effort is everyone else’s 110% - in other words I should be able to scale back my effort so I don’t burn out in the long term; I have been long aware of this fact and it is conscious effort on my part to push myself a little bit more than necessary when it comes to temporary placements and work experience. As it shows, it gains me the recognition that I do feel I deserve. Among other comments was also the fact that I had made a very good name for myself on the workplace grapevine. The final comment made by Colette was that she was happy to write a review and future reference for me to give to any future employer. Of this I am very grateful and I do feel – and know for certain – that my efforts and work is hugely appreciated by all those at Ryton.


Day Fourteen: Thursday 05 September

Key:

Struckthroughpoints are completed

Boldpoints are in process

To-Do List:

  • Learn colleagues
  • Draft a freestanding funding proposal
  • Draft up trail signage and position
  • Write up internal document of progress and further action

Diary:

Today was rather monotonous in terms of being in front of the computer all day. There was a break for a general meeting that Colette arrange, that I was invited to however, so that I could get a feel of how casual interdepartmental meetings were.

The meeting was to discuss the progress made in the various departments (gardening, funding and education) and feedback received from educational visits from schools was discussed with these heads of departments as whether or not it was worth changing anything and how to best implement these changes. I made a small presentation on what my progress was on the new trail and I gave a few printouts and drafts of what I had done thus far. The response was very positive and the representatives were complimentary to my progress made over the past three weeks.

As for my computer work, I had finished off the chapters on placement and detail of both the boards and signage, including pictures to accompany them. I started a large appendix with the draft design of the directional signage, which included 15 different signs with factoids on the organic gardening animals. I made a start on the last chapter of “following steps” that my successor would use to pick up where I left off.


October 03, 2013

Day Thirteen: Wednesday 04 August


Key:

Struckthroughpoints are completed

Boldpoints are in process

To-Do List:

  • Learn colleagues
  • Draft a freestanding funding proposal
  • Draft up trail signage and position
  • Write up internal document of progress and further action

Diary:

21st Birthday! :D My Mum came to visit me at work and took me out for lunch. It was lovely to see her after a few weeks away from home during the holidays. She also brought me a few small gifts which I plan to open tomorrow as I was busy this evening. Also last night I baked some brownies for the workplace as I found out that it’s very acceptable to bring in nice things to share over coffee breaks! They went down a treat!

21 Birthday

Today I walked the trail a final time for time and ensuring the signage would be in the correct place. I started to take pictures of where I wanted the signs to go so the next intern who took over this project would know exactly where I thought best for them.

sign ppot

I also had a meeting with Roger, head of Funding, and his thoughts of my freestanding funding application. He has this vision of completely changing the format of them; as they stand they are very similar to school essays and reports (introduction, background and conclusion etc) in that they are very standardised, sterile and exact in formulation. He has suggested to me that – should I have the time – rewrite to make it “human friendly” with why the funding is important to the funding body first, how their money will make a difference in terms of the funding body’s aims/vision then detail what the project is about and what it will entail and why Garden Organic is best placed to deliver these objectives. I foresaw that I wouldn’t have the time to do this but promised I would try to do so before Friday.

My internal document has grown hugely and it now in the region of thirty pages thus far with my work. I hoping it’s under 60 pages by the time I’m finished!

My day concluded with a lovely vegetarian curry at Andi’s house and many hours around a fire pit outside chatting – a great birthday!



October 02, 2013

Day Twelve: Tuesday 03 September

Key:

Struckthroughpoints are completed

Boldpoints are in process

To-Do List:

  • Learn colleagues

· Walk trail for time, logic and ease

  • Draft a freestanding funding proposal
  • Draft up trail signage and position
  • Write up internal document of progress and further action

Diary:

Carrying on from my work yesterday, I deduced what gardens showed what aspects best, what aspects to focus the trail on and therefore the best route.

final trail route

I then spent the rest of the morning thinking out on paper where to put trail signage and information boards around the garden. From this I took a final walk around the garden to make sure that they would be good places (looking at any overhanging trees, bushes that could grow and obscure the signs etc.) From this I was able to easily determine the number of new signs of both that I would need and began to draft up the wording both. I only managed to get as far as to what message should be conveyed on the signs with a few suggested titles. This aspect took longer than anticipated and I found I would overestimate what would be suitable to put on the sign so moved over to what could be moved over the webpage that accompanied the sign and what was the bear minimum to put on the sign. I was concerned for both confusing visitors and perhaps putting of same due to details and specifics for gardening organically.

information board

I was also requested by Colette to perhaps start an internal document to record the progress I had made thus far on the project that would be used by the next intern to continue my work and finish the installation of the trail. I thus used this document to start designing the trail direction signs, which would feature a factoid of an animal and either a photograph or sketch of this animal. Each animal is noted to playing an important part of organic gardening.

signpost


Day Eleven: Monday 02 September

Key:

Struckthroughpoints are completed

Boldpoints are in process

To-Do List:

  • Learn colleagues

· Type up findings on what gardens best show what organic gardening guidelines

  • Walk trail for time, logic and ease
  • Draft a freestanding funding proposal

Diary:

To continue making an effort to finalise what gardens would be used on the trial, I toyed with the idea of using the Organic Gardening Guidelines booklet’s as progressing through the garden; first looking at soil health and maintenance before then moving onto plant raising and garden health. In theory this would work well, as the first few gardens out of the education centre are soil health, but it would mean that a garden that showed a later aspect better wouldn’t be used for such, in order to have the trail circular and not backing up on itself.

garden aspects

Instead I took a walk through the gardens and marked up my spreadsheet from week one, having decided to use this as means of seeing what gardens were best to use for what then work the other way around this problem. I also use the opportunity to play around with a few trail route variations and where I could put directional signs down.

final excel asspects

I also heard back from Colette and began to redraft the freestanding proposal; there were very few areas to improve, as it was relatively straightforward to write. Andi also came around and announced that Wednesday looked like the best day for dinner; which would work amazingly way since this Wednesday is my 21st birthday!

Judith also invited me to follow her around the Allotment garden and pick up some produce to cook up for dinner; in the end I settled on a yellow courgette, two types of basil, tomatoes and different beans. The cunning plan was to do a vegetable bake.


Day Ten: Friday 23 August

Key:

Struckthroughpoints are completed

Boldpoints are in process

To-Do List:

  • Brainstorm the Garden Organic “Organic Gardening” vision and education
  • Learn colleagues
  • Brainsorm Garden Organic’s education
  • Type up findings on what gardens best show what organic gardening guidelines
  • Walk trail for time, logic and ease
  • Draft a freestanding funding proposal

Diary:

Today I worked from home, as Colette was once again out of the office. I read up more thoroughly the gardening guidelines and applied this to my increased knowledge of the gardens to beginning finalising what gardens would feature in the trail. I also used my notes from yesterday, the Head Gardener’s tour, to complement this work. Since Colette was out of the office, it wasn’t a priority for redrafting the freestanding proposal since I hadn’t received feedback for it.

I also took the time out to do a few more brainstorms to cement my knowledge I had gained thus far and identify gaps which I needed to fill in order to complete the trail. I took the Garden Organic site’s vision and stormed the contents to ensure that I approached the wording of the trail media correctly and in line with the site’s overall aims. I ensured that I would include media that would interest both beginner and amateur gardeners – pitching information about organic gardening as initially simplified and linking, via QR codes, to more in-depth information - as well as ensuring here would aspects that children could get involved with. This I decided would take form of a mascot of descriptions that they could spot around the gardens, showing the trail’s direction. It would also be made colourful to ensure it was visible. The two existing permanent trails are green and yellow respectively, so I chose to make my trial either blue or purple.

My second brainstorm was to look at what education means Ryton uses to communicate and engage with the public. These included kinetic displays (model seeds, button activated displays), auditory (via telephone headsets on displays) and visual (large and colourful pictures, catching titles and summary sentence before the main body of text). I decided that I ought to appeal to these three distinctive learning styles, as much as feasible. Given I would struggle to get audio tours out in garden, the video would definitely have an audio commentary. The rest of the signage and information boards would be made in the same styles as those that already existed in the garden and use the format of: title, summary, main body text, to convey information.


October 01, 2013

Day Nine: Thursday 29 August

Key:

Struckthroughpoints are completed

Boldpoints are in process

To-Do List:

  • Brainstorm the Garden Organic “Organic Gardening” vision and education
  • Learn colleagues
  • Brainsorm Garden Organic’s education
  • Map mobile phone signal around site
  • Type up findings on what gardens best show what organic gardening guidelines
  • Map Mobile phone coverage
  • Walked trail for time, logic and ease
  • Draft a freestanding funding proposal
  • Finish Head Gardener’s Tour of Garden
  • Type up notes made of Head Gardener’s tour

Diary:

This morning up until 2pm, Andi and I toured the other half of the gardens and sampled a lot of the fruit on the way around. Despite the previous Head Gardener’s qualms about visitors not sampling fruit and keeping birds out of the Soft Fruit garden, Andi found that encouraging both habits actually increased the yield significantly! It just goes to show just how much working with nature actually helps so much more than trying to cultivate a sterile and artificial environment.

Whilst working my way around I kept a note of how my mobile phone signal was; given I’m on a large provider it is likely other large providers will have a similar range around the gardens. Over afternoon tea I discussed other colleges their signal and found that Vodafone, O2, EE, Giff Gaff and Orange offer good signal around the core of the site. Some areas have questionable signal but these are less frequented and not where I planned to take the trail in the first place. So long so good!

Whilst visiting the final gardens of the tour, we met the Thursday group of adults that worked in the Therapy Garden (used for those with physical limitations, or lifelong disabilities). Among them was Tracy who used Sign Supported English when she spoke to me with what she was doing in the garden this week; this was a personal delight for me as I could use my BSL knowledge to compliment my side of the conversation. It was great to be able to communicate in a way that she preferred and I spent the rest of the afternoon on a high because of it. This made typing up my very copious and detailed notes from Andi’s tour bearable and I started to think properly about my suggested trail and how to modify it light of the signal coverage (necessary for the QR codes to work) and Andi’s comments.

There are also another two interns, both from Germany, on a six week placement. They are studying Architecture and as part of their course they have to take a summer out to do some work experience. So they have taken a small camper van over to the UK and are camping in some of the land that isn’t open to the public. Andi has invited both myself and them for dinner one evening, probably next week, since Andi lives just up the road from Ryton. Colette says that Andi’s cooking is brilliant; I can’t wait!


Day Eight: Wednesday 28 August

Key:

Struckthroughpoints are completed

Boldpoints are in process

To-Do List:

  • Brainstorm the Garden Organic “Organic Gardening” vision and education
  • Learn colleagues
  • Brainsorm Garden Organic’s education
  • Map mobile phone signal around site
  • Type up findings on what gardens best show what organic gardening guidelines
  • Map Mobile phone coverage
  • Walked trail for time, logic and ease
  • Draft a freestanding funding proposal
  • Learn about the gardens and the gardeners responsible for them
  • Get experience in organic gardening practices

Diary:

Instead of my usual smart-causal, I turned up in old trousers and top prepared for hot sunny manual work in the morning. I spend the morning and lunchtime, up at until 2pm, in the Rose Garden with Lou, another gardener. The Roses have been suffering Black Spot Fungus for a number of years and Ryton are trying various organic methods of control, in the form of sprays and soil treatment, as well as the standard accepted measure of removing diseased leaves; this reduces the chance of the fungus spreading to other plants, should the leaves be left in the flower bed, and consequently the leaves can’t be put into the compost heap and are instead burnt. As consequence of this process of removing leaves – most of which are rather small – a lot of soil is lost from the flowerbeds. Lou said that she will top it up with leaf mould and compost. The other activities that needed to be done in the garden was weeding and cutting back plants that had grown amok during the hot summer months. By the end of the morning, I was very scratched from all the rose thorns and my arms weary from the raking, but I felt very content having cleared all the flowerbeds.

black spot fungus

In the afternoon, I had the eagerly awaited Master Gardener’s tour with Andi (which visitors often have to pay a considerable sum for!) and she gave me her view of what organic gardening means in practice whilst pointing out all manner of fascinating things in the garden. She is very proud of what she’s done in the garden but over the years has not been able to work as much in the gardens herself, but always makes sure she does something here and there when she can; she spends a lot of the time organising events and representing the gardeners on site at said events. Given the depth that Andi chatted we only made it half way around the gardens before having to call it a day to go home. She is interested in the trail as I could incorporate an element of Head Gardener’s tour in it.


Day Seven: Tuesday 27 August

Key:

Struckthroughpoints are completed

Boldpoints are in process

To-Do List:

  • Brainstorm the Garden Organic “Organic Gardening” vision and education
  • Learn colleagues
  • Brainsorm Garden Organic’s education
  • Map mobile phone signal around site
  • Type up findings on what gardens best show what organic gardening guidelines
  • Map Mobile phone coverage
  • Walked trail for time, logic and ease
  • Draft a freestanding funding proposal

Diary:

I kept in email correspondence with Alex regarding the video quotes today. He confirmed that subtitles can be added to the video at no extra cost because they will count as part of the editing phase of production.

My main focus was to produce a freestanding proposal for funding, should the PPT application not bear fruit. I completed this within a few hours, using a recent application as guidance on layout, length and content. I sent it off for reivew to Colette and felt very proud for having a promt turn around for work.

The morning coffee break I took off to meet more colleges was very successful. Firstly I networked with Vicki to get a tour with Andi Strachan, the Head Gardener at Garden Organic, tomorrow! I also chatted with Helen Lockwood, a gardener, to get some work in the gardens with the volunteers. This was so I could better acquaint myself with the gardens and learn first-hand how organic gardening works. Whilst I was in the Gardening Office, Judith Conroy (another gardener) offered to give me a quick tour at 4:30pm when they finished work. It was her turn to put out the rabbit proof gates and locks on the gardens for the night. She explained that each Gardener on site is assigned several gardens to maintain and look after; Judith is currently responsible for the Allotment, Paradise, Bee, and Woodland gardens. This fosters a sense of pride and ownership and the gardens are maintained to a very high standard as consequence.

I also had a meeting with Colette to discuss the next steps of my time at Ryton and review what progress I had made thus far. She made q suggestion that at the end of my three weeks – as I won’t be able to see the project through to its instalment – I leave an internal document to detail what progress I had made and what steps had to be taken further.


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