Supporting a thriving network of Balinese organic farmers to produce high quality stock for IDEP Seed Bank is a complex mission. With rising popularity of permaculture and organically-farmed produce, the IDEP team run to keep up with demand.
A verdantly landscaped centre of rehabilitation, the inmate farmers of central Bali’s Bangli Prison not only produce fresh, organic food for the prison kitchen that sustains their “village” population – but are a strong link in Bali’s organic, heirloom seed supply chain as a main partner to the IDEP Foundation Seed Bank.
Quietly growing the prison’s permaculture farming system, the inmate’s passionate interest are essential in maintaining regular stocks to support growth of organic farming networks across Indonesia.
Discovering a jar of seeds, stored in the prison woodwork studio, Bangli’s then newly-appointed head warden was delighted to learn the stash was indeed a treasure of local organic food seeds belonging to the prisoners.
“I was so happy to find that inmates honoured the value of the seeds,” explained Officer Diding Alian, a self-confessed fan of permaculture and seed-saving, after learning of the initiative operated by prisoners in collaboration with IDEP since 2010.
The farm already keeps chickens and ducks - and gardens that grow crops of corn, cassava, taro, guava, sunflowers, papaya and eggplant will extend to four times the current size, with an original bed converting to aquaculture ponds to grow fish and maintain the water cycle.
Expansion plans for the inmate-led farm include the introduction of cattle for composting and improve biogas generation to run the kitchen. New garden beds are ready to go in preparation for IDEP’s training courses in 2017.
Trained as a permaculture facilitator by IDEP, the current garden caretaker is a long-term inmate with an evergreen smile, who will assist in leading the new team of practitioner trainees. Drawing on management skills as a former development aid worker with a global food program he will supervise the group in organic gardening practice and seed-saving operations, as well as teaching numeracy and literacy skills.
“I will be encouraging the inmates who work in the gardens to reflect on the past and the positive values of self-improvement - and to not repeat their mistakes in the future,” he explained with enthusiastic animation.
A social enterprise model, the project allows funds to improve the success of their collective farming visions, which has the potential to lead the Bangli program into future replication to other prisons and toward gaining international standard qualifications.
Prison management plans to formalise the reform program toward ongoing success of vocational training for the longer-term inmates, allowing pathways to positive futures - the opportunity to evolve with the gardens.
The Bangli project is an excellent example of retooling people and reforming their lives to care about the welfare of the living planet and all sentient life.
“This is the essence of reform underpinned by education pathways. Lives changed. People changed to benefit society. Pay back to communities that have been offended,” says Mary Farrow, postgraduate student at Monash University, on a recent IDEP program assessment visit at Bangli Prison.
"With an evidence based standard of goals, delivery and outcomes, the Bangli seed saving project illustrates strong beneficial relationships between justice, sustainable practice, and disaster management. The logical outcomes for these projects can be reproduced elsewhere".
The interlocking partnership through shared benefit with IDEP Foundation, prison management and the inmates forms a strong basis for trust, progress and stands as an exemplar for others to follow and study.
Empowering Local Farmers To The Next Level
Supported by Boeing Corporation, IDEP have been fulfilling the commitment to support local farmers to join the enforcement of local seed preservation. By introducing a holistic concept of permaculture towards Bali local farmers, the main goal is to be able to alter their perspective towards chemical-led agriculture to more on a sustainable, earth-friendly, and income generator practices.
There are three villages in Bali assisted by this collaborative program – these villages are representing Bali district that are mostly away from the vastness of tourism development – Karangasem, Negara, and Buleleng.
The application of renewable energy sources using biogas – a sustainable flammable energy using cow manure (and other methane sources) to generate a stove, began in 2014 at Bukit Village, Karangasem District.
Along the years, the replication development able to reach two other villages – Yeh Embang Village, Negara District and Pedawa Village, Buleleng District.
Permaculture principle, catch and store energy, are mostly applied here, where the waste of the fermentation process from the biogas reactor – slurry, used as rich compost to support the development of home garden and seed garden.
From this program, IDEP able to empower 30 seed farmers, with the supply of sustainable renewable energy and composting system, thus the seed garden will thrive and produce high quality local organic and open pollinated seeds.
Save Bali Seeds!
In 2015, IDEP conducted a research program recording Bali local seeds, from local plants that been used for cultural and religious ceremonial offerings – since Hindu majority in Bali adapting local custom, back then they use local ingredients provided by the nature to create offerings (i.e flower petals, pulses, fruits, leafs,etc)
SEARCA (Souteast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture) gave IDEP their full support on finishing up the research program, making of the catalogue, preservation and replication through community empowerment with women’s group of Dauh Uma Village. From this program, IDEP able to gather more than 23 types of seeds completed with its cultural and function from the local custom description.
It is very important to understand that the green revolution and conventional agriculture have enough power to destroy our prestigious ecosystem, and declining number of preserved local seeds will be a good indicator that we tend to ignore and forget to protect our own land our own environment by replacing local plants (that also used for local food ingredients) with conventional vegetables and orchards.
IDEP Bank of Seeds:
IDEP Seed Bank distributes seeds to a growing network of organic farms, with 36 growers across Bali now contributing more than 20 varieties of local vegetable and herbs seeds back into the “bank system” - where seeds are quality-graded and packaged for retail sale at outlets on Bali, or distributed to local rural farmers around Indonesia.
As one of the first integrated seed bank in Bali and East Flores - driven by social entrepreneurship to maintain its self-sufficiency to support local partnering farmers, IDEP Seed Bank also wanting to become one of main vault for Bali for organic local seeds.
View This Month IDEP Seeds Catalogue Here
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