IDEP Foundation

Gardening as a Way to Survive in Pandemic

As part of a support for the community in Bali during the COVID-19 pandemic, IDEP has assisted seven groups in Kemenuh village to manage permaculture-based community gardens. The assistance started in May aims to help the community meet their daily needs for food as most of them have lost their jobs and daily income due to the pandemic.

One of the groups is the subak (Balinese traditional water management cooperative) in Tengkulak Kaja hamlet. In their community garden, they planted Chinese cabbage, shallots, eggplant, chilies, local tomatoes, peas, and long beans. There are also marigold and balsam for ceremonial purposes in several beds. After three months, the garden shows progress.

This polyculture-type garden is planted with nine types of plants, including vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The two beds on the right were planted with Chinese cabbage before they were harvested (Photos: Edward Angimoy)

From two beds, they had harvested Chinese cabbage. One bed is used to supply the three-days-lunch for the members who are preparing a ceremony at the temple. The rest is for daily consumption by the families of Nyoman Lenan, Ni Wayan Kemir, and Jero Ade Kemur, who are trusted by the group to regularly manage the gardens every day. Not only for their own needs, but they also shared it with neighbors in need.

Nyoman Lenan spends more time in the afternoon to manage the garden, while in the morning he just makes a quick visit before going to work in the rice field (Photo: Edward Angimoy)

Before the pandemic, the three of them were selling banten (offerings for religious ceremonies) to pay for their daily lives. Besides, to increase their income, they also work as laborers in rice fields whose wages are only received at harvest time. From selling offerings, they can get a minimum of IDR 100,000 a day.

After harvesting Chinese cabbage, Jero Ade Kemur and Ni Wayan Kemir were waiting curiosly for the next harvest (Photo: Edward Angimoy)

However, as the pandemic broke out and the government began implementing a policy of restricting activities last March, income from selling offerings immediately fell. “Now there is no income. Nil. Fortunately, there are vegetables from the garden, so we can eat vegetables,” said Nyoman Lenan.

There are four beds of local tomatoes in the garden. In 2-3 weeks, the tomatoes will be ready to be harvested (Photo: Edward Angimoy)

For Nyoman Lenan, Ni Wayan Kemir, and Jero Ade Kemur, the garden they manage have had a big impact. “We were the ones who always bought the food we need. But now, we don’t have to buy anymore. Everything is available in the garden. For we don’t have money, we can just pick what we need. Otherwise, rice mixed with salt is all we have, no vegetables,” he said.

I Wayan Suartana from IDEP (left) is showing to Nyoman Lenan the pest attached to chili and how to reduce it with natural pesticide (Photo: Edward Angimoy)

Not only vegetables but now they can also save money as they no longer need to buy flowers for ceremonial purposes, both at the temple and home. “Previously, we buy flowers. But now it’s just a matter of picking,” said Jero Ade Kemur.

Since the flowers in the garden are blooming, Ni Wayan Kemir and Jero Ade Kemur have picked them almost every day for religious offerings (Photo: Edward Angimoy)

When asked about their plans, the three of them had almost the same answer. They want to manage the garden as a way of survival in this uncertain pandemic. “We want to continue planting,” said Ni Wayan Kemir, whom Jero Ade Kemur agreed with. “We want to continue to manage the garden so that we can survive. We already have everything in the garden, no need to buy it anymore. We’re grateful to have this garden,” said Nyoman Lenan. (Ed)

*) Interview was held on September 24, 2020. It was a week after they harvested Chinese cabbage and still waiting for other plants to be harvested.