Today we went out the Learning Farm in Cianjur, about 3 hours from Jakarta ( www.thelearningfarm.com ) LDS Charities got involved with TLF late last year when they needed some help – they have a number of large sponsors, but programs like these can use all the help they can get!
TLF is a small “farm” school, where young, vulnerable students (ages 15-25) who come from difficult backgrounds, come to live on the farm and are taught organic farming. In the process they also go to school (English, math, computers, plant science, etc.) as well as some life skills – discipline, working together, responsibility, keeping a schedule, etc. The students come from all over Indonesia (and a couple from Somalia and Afghanistan), stay for 100 days and learn marketable and real life skills, go back home and do great things in their communities. What a great work TLF is doing! Most of these kids have never been away from home, never had a job, never kept to a schedule, and certainly never gardened.
The farm raises vegetables (corn, beans, cucumbers, Chinese okra, cabbage, lettuce, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, radishes, tomatoes and they soon hope to add rice) and small animals (goats, chickens, rabbits, and will soon add fish). The goal is for the farm to be 50% self-sustaining by selling their produce to local stores – they aren’t there yet, but that’s the goal. (Production isn’t maximized because students make mistakes!) We did find out we have unknowingly purchased their produce when we shopped at KemChicks, a store we occasionally shop at!
The students’ schedule is pretty structured: up at 6, breakfast, work on the farm from 6:30-8:30, clean up, school from 9:30-11:30, lunch, class from 1-3, work on farm until 5:30, clean up, dinner, then evening activities (each evening is something different: arts & crafts, religion, music, movie, TLF Got Talent, personal time). They wash their own dishes, clothes, common areas and are expected to keep their sleeping areas clean and tidy.
It was a great experience today seeing up close what a great work Emily and the team at TLF are doing! These kids come together, keep the rules, incredibly well-behaved, were very respectful to us, work hard, were genuinely happy for us to be there, smiled and couldn’t have been more gracious. We can’t help but wonder whether a school like this could succeed in the US or students in the US would be as respectful, happy and be willing to live in conditions like the kids here….sad, but probably not….
As usual, the drive out to the school was a beautiful look at incredible Indonesian scenery: