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Dear New Farm,
I am a graduate of Evergreen State College’s wonderful sustainable
ag program and since then (over the past 7 years) my wife and I
have been living in Bali, Indonesia, where we own and operate an
organic farm and sustainable ag training center for local Indonesians.
Our vision has always been to help develop a model of viable eco-ag
for marginalized farmers in the humid tropics, and while it has
been a tough road, I think we’re having some great successes.
Farmers come from all over Indo to work with our farm...Folks who
want to enter the training program are paid the same as those who
aren’t yet interested in a focused training, the only catch
is that those who enter to train agree at the outset to leave after
the first year. So many locals are tempted to just stay and farm
with a steady paycheck, so it actually becomes tough to search out
those individuals with higher aspirations.
These are the gems that are going to lead the way in local agriculture
here. After a year, they agree to leave the paycheck and we help
them set up a small farm elsewhere (usually back in their own village).
Then, once they’ve reached succession with their harvests
and plantings they are free to utilize our distribution channels,
sales team and cold box truck to get to market. Usually they offer
their products at prices far below ours, which essentially shoots
us in the foot, but that’s the best part! That means its working.
The end game for us is when we’ve got a large enough group
of growers started up that we can’t even begin to compete
and essentially aren’t needed anymore! Then we can return
home and start our own little place!
So that’s my little blurb on our farm project in Bali. We
also have a similar program we started last year to help build economic
viability into other aspects of culinary cultural heritage. We search
out artisan producers, help adapt their production systems and final
products for new markets, and then introduce them to niches that
can potentially save aspects of their culture (or at least give
them the power of choice to whether they continue these traditions).
We currently bring a number of products to market in the U.S. under
our farm name, Big Tree Farms, Bali—handcrafted Balinese sea
salts, wildcrafted long peppers, traditional honeys from Java…and
we’re about to introduce a fabulous new sugar product from
a few incredibly obscure, marginalized islands in the Moluccas!
It is all so much fun…sorry for digressing but just wanted
to share! You have a wonderful clearinghouse of information!
Big Tree Farms, Bali