IDEP Foundation

Yesterday’s Nutritional Needs, Like Today’s Nutritional Needs

Organic farming is an integrated agricultural system that optimizes agro-ecosystem productivity naturally, capable of producing quality and sustainable food. The training programs we conduct typically do not stop at that concept. We often strive to integrate it with permaculture principles. In short, permaculture is a farming design system inspired by natural patterns to create a sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly farming system.

At this time, we want to commemorate our longstanding and recent work efforts. Although our activities seem similar, each situation and memory has its own uniqueness. Positive stories from each region keep us learning how the community’s living capacity continues to improve.

East Flores is the largest cashew producer and the second-best Arabica coffee producer after Manggarai. However, it is considered the poorest region in the NTT province. Some villages assisted by IDEP face limitations that are uniform for East Flores community: lack of electricity, inadequate road access, limited market access, and a clean water crisis.

One of the assisted communities is practicing Family Garden (Photo: IDEP Documentation 2016)

In 2013, about 10 years ago, we initiated a connection with the community in East Flores through the Disaster Risk Reduction and the Formation of Community-based Disaster Management (KMPB) program in Serinuho Village, a coastal village that was hit by a devastating tsunami in 1997.

The activities continued through the “Enhancing Resilience of Vulnerable Communities in East Flores” program, which lasted not just 1-2 years. Together with the Social Study and Development Foundation (YPPS), we continued to collaborate on a significant effort to improve community living capacity through sustainable farming practices and healthy food processing. This broad orientation led us to continue supporting communities in six other villages, including Welo Village-Painapang Village in Lewolema Subdistrict, Pajinian Village in West Adonara Subdistrict, Serinuho Village in Titehena Subdistrict, Lowolere Village in Larantuka Subdistrict, Hokeng Jaya Village in Wulanggitang Subdistrict, and Kolaka Village in Tanjung Bunga Subdistrict.

In 2015, the program “Enhancing Resilience of Vulnerable Communities in East Flores” escalated to “Permaculture and Seed Production in East Flores.” Alongside YPPS, we collaborated in supporting communities in all mentioned villages until 2018 – implementing capacity development programs to make villages resilient and self-sufficient, including Family Garden Training (KPK).

Family garden owned by a resident in Serinuho Village. (Photo: IDEP Documentation 2016)

Family garden owned by a resident in Kolaka Village. (Photo: IDEP Documentation 2016)

Family garden owned by a resident in Serinuho Village. (Photo: IDEP Documentation 2016)

Usula Utok Kelen, a Nutrition Educator from Kwutalewun, mentioned that before the Family Garden Training in 2017, most infants and toddlers experienced malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies. This information was confirmed by Robertus Dowo Making, who was the head of Serinuho Village at that time.

“There was a reduction in malnutrition cases in 2018. From the Posyandu (Integrated Health Service) data, I found that malnutrition cases did not reach level 5 anymore. It means that even though there are still cases, they have been minimized. I have confidence because the need for nutritional improvement from the patterns (Family Garden) is felt by the communities. That underlies my budgeting for the creation of a permaculture garden pattern in the proposal for the Regional Revenue and Expenditure Budget (APBD),” he explained.

Maria Boleng Tukan, who was then the Program Coordinator at YPPS, mentioned that the assisted farmers began to feel the results of the garden in the second and third years.

“The benefits range from harvests for daily family consumption to meeting the need for vegetables, which previously relied solely on fish and rice. But after experiencing the benefits of having sufficient vegetables at home, they sell the surplus. So, the impact they feel includes savings on buying vegetables outside and additional income to redirect for other needs such as buying rice, fish, or school supplies, even saving. And now, they have their own seed stock.”


From East Flores to Cianjur

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake shook Cianjur, West Java, on November 21, 2022, at 1:21 PM. The earthquake, with an epicenter 124 km deep and 9 km north of Cianjur City, affected the lives of thousands of residents in West Java. As of November 24, 2022, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) recorded 272 deaths, 2,046 injuries, and 62,545 affected and displaced people.

One of the areas that caught our attention was Tunagan Village, Wangunjaya Village, located 14 km from the epicenter and difficult to reach. Together with KUN Humanity System (KUN+), we continued the emergency response to post-disaster recovery.

The garden owned by the Tunagan community (Photo: Edward Angimoy/IDEP)

Three days after the earthquake, there was no food in Tunagan Village. Community were temporarily isolated. Most people, especially those living in shelters after the incident, consumed cassava as their main food.

One of them, Dodi Mulyadi, initiated the other to search for food. The difficult road access to leave the village for the city made residents think of alternative ways. They collected food from other people’s gardens.

“Excuse me. Can this be consumed by many people?” he asked when requesting permission from the garden owner.

Dodi and other young people even went to stores, inquiring about the availability of rice. They bought it with cash collected by the youth.

With the Family Garden Training, the community of Tunagan Village has become more capable of providing food stocks in case of emergency situations. Anesah, one of the training participants, initiated other community members to expand the community garden around Baleriung. They aim to increase the harvest yield. The expansion of this garden has been underway since four months after the introductory training on Permaculture. As of the writing of this text, they have successfully harvested various types of vegetables, such as mustard greens (caisim), kale (kalian), green spinach, chili, roselle, cucumber, and basil (known locally as surawung).

Of all the vegetables, the most sought after by the community of Tunagan is mustard greens. This vegetable is in demand, taken freely for personal consumption. Since it was planted in the ground, there have been two harvests. Anesah is watering the mustard greens for the third time.

Mustard greens are one of the vegetables with complete nutrition, fulfilling the nutritional requirements of the communities. Mustard greens can even be consumed raw as fresh vegetables or processed in various dishes. This vegetable can thrive in almost all types of soil with an optimal acidity level (pH) of 6 to 7 and a temperature around 15-20 degrees Celsius (Fajri Ramdhan, via

Anesah posing with her small vegetables before planting them in the Family Backyard Garden (Photo: Edward Angimoy/IDEP)

In Indonesia, we often encounter mustard greens only as a complement to meatballs or chicken noodles. However, its nutritional content is quite dense, ranging from protein, fat, carbohydrates, Ca, P, Fe, to Vitamins A, B, and C. Moreover, based on the journal entitled “The Effect of Boiled Mustard Greens (Brasiscarapa) on Blood Glucose Levels in Mice (Mus musculus)” written by Gogo Prasetyo (2016), it is stated that the vitamin K content in mustard greens is five times higher than the standard Vitamin K needed by adults per day, which is 60-80 mcg (Prasetyo, 2016). Therefore, consuming a cup of mustard greens can already fulfill the body’s daily vitamin K needs.

Article: Nicolaus Sulistyo © IDEP Foundation