Astami posed in front of the last garden she created
For the Hindu community in Bali, using offerings (sesajen) is common for worship or upakara. Local people often call it “banten” or “bebanan.” Considering the increasing number of people too busy with their activities, the preparations of offerings and upakara tools could not be made in time. Some individuals utilize this opportunity by creating various types of offerings for sale.
Made Budi Astami is one of them. She resides in Kedisan Hamlet, Yehembang Kauh Village, Mendoyo District, Jembrana Regency. Apart from meeting her family’s needs, she also sews offerings for sale. She most often makes tamas, with its circular shape, function as a base or container for offerings. However, this activity is rarely done, only occasionally, or if someone orders it. He has been selling fern vegetables (often called fern leaves in Bali) since two years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic was still threatening her moves.
Indonesians are experiencing an endless heat wave. This condition is caused by the El-Nino phenomenon. These conditions cause an increase in the potential for cloud growth and reduce rainfall.
Astami should be busy collecting ferns to sell these days. However, drought cannot be avoided. There was no rain at all. The growth of these vegetables becomes less fertile. Hence, in the last two months, she traded palm leaves (people in Bali often call them ron leaves). This leaf is one of the ingredients often used for prayer or upakara needs.
Astami, along with her husband, posed in front of their house
Ketut, Astami’s husband, who works as a farmer, also felt the impact of the drought. Bananas should be their mainstay crop. These fruits need large amounts of water to increase productivity. Thankfully, they still have mangoes, durian, cloves, and cocoa grown in their ancestors’ gardens. This garden has been around for a long time. It could be more than 50 years old and has been used for generations until now.
The phenomenon experienced by Ketut is following information from the Head of the Jembrana Agriculture and Food Department, I Wayan Sutama, who has issued a circular to all subaks in Jembrana, totaling 79 subaks. The flyer encouraged farmers to switch their crops to secondary crops during the dry season (Budi Astrawan, as written in detik.com, 2023).
“In Jembrana, there are 6,636 hectares of rice fields, and 775.5 hectares of it are threatened by drought. In June 2023, we issued a circular to deal with the dry season,” said Sutama.
Astami was one of the participants in the training activities regarding Family Home Gardens (KPK), which we held last March. She was active in the training, including managing the garden she created independently after the training. We visited, monitored the garden’s progress in her front yard, and confirmed that the garden was one of the best according to our assessment. Together with 19 other community gardens, Astami continued post-harvest training activities in July.
Training with us is not Astami’s first experience managing a garden. Last year, she tried growing two vegetables, chilies and tomatoes. Feeling that the plant could develop fully, she ignored fertilizer use and took care of it as is. Only a small amount of the harvest can be consumed. However, his involvement in the Family Home Garden Training (KPK) and post-harvest processing training provides another motivation.
Her knowledge of garden management is no longer the same. Astami is more confident and understands what she should do for her garden. She learned many things, from soil processing training, seed saving training, and post-harvest product processing practices, including making chips and processing coconut into Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO).
“It is beneficial for me, and it increases my knowledge, too, from not knowing to knowing. How to maintain a good garden, which I didn’t understand before, but now I do. From not knowing how to make VCO oil to knowing,” she said enthusiastically.
Family Garden’s Management to Post-harvest Treatment
Her garden with a variety of plant species
“Tomatoes and chilies have been around for a month, so it’s only been two months. It’s not that apparent yet. If the eggplant has bloomed yet is still short, it is still small.”
Before planting vegetables, she had tried planting marigold flowers in the early days of creating the garden. After some time, she started adding beds and growing eggplants, chilies, and cherry tomatoes from the seeds we gave him on August 8, 2023.
“I planted eggplants at first. The first thing is to make seeds from the seeds that IDEP gave. When the seed has borne fruit, then that was the first fruit I used as seed. I already got information from IDEP on how to make good seeds. So, I put it into practice immediately, drying it first, for example.”
Apart from these vegetables, she also got Brazilian spinach and bitter melon seeds. She obtained these two vegetables after participating in post-harvest product training activities, about one month after planting eggplants, chilies, and cherry tomatoes. She added Brazilian spinach to his yard, further increasing his gardening motivation.
“I am very interested because I’ve never seen Brazilian spinach. Very huge. “Now we have a lot,” said Astami later.
Astami prefers to process Brazilian spinach into chips. She learned how to make it, including the recipe for the dough, from post-harvest training. Meanwhile, she got the appliances, including those for making VCO, at the village office one day after we gave him the seeds.
Sunday, 13th of August 2023. That day was the first time she tried to process the Brazilian spinach into chips. Aside from making chips, Astami also had time to process VCO. He prepared all her appliances. She started from jars, tea strainers, spoons, basins, funnels, graters, machetes, cotton wool, and tissue. The husband helped her to grate the coconut. They then took water and squeezed the grated coconut to make coconut milk. The results are stored in a jar for approximately overnight. The next day, Astami took the oil from the top surface layer, in the clearest part. That was the last step she usually did before putting the oil into the provided bottle.
Until now, she had not had time to think of a name for his product. However, the promotions continue. Along with her husband, she gave him a VCO bottle to use at no cost. She said this is for advertising.
“Good. Like a scrub, they said. We can drink it too. “We can also use it for a massage,” responded Astami’s friends when they tried using VCO.
If their marketing is successful, this VCO product will be sold for IDR 20,000.00. The response from her friends was quite agreeable. They concurred and didn’t mind. Astami and her husband, of course, want to market it on a broader scope. Recently, they have produced five 100 ml bottles from 10 coconuts.
Article: Nicolaus Sulistyo
Photo: Fajar Kurniawan © IDEP Foundation