Help Keep the Paddies Green, a Culture Alive

Love those rare lengths of road where you can drive past wide stretches of paddy fields? Nothing says “Bali” like the image of vast swaths of young rice stalks, ripening to nourish an entire culture.

Are you astonished at the rate of rice paddy destruction? Or maybe you’ve given up the grumble and given in to a grim acceptance of a fate embellished with cheek-by-jowl development. Surely Bali’s resources cannot sustain the numbers of visitors it would require to keep solvent any planned new accommodations.

Since the government is not creating new subsidiesfor the rice farmer and other local agriculture, we might want to lend a hand by choosing a few simple and rewarding ways to support the paddy, ourselves.Enter now the several grass roots movements to support local and family agriculture, directly or indirectly sustaining those iconic rice paddies.   By learning about their philosophies and projects, people like us become an important part of the solution

Farmers of the Future! Sounds like something from my dad’s 1947 high school yearbook. But, yes, this is a movement by Yayasan Parama Anak Bangsa, intended to involve and inspire youngsters to enjoy the rewards of the rural agricultural lifestyle. The Farmers of the Future Indonesia facebook page is a treasure trove of resources, from farm camping to new local products and services, farm to your table!

As long as farming is unattractive to Bali’s youth, and there is a preference for working in the glamorous world of resorts and restaurants, there is less impetus to keep the paddies, forests, and other pastoral and natural landscapes. And when those are gone, the tourists who love Bali for its stunning scenery will easily find other islands to visit.

IDEP Foundation is a yayasan (licensed charity) which has a proven track record of supporting agriculture, green movements, and the Balinese way of life. This hardworking group has always had a youth program which educates youngsters about environmental issues and inspires interest in caring for Bali’s agriculture and natural environment.

Their expert consultants can, for a super reasonable donation, set you up at your home, with any number of gardening techniques and waste management. Composting kitchen waste to boost your garden soil, and hydroponic farming are actually perfect for even a small garden.

Another group to learn from is While this is an active movement in Bali, with various events, workshops and blog posts over the years, the website can be your jumping-off point, with articles on heritage products and slow food philosophy.

The Ubud Food Festival (Jalan Raya Sanggingan, June24 to 26)is the spot where so many of Indonesia’s most dynamic food and agriculture activists converge and share with the public their knowledge, tips, laughs, and triumphs. And, many times, free tastes of what’s cooking.

Photo by Agung Abi, courtesy of Ubud Food Festival

Notables like Helianti Hilman (Javara), Arif Springs (Djamoekoe), Ray Adriansyah (Local Parts),and Silvina Miguel (Emas Hitam rice) have launched high quality brands that are poised to upgrade your dinner table.   Festival enthusiasm is so contagious and disarming, it is easy to get swept up in the movement to rehabilitate heritage crops and livestock,orheirloom

Support family farms other ways: Tabanan’s Little Spoon Farm and Kerobokan’s Bali Direct are in the business of getting fresh local farm produce to your home. Little Spoon used to have farm visits, which raise community awareness of organic gardening, but these visits are currently suspended. Same seems to be true of the highly praised farms here: Pemulan Bali Farm &Cooking School of Taro, Chef Buda Organic Farm, and Jiwa Community Garden, in Canggu.Please follow all of these on social media, because when they reopen to the public, you could bring your family,visitors, staff, and your appetite.


Still time to enjoy the JelajaHIN Livin Sanur Fest, held on May 27-29, 2022, in the beach area right around the hotel Grand Inna Bali Beach. This gets a lot of government support, so it’s flashy and grand. Look for jukung races, food, outdoor band concerts, crafts displays, and panels about Bali’s burgeoning creative economy.


Also May 27-29 is Jakarta’s thrilling international jazz festival, Java Jazz. Best bang for your buck in the global jazz scene, make a long weekend of it! Big names include The Temptations, Nicola Conte and Kurt Elling, but I’m definitely going to check out the Beatles tribute band G-Pluck; just have a listen: tickets and


This may not be Indonesia 101, so if you are ready to graduate to the history lesson that may someday lead to justice and reconciliation, stream the extraordinary documentary, The Act of Killing, free of charge here (link below)with bonus documentaryJembatan Bacem.


Ruangrupa, Indonesian Art Director of the big hundred-days documenta art show in Germany (June 18 – September 25) have curated and launched a cutting-edge arts radio station. Music, storytelling, soundscapes, performances, interviews, experiments of all kinds: this inclusive, no-holds-barred global enterprise is not your mother’s A.M. radio station!   Online at it broadcasts 24/7, on your computer or other internet device.


Hong Kong’s big progressive contemporary art show, Art Central, has a lot of wild stuff online this year. Enjoy some of the regional performances, visual sensations, art world info and collector news, without having to leave your Bali villa! But don’t delay; Art Central ends May 29.


A once-in-a-lifetime master class in photography, The Art of Visual Story tellingwill take place June 16-21. Instructor is one of Indonesia’s most widely published documentary photographers, and a serious photographic artist in his own right, Rio Helmi. Space is still open at press time, but all photo bugs, dedicated visual bloggers, and aspiring photo journalists should check this out. Rio will guide students through the techniques for developing one’s own visual language, creating visual story telling, mastering the process for a strong documentary photographic essay, and all the while you will get valuable and constructive feedback on an individual basis. Unbeatable learning opportunity from a photographer at the top of his game; you will probably never see anything like this again in Ubud. Contact:

A local landscape as captured by Rio Helmi, courtesy of


By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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