A Farmer's Hope
Essay
23 May 2022

From Farm to Print with Kebun Kumara

Featuring Kebun Kumara, its founder, and a chat about their vision and mission.

Text
Dinda Pramesti
Photo
Kebun Kumara
Topics
A Farmer's Hope
Kebun Kumara
Seed Management
Seed Supply
Soraya Cassandra
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“Regenerating means making the situation better. Instead of only planting what’s good here, we make sure all the plants develop mutualistic relationship toward each other”

It all started in 2015 when Soraya Cassandra and Dhira Narayana got married. During that year, Sandra was still an employee in a corporate office, while Dhira was already an activist in an institution, Lingkar Ganja Nusantara. However after three years of constant 9-5 jobs, Sandra felt like there’s more to life. As a married couple, they’ve always had this goal in mind to do something more, with a goal beyond seeking money in the capital city. Their passion in building a business grew fonder when they visited their friends in Agradaya, Sleman – a place where the community develops village resources through food and agriculture by collaborations with small-holder farmers. They got the chance to spend their days there learning the process of maintaining plants, learning more about the community, and the simple art of giving back to the planet.

Having a background in psychology means that before Kebun Kumara happened, they never really dug deep into the world of gardening. However after a year of learning and research, also with the help from Bumi Langit’s program, PDC (Permaculture Design Class) and knowledge from Pak Is, founder of Bumi Langit, Kebun Kumara was open for business in July 2016. To have a concept of a regenerative garden not far from the hustling and bustling center of Jakarta is pretty lucky. Coincidental or not, since 2011, Dhira’s LGN office was situated in a wide space in Cirendeu where the trees are lush and the air is fresh. LGN then moved to Yogyakarta to give space to allow Kebun Kumara to grow as many plants as they please.

“Kumara is the Sanskrit word for the generation to come or the successor. Since we aren’t at all immortal, we want to leave something good for the planet by the help of the next generation,” Sandra explains. Since she also has a background in education, Kebun Kumara offers trainings for people with an urban lifestyle to take a step back and enjoy the flowers. “As simple as being able to grow your own organic food can mean a lot to your health without having to spend so much on a bowl of salad”, she continues. The garden also offer seeds, plants, flourishing fertilizers to be sold, and landscaping service for your own garden at home. “Our planting system is still the organic way, with dirt being our main media. We emphasize our care on the ecosystem the way we exceed sustainability – we regenerate,” Sandra explains. “Regenerating means making the situation better. Instead of only planting what’s good here, we make sure all the plants develop a mutualistic relationship toward each other.”

Sandra continues to elaborate how the producers out there are forcing the earth to only grow one kind of plant, meanwhile out there in the forests all these plants gather as one, the pancasila way. “Other than edible plants, we also have plants that fertilizes the dirt and different kinds of flowers in our garden scattered around to distract the the insects”, she continues further.

On Seed Supply

In terms of their seed supply, they usually swap with other gardens and planters. If all fails, buying it online is always an answer. “Not many seeds from our ancestors’ time are still around. Big companies have rearranged the system, making farmers feel like they have to depend on the big names. We used to have different kinds of corn with pretty colours, sadly most markets only sell the sweet yellow corns we always see and eat.” Sandra expresses her worries in plant extinction that obviously lead to food culture extinction in Indonesia. “Imagine Indonesia only eating rice as our main carb diet. That’s why this year we’re planning to do a campaign focusing on kernel preservation.”

On Waste Management

“We have implemented segregation from the start – anything organic will be made into fertilized dirt. For the non-organics, it’s still a bit tricky for us. We either do it by reducing, or turning them into ecobrics,” Sandra notes upon the topic of waste management at the farm. “A couple of years ago we got the chance to meet the makers of ecobric – Russell Maier and Ani Himawati. They did a workshop at Kebun Kumara on how to make it. It’s basically plastic cut into small pieces and crushed into one big plastic bottle. We’ve built a couple of things like chairs and tables. It does take effort though, but there are consequences of using plastic. Am I right?” Sandra shares. “People always think that all of us are vegans. We aren’t. I guess we all have our own way to be sustainable, since it isn’t a one shoe fits all scenario in this city. Find something that clicks with our way of living is realistic I guess. But we’re planning to implement more to our system in the garden for sure”.

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