It was the 13th November 2016 that we negotiated for the first piece of
land that is now connected with several other parts to make up 5EyesFarm. And as the past year has taken shape so has our vision. First up we are creating essential partnerships. These are a two-way partnership where we help to implement GreenEd and GreenPractice in schools and universities and other organisations. In turn, these organisations, schools and universities will assist us in establishing GreenEd in the villages around the farm.
We are starting on the farm and aim to spread into the district from there in partnership with the community and its leaders. We are starting a revolution of contemporary applied education in English learning, applied small business skills, integrated and organic farming practices, clean living and related ideas.
Along with the community, we will start a recycling centre and launch a campaign cleaning up the common areas, the streets and waterways. The village has already begun cleaning some drains and waterways and populating them with fish. And while these are small steps, the fish breed and become a small business. People have no spare cash here. They cannot afford any sudden changes like the need for medicine if they get sick. They are also uneducated generally although they are smart. Those who are not educated formally are smart with their hands and hearts.
Other innovations that they have been planning are to establish eco tourism in the district and to start a small bakery. They are upgrading a couple of their state run schools too and looking to improve infrastructure, the immediate environment and culture.
The partnership with the villages is substantial and particularly with help from others, we can start something good here. So – two-way partnerships… We help a school to green up, and we work with the teachers and community to weave GreenEd into their program. In turn, they will help us develop a unique model of community-based applied learning and affect a region, slowly over time.
One beautiful school is already helping by donating books for a library to be created (which some of their senior students will make happen as part of their community development program), musical instruments and old computers. Another teaching network wants to use the farm regularly for their 35 students to stay, possibly weekly. The farm will be where they do their learning for those days. In turn, the organisers will help with teaching English in the Village. Several other Indonesian teachers around the wider region have offered to help teach conversational English and other subjects and skills.
Kebun Mata Lima is not only an organic farm, but it is also a model and a place for integrated and holistic learning. We live in an age where we have all become disconnected with where things come from, how they are made, what alternatives might be available, what we can make instead of buy, how we manage waste, where our food comes from and so on. Typically, we do not get our hands dirty. Generally, we have a barrier between our lifestyles and an understanding of how our foods or other products are processed, packaged, what chemicals are involved and so on.
In other words, we have an opportunity to reconnect, through the organic farm, the animal farm and the aquaponics. We have a chance to create solutions to problems by starting to use alternative energy, by recycling and careful product choices, by planning how to use the space we have effectively. This is also an opportunity to work together and learn together around the many things involved in these areas. Community and community building is essential. The village up approach is the way forward for real lasting change to be made with a particular focus on the younger generations.
We have come a fair way in the last 12 months. Apart from these and other wonderful partnerships emerging there is talk of financial support through an aid agency and also through some private philanthropists and donors. We need this to establish GreenEd as a foundation and to build upon what we have started. The past 2 years have used most of our resources to fund and while the farm will pay for itself and its staff, the GreenEd needs funding to succeed.
We have almost completed the Family House (Rumah Keluarga) and the Teaching House is well underway. The animal farm is mainly built and we are starting to add stock – Marino sheep, goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, quails, more chickens, more ducks. We have also begun the stage one Aquaponics and it is up and running with Tilapia Nile and floating rafts. The next beds we do will have a solid medium in them. Another will have towers and tubes. It will take time. We are redesigning the roof at present.
Completing means we can focus on the critical stuff, helping the groups we partner with, developing GreenEd, establishing projects in the village. With all that goes on with building these areas, we are still growing and maintaining the organic farm, and its composts, mulches, harvests, seed saving, seed planting, seedling transfers, watering, shading. For the animal farm, there is ongoing work cleaning, feeding, improving things. Other gardens and areas need ongoing attention as well.
Marketing and selling food is also a big area we have been working on these past 12 months. Veggie box’s, markets, the organic expo in JKT, and various regular customers who pick up fresh from the farm. We aim to make Gado Gado from our organically grown peanuts and Sambals from our aquaponics tomatoes (best we have ever tasted!!!)
Integrated farming is exciting. It is also challenging. The ducks need a pond to swim in, but the chickens will drown if there is a pond nearby. So we have the ducks separated at the moment with their own great pond. They still meet the criteria: serving more than 2 purposes – producing eggs, compost and one-day meat. Ideally, we would have them fully integrated sharing the same space as the other animals. These are some of the livestock challenges, but there are also mechanical ones: machines needing parts – the human ones – community spirit lacking elevation, the logistical ones: officials imposing levies. Workers getting ill.
It has been an incredible 12 months, and a great deal of progress has happened. Mainly we have really strengthened the community ties and the team spirit of all who are associated with our work. It is exciting to think where the next 12 months will take us.