Design Process Diagra

Eco-farming Design Process

During my one year volunteer assignment at the Farmer Field School in Northern-Central Vietnam, I was lucky enough to collaborate with a wonderful team of volunteers in the improvement of the Eco-farming Design Process. After the adjustments were made I was responsible to bring the ideas together into a symbol that clearly represents the process for the students and staff at the project.

Later, I was to developed this symbol into the Farmer Field School identity.


The Eco-farming Design Process was developed as a tool to help Farmer Field School students design in a systematic way. The steps were identified as key stages necessary for successful Eco-farming design in the context of working with minority groups of the Mekong region. These steps included:  1.Observation – 2.Principles – 3.Connection – 4.Local knowledge – 5.Design – 6.Practice – 7.Feedback

As in all Eco-farming systems, the Design Process is in a continuous state of evolution and progression as we develop new insights and ideas based on our observations and lessons learned.


The latest version of the Design Process (shown here) aims to simplify the process for both students to understand and use, and for teachers to facilitate. Although at first it appears different, the process is essentially the same with some structural adjustments, presented in a way that emphasises the cyclical nature and ‘core values’ of Eco-farming design and action research, and seeks to be understandable to people from any background, not just limited to the Mekong region.

Refined Steps

The refined steps include: 1.Observe & Research – 2.Brainstorm & Connect – 3.Design – 4.Practice – 5.Reflect & Share. The cyclical nature of the Design Process
resembles an action research cycle. On completion of the ‘reflect and share’ step we begin the process again with new insights.

Core Values

At the heart are the core values that should be addressed during every step of the Design Process. They are placed in the centre of the cycle where they overlap with each other and guide us through the surrounding steps.

Belief & ethics

Based in spirituality, beliefs are the source of inspiration and respect for nature and humanity in traditional cultures. In modern culture this comes in the form of ethics – a summary of commonsense social decisions and intellectual understanding of why we need this respect.

Pattern & principles

Eco-farming principles are derived from the observation of patterns in nature. These principles guide us to follow and nurture nature in our designs.


Knowledge is a collection of understanding
derived from a person’s background, life
experience and tradition.

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