18 day hot compost made by students during the PDC

The armchair critic

The armchair critic

I read an article today that stayed with me all day. Basically someone citisised Bill Mollison for changing his mind in the 70s and early 80s about the use of swales, and went on to nitpick about the original meaning of the word swale, as (at least I think that was the goal) he tried to bring the point across that there is dogma in permaculture. I proceeded to check out this person’s CV and saw that he is doing his Phd and has done copious amounts of research, written papers and other publications related to permaculture etc. The one thing that was missing was practical experience.

Permaculture is a wonderful theoretical treasure trove. We can discuss, debate and disagree about every little thing if we really want. We can vilify the people that have made Permaculture what it is today and badmouth the people that are out there doing the hard yakka while trying to stay true to Permaculture principles and ethics. We can sit in our armchairs and study Permaculture for years, read all the books the world has on Permaculture, know the Designer’s Manual inside out and still not know anything at all about Permaculture. Why? Because Permaculture needs to be practised. Nature needs to be studied and Permaculture principles and ethics applied, and re-applied differently if need be. This can not happen in a few weeks, a few months or even a few years! The only way you will understand Permaculture properly is if it is put into practise in a location under constant observation and the results are the teachers!

Studying Permaculture theory, sifting through it to find the faults and then lashing out at its founder is just sitting back and finger pointing. Instead get out there, get dirty, do it and make a change! Permaculture is all about solutions, instead of focusing on “problems”, like the official meaning of the word swale. If we had as many people on the ground physically doing the work as we have armchair critics, this world would already be a better place.

©2016 Zaia; diyfoodandhealth.com, incorporating Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast, simplicity, permaculture, self reliance, self sufficiency, sustainability, food, health and homesteading, the armchair critic; permaculture critisism through acadamics.


  1. good for you girl!

  2. En zo is het maar net!

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