About the certification as a ScotLAND Center:


News from September 2020:


Permaculture ScotLAND Demonstration Centre
Permaculture ScotLAND Demonstration Centre

We are proud of this achievement:

Rubha Phoil is recognized as a Permaculture ScotLAND Demonstration Centre.

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.

On 31 September 2020, the Rubha Phoil Permaculture project, under guidance of Ludwig Appeltans has been officially recognized as a Permaculture ScotLAND demonstration Centre by Graham Bell. This means that we are recognized as an excellent demonstration of permaculture in action. Along with our skill in applying permaculture, we have demonstrated our ability to explain our use of permaculture ethics and principles to visitors and volunteers and offer opportunities for learning. You can read more about permaculture ScotLAND Centres here.
The previous owner of Rubha Phoil in 2013 had already applied for Rubha Phoil to become a Centre, but was accepted as a ScotLAND Learner Center instead. (A ScotLAND Learner centre is a centre that is learning how to become a demonstration Centre.) It took 7 years of hard work and the help of a lot of people to get there, but we made it! We are now finally really able to say that Rubha Phoil is a Permaculture Project where you can see real permaculture in action!

Why is this important?

Like the label “Organic”, “Permaculture” is a registered trademark. Like organic, permaculture people have to adhere to a set of strict guidelines for their project or land to be allowed to be labelled permaculture. In permaculture we have to have successfully completed a PDC (permaculture design course) and adhere to the 3 permaculture ethics of People Care, Earth Care and Fair Shares before we are allowed to use the word permaculture as a label for our work.

But unlike with Organic, this is not enforced. If you call something organic and it isn’t you can get into legal trouble. With Permaculture, not so much. The ownership of the trademark lies with the founder of Permaculture: Bill Mollison (or more specifically with the people that inherited his estate when Bill became a legend and entered the afterlife.) Bill never seemed in favor of such a regulatory body to take action to enforce the correct use of the word. Which in any case is not really a difficult problem to solve: you create a badge of honor instead. Rather than spending energy on stopping a negative, promote a positive instead: ScotLAND CENTRES!

Everyone with a badge of honor called “Permaculture ScotLAND Demonstration CENTRE” has been peer reviewed and has been found worthy 🙂

Thanks Graham and Ed!

Regardless of that discussion, it still leaves us, permaculturists, with the task to explain this message to the world. If you’d ask the average person, the terms permaculture brings up images like: harmony with nature, calm, health and well being, trees, hippie, birdsong, cups of tea, respect, mud, kindness, equality, peace, community, harmony, collaboration, food & nature etc…

Sadly, as the trademark is not enforced, anyone can use the word to try to greenwash their crimes, The label “Permaculture” is also an ideal undergrowth for people to hide and take advantage off. It is too easy to hide land abuse and people abuse practices under a green washed label of permaculture.

trump tower is not permaculture
Putting the label “PERMACULTURE” in bold letters on something doesn’t make it permaculture.

What does make it permaculture, is the way the permaculture ethics are adhered too.

These are the three simple key ethical principles. Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. These ethics are found in many traditional societies which have existed in relative balance with their environment for much longer than more recent civilizations.

Earth Care asks us to preserve the soil, keep the air and water clean, protect and enhance biodiversity, and conserve energy and natural resources.

People Care is about health and well-being, nourishment with good food, lifelong learning, trust, respect and meaningful work, mental and spiritual well-being, a healthy abundance of connections.

Fair Share emphasizes equitable distribution of resources, networking and cooperation, reduction of consumerism, and rethinking notions of growth, progress and development. In the present and in the past. Honoring people that came before us, leaving a nice planet behind for the ones that come after us.

We can call it permaculture if we work towards helping at least one of the ethics and not negatively influence any of the 3. So it is part of the solution towards a permanent culture.

Remember, putting the label “permaculture” on something doesn’t make it permaculture.
Instead, ask yourself these questions:
– Do they look after the Earth?
– Are they kind to People?
– Do they Share the surplus?

Here is a list that can help you check – Are they peer reviewed?:
Are they a member of the Permaculture Association of Britain or other organizations affiliated with the PAB?
– Have they Successfully completed a Permaculture Design Course recognized by the Permaculture Association Britain?
– What are the reviews saying about them?
– Do they have a Diploma recognized by the Permaculture Association Britain?
– Are they are a registered Teacher with the Permaculture assocation of Britain?
– Do they run a ScotLand demonstration Centre?

Here are the answers for the example of the Rubha Phoil Community and Virtual Village:
Ludwig is a member of PAB, has
completed his PDC with Patrick Whitefield in 2009. Ludwig’s reviews are here. Ludwig is a registered teacher allowed to certify permaculturists. He has taught 9 PDC’s already, has certified more than 60 students and taught many other courses. Ludwig doesn’t have his diploma, yet. He registered for the process to obtain it, but this is not a high priority for him as he doesn’t need it to be able to teach and write certificates due to his extensive experience in teaching before this rule came into being. (The diploma was created to give fresh recruits a clear pathway to gain a recognizable amount of experience in permaculture design before they were allowed to certify the next generation of permaculturists. Ludwig already was allowed to certify due to having enough prior experience. ) His diploma project is be the permaculture design of Rubha Phoil.

Now Rubha Phoil is a ScotLAND Permaculture Demonstration site too!


Permaculture ScotLAND Demonstration Centre
Permaculture ScotLAND Demonstration Centre

Check your sources before you believe labels! In these trumpian times now more than ever. And I hope that you have discovered that maybe you are already doing things that you can call permaculture. Join our Virtual Village if you want to learn more.

Certificate ScotLAND demonstration Centre
Certificate ScotLAND demonstration Centre


About the withdrawal from ScotLAND Centre:

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.

Ludwig Appeltans