Salas is a farmer residing in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, working and living on the permaculture farm; Bumi Langit. I had the pleasure of meeting with him as he taught us about the design system and social design principles which make up the foundation of permaculture farming. Permaculture is a system of agriculture based on a functional approach to design where the use of ecological principles and balanced landscape patterns provide diverse ecosystems where food can grow naturally. (Holmgren, D. 2002)
It is stated that the development of sustainable strategies for the management of dry lands is one of our most urgent global needs (Mollison, B. 1988) and permaculture farming is one of these sustainable strategies. This was reinforced by Salas as he told the story of how the owners came to farm on the land. In 2006 the soil was so hard they could hardly grow anything yet just thirty years prior in 1970, the land was “full of water and the soil was so very fertile.” It had gone hard as the previous owners instilled farming techniques from the government where they “introduce pesticides and farmers become lazy and the soil becomes more damaged and farming becomes more expensive. Overtime they want to plant more but they need a new pesticide and the price goes up, so the farmer becomes a slave of the government.” This exact type of “government farming” is what is causing unsustainable and unusable land. Permaculture farming “brought life back to the land in a slow process but now thrives.” By teaching and practicing permaculture design; they hope to resolve this issue of chemical pesticides and degradation of land.
Salas provided an extremely in-depth discussion as I asked about the amount of white rice that is consumed in Indonesia. He understands that people “know you have to eat the rice or eat the vegetables but you never identify what kind of rice you have to eat, what kind of vegetables you have to eat. They [the supermarkets] don’t explain it in a clear way.” He believes we are misinformed in our knowledge of foods and the only way to rectify such is to educate the people which is what he believes permaculture farms have the ability to do; just by understanding the beauty of its system. Salas was extremely passionate about his choice of lifestyle as I asked him what he eats and his response was “I eat what I grow on this farm as I am responsible and know it is all clean, all organic.” I think the most interesting thing I learnt was how naturally the system worked as he shows us his garden where “this carnivorous attracting flower is planted next to an omnivore attracting vegetable so that the bugs are naturally repelled.” I found it extremely purposeful that within the system of permaculture the output of one component provides the resources for another and no component is included unless it has more than one function.(Mollison, B. 1988)
Salas’ passion and dedication to his permaculture farming was extremely insightful and by the end of the interview I was convinced and ready to move onto the farm. Whilst he doesn’t push for anyone to do anything, he believes that through education people can make their own choices and permaculture farming “is the life they want to choose as a free person and it does the most good for our land.”
Multiple Authors. 2015, Permaculture Design, Australia, viewed April 6th <http://permacultureprinciples.com/principles/>
Mollison, B. 1988, Permaculture: a designer’s manual, Rundles Publishing, Australia.
Holmgren, D. 2002, Permaculture, Permanent Publishers, Australia
*I have an audio recording of Salas giving his consent for this interview and the information he shared to be included in research and on this blog. This can be made available upon request.
**All photographs in this post were taken by the author.