stories from the field
Ibu Nila is from Kintamani, a dry northern region of Bali. Growing up, she left school at a young age to help her family make a living. Today, Nila owns three internationally-renowned restaurants in Bali and has a mission to make organic farming a viable career in Bali. Her relaxed, casual and beautifully-situated restaurants are supplied by local farmers who have committed to not using chemical products in production. Nila has a contract with each farmer through which they get paid even in the case of a failed or lacking harvest. In return, they deliver her fresh fruits and vegetables and nutrient-rich heritage rices. At her restaurants, Nila is always looking for ways to do things herself - she now makes fresh tofu, feta, sauces, cereals, wine, jams, nut- milks and more.
Ibu Nila is equally committed to making healthy, organic eating more accessible to the Balinese. At her restaurant you will usually see a big crowd of ex-pats and tourists enjoying fresh and imaginative salads, Indonesian classics that are well spiced and thin crust pizza - but among them, from time to time, you will see a young Balinese couple enjoying a pizza at "locals" price.
Owner and Co-Founder, Sari Organik, Ubud
The Mahardika Family
Organic Asparagus Farmers, Badung
The Mahardika family lives at the edge of a tall cliff in Plaga, Bandung regency. They have always been a rice farming family, but recently had an opportunity that has allowed them to multiply their profits by twenty. The family participates in a program run by the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund in which local farmers receive free organic vegetable seedlings, equipment and technical support. Made (below, right) and his family chose Californian and Taiwanese asparagus seedlings for their farm. When they needed help, the director of the initiative himself would come over help to work through the issue. After harvest, Made drives his vegetables down to the office, where a small group of employees prepares and packages them. Farmers and employees take turns delivering the produce to the tourist-developed southern region, where they have established partnerships with several hotels, grocery stores and restaurants. The exoticism of asparagus in Bali allows the family to set a high price, and the conditions of the soil and weather in the area allows for nearly daily harvests all year long.
The project's resources and scope are limited, but this opportunity has changed the lives and outlook of many families in Badung.
Owner and Teacher, Har's Garden, Tegalantang
In the face of skepticism from the white rice-farming neighbors, Har and his younger brother started an organic vegetable garden in 2007. Though he's still working on developing his market, Har already supplies a number of restaurants in Ubud, including Sari Organik, with his fresh vegetables and herbs. Through his savvy use of social networking, Har has also attracted a loyal following of ex-pats who come to his garden regularly to handpick ingredients for their own kitchens.
Har is a firm believer in the health benefits of an organic and nutrient-rich diet. He also believes that everyone should have a base knowledge of where their food comes from and how it grows. Every week from Thursday to Saturday, Har teaches a free organic gardening class for three hours. Anyone is welcome to attend, but they must be ready to work hard - a critical lesson in itself!
Har has expanded his operations to include four gardens around Ubud and plans to soon begin making tofu and tempe from heritage soy plants. Perhaps soon, his neighbors will follow suit.
Owner and Head Chef, Dayu's Warung, Ubud
At two years old, Dayu's young daughter couldn't walk. As she reached out to doctors and healers around Bali for answers, Dayu discovered the enormous impact diet can have on one's health. Working at the time as a cook in a private villa, Dayu devoted herself to learning about the health benefits of different foods and the importance of farming methods to the taste and nutritional value of food.
Dayu opened her own restaurant in 2007 and has a fixture in the health-conscious Ubud community. Dayu is diabetic, and her menu reflects her focus on fun, whole and nutritious foods. She serves organic heritage red and brown rice and whips up fantastically creative dishes (such as the beetroot and sweetpotato burger bun to the left, and the tempe lasagna in the bottom center) all from organic, locally-sourced produce.
Dayu teaches cooking classes every week and is open to speaking with anyone who wishes to learn more about her work and vision. She dreams of starting her own farm someday and having an even bigger influence on what she serves in her restaurant.