Welcome to the website of Rubha Phoil.
We are a young nature-based permanent culture project on the Isle of Skye.
Rubha Phoil is an ancient, very special rock in the south of the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
The rock we live on is a billion years old, older than life. It is some of the oldest rock on our planet, sitting on top of a layer of Lewisian Gneiss, the first rock that solidified when the earth was still a ball of lava. Our rock has made an interesting journey over those billion years. In the early as well as the recent times.
We are documenting what we know about that journey HERE.
If you want to help us to discover, document and present more about the history, join us HERE.
The Rock now provides a home to a permaculture project and our vision is for it to transition into a nature connected permaculture community. Follow our history time line or join our Virtual Village to hear about our achievements and struggles of that process.
In September 2020, we were really proud to have achieved the status of being a recognised ScotLAND Centre. As it gives us some recognition of the quality of work we are doing here.
We have now withdrawn from that NETWORK.
I am Ludwig Appeltans, I am the founder of Rubha Phoil. These following are my words my words alone.
I have learned that the ScotLAND network has received a £5000 grant, which was designed to support stronger, more resilient communities, in the Highlands and Islands. They have used the grant partially, to give away free memberships to the Permaculture Association of Britain and to pay to develop resources that are for the benefit for everyone in Britain and worldwide. Almost all the money goes to the British PAB accounts, and as I understood it at the time of my withdrawal, none stays in the Highlands and Islands. My request on Jan 19th to revisit and redesign the use of the grant and make sure that the money was better spend and more to a benefit for local people in the Highlands and Islands (as is required by the conditions in the grant), has been completely ignored. This has been organised by Andy Goldring, the CEO of the Permaculture Association of Britain (PAB) himself. This grant has been approved by the Grant provider, but in my view, the application was dishonest. There are some other issues that are in my view completely unethical and completely against Permaculture Ethics and Principles. They all indicate a serious need for the PAB to decolonise.
I will report these at a later stage after the content has been checked properly, as I have been warned by the CEO to be careful with my words.
If you wonder what is wrong with this:
these following 4 points will explain it:
1: When I arrived on Rubha Phoil, I immediately started working on a permaculture design. One of the first things to research and learn from is the history. Human history, natural history, geology, all of it. We can learn so much from that and we have to respect the land and the stories on it and know them before we design something new. That is Permaculture text book stuff. I have started creating a timeline of the history or Rubha Phoil and surrounding lands and people and culture.
Here in the Highlands and Islands, we are lucky to have the excellent writer Alistair McIntosh. He wrote a book called Soil and Soul. It documents the horrific history of how the Islands were treated throughout history: as a colony. Much like the rest of the colonies of the ‘Great’ British Empire. Colonised by the elite powers from down south, but also by the lowland Scots. Such as the violent incursions of 1596, 1599, 1605, 1607 and 1608. Where lowlander Scots from Fife in Lowland Scotland were granted a charter, Royal Permission From James VI to colonise the Isle of Lewis, Rona and Trotternish in Skye with law abiding Protestants.
I hope I don’t need to tell you about the Highland Clearances and the suppression of the local Gaelic Culture? Rubha Phoil is surrounded by cleared villages.
I also hope that I do not need to tell you about the ongoing crisis of gentrification and ongoing challenges for the people in the Highlands and Islands and the challenge of the Gaelic language and culture to survive.
2: The indigenous peoples have written a criticism to the Permaculture movement. Which is largely a white people movement. It could be described as a call for decolonisation of permaculture. Their full text is called Whitewashed Hope.
It includes these words:
People are land. Holistic includes History.
Regen Ag and Permaculture claim to be holistic in approach. When regenerating a landscape, ‘everything’ is considered: soil health, water cycles, local ‘wildlife’, income & profit. ‘Everything’, however, tends to EXCLUDE history: Why were Indigenous homelands steal-able and why were our peoples & lands rape-able? Why were our cultures erased? Why does our knowledge need to be validated by ‘Science’? Why are we still excluded from your ‘healing’ of our land?
In my view, it is easiest shown by the very use of the word permaculture. It used to be called permanent culture. But permaculture sounds better and is sexier. It is also very convenient as it allows us to forget that the word permanent is important. Permanent can only be permanent if history is included into the vision for the future.
3: Some people, including the CEO of the Permaculture Association of Britain (PAB), wrote and signed a response to Whitewashed Hope.
In it, are included these words:
We share your ambition to achieve a consciousness shift from the current dominant culture to one founded on reciprocity, respect, and interrelations with all beings.
We are also aware of other interested parties and groups in the United Kingdom and elsewhere whom we hope to invite to further discussions. With the aim of developing a global awareness and response to your message, we look to engage with regional, national and international permaculture and regenerative agriculture movements and bodies.
I am the only registered permaculture teacher of the PAB, who lives and works in the Highlands and Islands. I have been refused access to be part of this group of people, by the same CEO of PAB.
4: When I became aware of the plans of how to spend the £5000, I shared my feedback with the CEO on Jan 19 2021. My words have not and are not being heard.
As a consequence, I have resigned from the Permaculture Scotland Working Group (PSWG) over all these issues on Jan 27th and have tried to engage in conversation with the PAB since Feb 19th and have received no meaningful response or inclination that I will be able to have a conversation with the PAB.
Despite my resignation, on Jan 28th, the PSWG has approved the spending plans designed by the CEO, which include the issues I mention here, an others. I have asked for and organised mediation with the PSWG, but this too has been ignored.
I am still engaging with the PAB to investigate these issues deeper and to see if I can get these resolved. I will publish my findings when completed in the hope that the permaculture movement finally can reckon with the colonial past in the Highlands and Islands and incorporate that insight in their designs for the regenerative future, as they know themselves is well over due.
Until these issues are resolved, I can not feel that I can be proud of carrying the label of ScotLAND Centre. To protect my integrity, I wish to publicly distance myself, my networks and projects from the ScotLAND network.
News from September 2020:
We are really proud to announce that we are recognised as a Permaculture ScotLAND Demonstration Centre!
This means that the official body, the Permaculture Association of Britain has officially found our rock and us to be an excellent example of permaculture in action. A place where people can come, see and learn real permaculture.
The rock first got given the label “permaculture” in 1992 when the previous owner started her project. In 2013 the first application to be approved as a ScotLAND Centre was deferred. Now after 4 years of hard work by Ludwig and the more than hundred volunteers who supported the project since, we have been successful. Rubha Phoil is officially a ‘Permaculture Project’ worthy of the label ‘Permaculture’.
You can read more here.