Monday, January 4, 2010

Ben's words...from when we got here up until now...get ready it is a novel!

Blair and I arrived here in Bali just over 12 years ago as backpackers on a round the world trek to see and experience traditional systems of agriculture. We were hoping to find unique varieties and techniques of sustainable growing that we could incorporate into our own little organic farm and restaurant dream in the Northwestern US. Prior to travelling both Blair and myself had been managing organic farms; Blair running a farm with a unique home delivery program and myself running a more mechanized farm focused on multiple farmer markets and restaurants. I had also gotten my degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Soil Science so we had some good diverse experience by the time we got to Bali. Unfortunately what caught our attention as we travelled the far eastern islands of Timor, Alor, Flores etc, was that the prevailing farming systems were seriously off-track. Internationally banned chemicals were being used without an understanding of their inherent danger to human and nature. Children splashed cups of DDT and Paraquat from open buckets into ricefields in barefeet...These were chemicals designed for industrial agriculture prior to realizing how much long term damage they created for the earth (and prior to being banned)...And yet these small farmers were using these chemicals in unknown dosages without any understanding of the implications....This was the single worst example of corporate greed and national ignorance that I have ever in my life experienced. By the time we had reached the green shores of Bali, Blair and I had decided that we needed to do something to get farmers back on track.

Flash forward 12 years and we have built a small organic farm (not unlike what we had in the States) and the mission of the farm is to educate other local small farmers about effective organic farm systems and marketing. We run a small home delivery program (or what we call Community Supported Agriculture CSA program) and sell some produce as well to local chefs around the island. About 4 years ago we started branching off from fresh produce and fruit and started looking at larger commodity supply chains and in particular the plight of small farmers swallowed up by these supply chains. Everywhere we looked we saw the same situation; farmers making losses year on year and never being allowed to congeal into effective community based cooperatives. We began developing organic programs for Cacao, Cashews, Palm Sugar, Spices and Honey and have since built a program for direct market access and socially-equitable trade that reaches direct to the farm-gate of over 7,000 growers across the Indonesian archipelago.

Our dream is to continue to see the demand and supply of organic products (and a more evolved, socially focused BEYOND ORGANIC system of production) grow across Indonesia and South-East Asia. Education is the key to this....And as education about the importance of organic works its magic, so grows the organic movement...Its exponential...And the level of support both from local producer and local consumer has been an incredible eye-opener as to the place that organics ultimately has within the Indonesian culture (both historic and contemporary). While 12 years ago organic was primarily a “specialty” concept, this is really no longer the case...More and more local farmers are making a heart-guided switch to natural food production and on the other side of the spectrum, consumers and media here in Indonesia are also fast embracing the concept of “LOHAS” and the exciting world that opens once you begin to actually live and take advantage of a local food system.

I guess the largest single challenge for organic Bali in particular would be the the lack of agri-enterprise supports....Much production here is done by hand and many farmers with more than a small plot have opted towards chemicals or technology as a means of reducing the heavy labor of agriculture...Cost of living gets higher and rice doesn’t always cut it....Organics is even more labor...UNLESS you have a strong network of appropriate technology; cost effective organic inputs and mechanical equipment to make the extra labor an easier choice...Another issue is regulation...There is no way yet to monitor the use of the word organic and MANY MANY people misrepresent to make a profit at the expense of true organics....But this to will just takes time and demand.

Friday, December 18, 2009

HAPPY HOLIDAYS & packaging revolution

Happy Holidays to all...wishing you a peaceful, blissful and lovely new year!

we look forward to reconnecting with old friends and developing relationships with new ones.

FYI, for next week only we will be delivering on:
MONDAY to Southern Bali
THURSDAY to Southern Bali

So, on and on we have heard you gripe and and on and on we have tried to think of a way to not use plastic for our veggies...originally we had used banana leaf baskets but, the leafs would and restaurants were the impetus for our plastic crusade...damn them!

NOW, that we deliver to the people and for the people...we are giving up the plastic bags and going to try a simple of solution of newspaper packaging...I know it sounds simple and why didn't we think of it before, I don't know why.

So, next week we embark on our newspaper bagging of loose leaf items...the rest will be a box or a basket...we are still working on that part.

Once we establish the newspaper...then we might just keep on going and introduce baskets...with your name on them, or boxes....or something pretty, that is what I want, and functional...that is what everyone else wants.

And how is our service??? Are we getting better? I think we are! Do you? Please let us know and fill us in on your experiences with us and others who do stuff like us...we are working hard to make this a service you like to use and we like to run.

HAPPY ORDERING, HAPPY HANUKAH, MERRY CHRISTMAS, and all our love on the coming year!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sorrel recipes

Sorrel Recipes: The following I copied from another blog...I would like to post a link to their blog...but, am still learning.


Sorrel and Goat Cheese Quiche.

2-3 cups sorrel, coarsely chopped
a few scallions, chopped
3-4 ounces goat cheese (chevre)
3 eggs
1½ cups milk
¼ teaspoon salt
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread goat cheese (or any strong flavored cheese) in the bottom of a piecrust. Cover with chopped sorrel and scallions. Beat eggs, salt and milk together. Pour over greens. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden

Source: A Luna Circle Farm original recipe

Cream of Sorrel Soup

Clean, shred from the midrib and chop:
½ cup sorrel leaves
1½ cups leaf lettuce

Sauté them until wilted in:
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
When they are sufficiently wilted, there will be only about 3 tablespoons of leaves.

5 cups poultry or vegetable stock
Simmer about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add a small amount of the soup to:
½ cup cream
3 beaten egg yolks

Combine all ingredients and heat until the soup thickens slightly, but do no boil. Makes 5 to 6 cups.

Source: Joy of Cooking

Sorrel Pesto: great as an interesting pasta coating or a thick sauce for fish.

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh sorrel, ribs removed
1/3 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil

In a food processor or blender puree the sorrel, the parsley, the garlic, the parmesan, the pine nuts and the oil, transfer the pesto to a jar with a tight fitting lid and chill it, covered. The pesto keeps, covered and chilled, for 2 weeks. Makes about 1 cup.

To use the pesto: For every pound of dried pasta cooking in a kettle of boiling water, stir together in a heated serving bowl 3/4 cup of the pesto and 2/3 cup of the hot cooking water. When the pasta is al dente, drain it in a colander, add it to the pesto mixture, and toss the mixture until the pasta is coated well. Vermicelli works very well with this recipe.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nabila, Wawan's (our sales manager) daughter, standing in our Sorrel beds and eating Sweet Corn fresh from the stalk!

what's been going on???

Well, since the arrival of Hollywood with the filming of Eat, Pray, Love....Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem have been munching on the same salad greens as you!

That's right...Island Organics is what the movie stars choose!

As well as YOGINIS and RAW food addicted folks at Radiantly Alive's retreat up in UBUD.

Between the 2 busy events...we have been kept very busy harvesting, nota writing and money collecting. That's what you do, right?

We were able to fit in a sales team farm visit this past saturday...we munched our way around the farm, tricking each other into eating the spicyest mustard leaves by calling them "manis" and filling our bellies with raw sweet corn and lot's of Italian Basil for NOLI.

We are still working on our systems, getting it all in working order...we already have a new pricelist update with small changes happening daily to help us, you and Nuade.

We are really excited to start doing our farm visits and work parties "get dirty" is our motto. Hoping to begin doing those next month or sooner if the interest arises.

Also MAY 2010 will be the start of FIREFLY in baturiti.

keep checking back for more new and exciting info...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009



Monday deliveries to Southern Bali
orders must be placed by friday 12pm

Wednesday deliveries to Ubud Area
orders must be places by monday 12pm

Friday deliveries to Southern Bali
orders must be placed by wednesday 12pm

Please place your orders with NINGSIH:
0361 461 978

Island Organics is coming home...

Yup...that's right... Island Organics will become part of Big Tree Farms once again.

When we started this crazy farming thing way back in was all we did and then we realized if we ever wanted to send our kids to school or visit our families in the US...there had to be something else...That was the birth of Big Tree Farms.

BTF was born and became a monster, as any new baby sort of is, and Island Organics started going through that jealousy thing that some older siblings have. IO started recreating itself under many new names and and forms and always sort of saying "here i am" but, never actually getting the full attention. Then it almost had to die to make us see that if we still wanted to eat the best produce on the island we would have to give some love and attention to big sister farm.

We could not give up our beloved misticanza salad or our super-charged kale and chard...therefore, here we are again.

BTF will manage accounting, logistics and sales and we will leave the farming part to the people who do it best...THE FARMERS.

We have new seeds, a larger community of farmers and excited people handling every aspect of our operations.

We look forward to supplying you healthy and happy vegetables, farm dinners, and get dirty work parties ( as in mud dirty up at the farm). More info will follow...

Hope to see or hear from you all soon!