The Learning Farm

The Learning Farm goal is to empower vulnerable youth across Indonesia to become independent, contributing, and responsible members of community. Mission: Establishing a safe, nurturing and productive learning environment Instilling essential life skills and core values through the learning medium of organic farming Developing environmental responsibility Creating a sustainable network of alumni who are actively engaged with the community Ensuring continuous staff development Maintaining accountability to all stakeholders
Aug 25, 2015

My Name is Dede, and I am a Leader

Dede at the greenhouse
Dede at the greenhouse

Hello there, my name is Dede, and I am 23 year old girl from Sumedang, West Java. I’d like to share the story of my life and what I am doing here at The Learning Farm. To be able to keep learning and growing is a dream come true, and I shall tell you why.

My father is a casual labor who works wherever he is paid, in fields, factories or construction sites. My mother looks after the house. After high school I worked in various short-term jobs to support my family. Even though I always wanted to go to University, it was not an option for me. For about 3 years I worked in many places as a waitress, shop attendant or sales girl. Life was tough but I was happy to help my parents to cover our daily needs and school fees for my little sister.

One day I was out of job and my high school teacher, Pak Sahdi, suggested I join The Learning Farm. It was a gift of an opportunity because I knew instantly that this is my chance to learn something to have a better life. The Learning Farm not only teaches organic farming which relates to my educational background, but also other essential skills such as English, computer literacy, leadership and other invaluable skills.

My first days at The Learning Farm were not easy. The weather was challenging and I was the only girl before other girls arrived. But that did not deter me. I steeled myself and learnt to adjust living with youth from other parts of Indonesia.

My day is always full and productive from the time I wake to the end of the day.

I belong to the “Spider House”. My colleagues appointed me the House Leader so I can have the confidence as a girl to be a leader. And I did! I proved myself as a house leader as I am independent, competent, and patient. It is not easy to lead a House of eight youth! The boys are stubborn and can be self-centered, but I always try to deal with them wisely, talk calmly and motivate them to work as a team.

The Learning Farm values of Integrity, Discipline, Caring, Respect, Responsibility, and Teamwork help me to improve myself. My friends and I are always amazed by how much knowledge and confidence we have gathered here. We are trained to manage our time and be responsible for our own duties. Even if I have to clean the animal shelter to collect manure, or turn the compost pile, I do it with pride and it does not disgust me. I love all the experiences this farm has given me.

On graduation, Pak Sahdi has offered me to work with him to become agricultural facilitator in Sumedang. I am really looking forward to implementing and sharing my knowledge with farmers in and around my village of Desa Sukarapih.

Thank you The Learning Farm for giving me the opportunity to develop myself, and to all generous donors and volunteers who make this amazing program possible.

Collecting manure
Collecting manure
Learning English with Ms Cara
Learning English with Ms Cara

Links:

Jun 23, 2015

Spreading Knowledge to Halmahera

Merlin
Merlin

Merlin, 22, is a hungry man- not for food, but for knowledge. To him, learning never ends at The Learning Farm (TLF) and he wants to learn from everyone, from the staff to his juniors in the basic farming course.

Hailing from Halmahera, Merlin had spent nine months at TLF, completing his basic farming course, and is now in the advanced course. He now has the opportunity to teach and guide his new batch of juniors in the basic course, since in TLF, students in the advanced course, instead of instructors, teach the basic students.

Now a mentor to the new students, Merlin doesn’t feel superior to them and remains humble. “We all come here for the same thing; to learn. I also learn from them,” he said.

Despite having already spent seven months with his batch mates, he finds something new to learn from them every time, and wants to continue to interact with and learn from them. “But it goes the other way around also, they would want to learn from me too,” Merlin said for them.

Since coming to TLF, he has developed more patience and discipline, especially in waking up early as the students at the farm have to start their day at 5am. “Hopefully I can continue this when I go back,” he said. Most importantly, he has also cut down on his smoking habits. To discourage students from smoking, it is prohibited in many parts of the farm.

TLF gathers youth from all over Indonesia, and Merlin likes interacting with people from the places he has never been to. He enjoys the strong camaraderie formed with his batch mates, who are of similar ages as him, and have come here with the same purpose.

Organic farming is little known back in his village, and Merlin wants to be the first person to practice organic farming there after he graduates from TLF. “I want to expand what I have learnt and not let it go to waste,” he said.

With other advanced students testing soil pH
With other advanced students testing soil pH
Cultivating the new farm
Cultivating the new farm

Links:

Apr 24, 2015

The Other Way to Make Compost

Learning vermicomposting
Learning vermicomposting

The Learning Farm is striving to improve the quality of our program. In the long run we’d like to implement a fully-integrated farming system. We want the students to understand that the technique we are teaching them is not the only form of organic farming. Recently we have introduced another way of making compost which is called vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting uses worms and microorganisms to convert organic materials to a valuable soil amendment and source of plant nutrients. Vermicompost improves the soil structure, stabilizes soil pH, increases moisture infiltration in soils, and improves its moisture holding capacity. It differs from traditional composting as it doesn't require a lot of space and less work as you don't have to turn the pile in the process. Vermicompost also makes the plant grows faster, the leaves grow bigger, and decreases attacks from the pests.

Out of few species of earthworms that can be used for vermicomposting, we are using Lumbricus rubellus. The students are working at the “worms farm” every Monday to add the manure or to harvest the compost.

Harvesting the compost
Harvesting the compost
The vermicomposting boxes
The vermicomposting boxes

Links:

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