If you travel through part of North Sumatra and pay attention to the gardens around people’s houses, you would be surprised to realise the amount of empty land, dormant with nothing growing on these lands, and yet, people here go to the market and buy fruit and vegetables with money they could not afford to spend.
Singapore’s late Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew once said, Indonesia is so fertile that if you push a dry stick to the ground, it would still grow. Sadly, many people in Indonesia don’t realise the magic land around their homes, lands that would feed their family if they make the effort to grow things on it, and become self-sufficient.
In this part of the world, people are more interested to grow cash crops. Even if they grow fruits and vegetables around their homes, they are likely to sell these crops in the end, rather than feeding their family with them. You might be surprised to know that people here live on the instant noodle or low-quality sweet bread they could buy in the market. They will sell the lovely fruit and vegetables for cash and feed themselves with these rubbish quality food in exchange.
In February this year and as part of our continual work through project “HEART”, we arranged a small workshop and group discussions with the local people of Garoga village of Samosir island, in Lake Toba. The aim of the workshop was to encourage local people to make the most of their dormant gardens around their homes. On this opportunity, we discussed issues around organic farming, compost making and how to raise vegetable seedlings from very fine seeds. The topic “how to grow your own vegetables and fruits” took off very smoothly and everyone looked very keen to take part.
We were very lucky to find a very kind family, host this small event, a very good example as this family own nearly one acre of dormant land around their house. It was a perfect garden example for our discussion. You may think that farmers who have been farming all their lives, would know all things related to farming, sadly this is not the case. Their traditional approached to farming using very basic tools and their lack of knowledge and understanding of the type of crops they are now growing, resulted in very poor harvests. It is hard to believe that even farmers who have been farming for years, do not have any clue how to raise seedlings from very find fruits or vegetable seeds. Vegetables like lettuces or spinach are to be purchased in the market, so they don’t bother to learn how to grow them.
We shared some seeds and seedlings on this occasion in the hope that people here will value their gardens more. We are not farming expert ourselves, but we believe in self-sufficiency. Growing their own food would allow them to save money for things they can’t grow in their own garden.
It was an amazing experience to have the opportunity to share some of our experience and we have learnt a great deal from this workshop and hope to work with the farmers in Garoga again in the near future. A huge thank you to Rosmelina Sinaga who has very kindly volunteered to help organise the event. Our sincere gratitude to Mr & Mrs Gindo Rumahorbo, who has been very willing to host the event and allow us to use their dormant garden as our workshop location. Last but not least, our huge thanks to all the farmers who attended the workshop, we truly hope this workshop has provided them with some knowledge which they can use to manage their gardens.
Our huge gratitude to Tara Pakpahan, our Project Manager for Project “HEART” who has helped sourced all the vegetable seeds and making any necessary travel arrangements for the team during our visit here. Thank you, Tara.