Helping A Social Enterprise At Risks

Our project in Indonesia with a leading Singaporean University NTU, to help support “The Learning Farm”

Every year, the School of Communication and Information of NTU organises a field trip around “Sustainability & Risks”. The main purpose is to make the students understand some of the key environmental sustainability issues in South East Asia through content media creation. This year, we brought 12 students and 2 Professors to ‘The Learning Farm’, a NGO based in West Java, Indonesia that needs some help to acquire a bigger farm.

During one week fieldwork project, the students develop content and stories highlighting sustainability risks as well as positive stories of a grassroots NGO / Social Enterprise in the region that is tacking issues.

Having already created content for The Learning Farm in the past, we thought it would be an amazing opportunity for the NTU students to interact with locals and create content media in an incredible farming context.

Video created by Jacqui and Gone Adventurin’ in 2014

01. Our connection with The Learning Farm

Established in 2005, The Learning Farm is a Social Enterprise that uses medium of organic farming to tackle environmental pollution, the future of food, lack of equal opportunities and rapid urban migration through inspiring and empowering vulnerable youth across Indonesia to become independent, environmentally-conscious social entrepreneurs.

Their mission is to educate youth on environment and sustainability challenges, offer equal learning opportunities for youth — especially women, organic farming activities — such as business development and marketing with supermarket and local grocery chains, youth training and community development programs.

Over the years, they developed two different programs — basic and advanced — that welcomes more than 40 students every 15 weeks and that focuses on life skills, organic farming, English and Computer literacy.

This year, The Learning Farm needed help to develop a strong communication strategy for several reasons: to raise funds for further impact (e.g. finance the opening of the new farm as they need to move to a larger space); to strengthen program quality and reach; to lay the foundations for the Advanced Program.

During a week, the students created content media that will eventually be used by The Learning Farm. Through their hard work and, the students impacted the future of the social enterprise that is at risks.

“It was a great trip, and I know it was a valuable learning experience for the students.”

Sonny Rosenthal, Assistant Professor NTU SCI

02. The Social Impact we made

During 7 days, we helped the students to interact with locals (students from the farm, staff, alumni from the farm, Indonesian communities); to create content media (videos, pictures, interviews) that will be used by The Learning Farm; and to better understand key sustainability issues.

We stayed 4 days at the farm where we followed the lives of the Learning farm students from day until dawn.

“It was an amazing experience and the sincerity of the people at TLF motivated me to push myself harder in creating media content.”

Kevin Koh, NTU Student

It’s really important to maintain a tight schedule for the students so as they can have structure and landmarks.

Every morning, The Learning Farm students wake up at 4am, pray; clean the dormitory / kitchen / bathrooms; eat their breakfasts and gather in the field for the ‘Morning Ceremony’. During the ceremony, students are in circle and start by singing two symbolic songs, then do some stretching and finally, exchange on what they learnt the day before. Then, they spend the rest of the morning doing farming activities: Planting, Harvesting, Feeding the animals, Making some beds for future plantations. In the afternoon, they have English and Computer classes taught by volunteers.

When we were at the farm, Cara McHardy was volunteering as an English teacher. Her life was fascinating. After having spent more than 20 years of her life in the USA without travelling, she decided to join a sail boat that was sailing around the Pacific islands. When we met her, she just arrived from Jakarta after having travelled by cargo-ship from Papua New Guinea.

Cara, the Engish Volunteer and the students

Besides our days at the farm, we also visited some alumni who studied at the farm in the late 2010s. The first alumni we met had an unconventional career path. At the farm, he discovered the passion of cooking and was offered a baker position in a bakery owned by Rella, wife of one of The Learning Farm Board Members. Santibi, a former Learning Farm student became a successful baker, managing a team of more than 10 people at Rella’s Kitchen.

“The Learning Farm is a truly inspiring place where we can observe and experience the positive changes made to vulnerable Indonesian youths.”

Kay HyeKyung — Assistant Professor NTU SCI

The Second alumni we met in Cisarua created in 2013 a ‘Zero Waste Management’ System benefiting more than 600 households. The aim of the system is to motivate communities to recycle their waste and then sort it out into 2 different categories: non organic trash and organic trash. The latteris used to make compost and to grow some vegetables. The communities welcomed us in their houses, offered us some Indonesian specialties and gave us some love.

Left: Santibi from farming student to successful baker; Right: The communities in Cisarua

After having visiting the students at The Farm, the alumni, we then took the students into a fancy French restaurant called Amuz where they use the products from the farm. The French Chef — Gilles Marx, specially prepared a menu for us, including products from the farm. That experience was unique because we tasted refined meal with vegetables harvested at the farm where we just spent the first part of the week!

Gilles Marx — Chef at Amuz

Finally, we discovered the Indonesian culture through the Sundanese food and the various treks we did in the remote tea plantations and in the National Park of Cibodas at the edge of the Mount Gede (the biggest in the region).

Students from NTU & The Learning Farm on our last day at the farm

Overall, this experience has not only been valuable for the NTU students -who got introduced to a new culture and country; who interacted with locals from their age in an unconventional farming context; and who learnt about sustainability issues and how to communicate about them — but also for The Learning Farm itself who will benefit from incredible media content created by the NTU students.

We, as well as The Learning Farm are looking forward to seeing the final impact the NTU students will make.

Credits Video and Credits cover photo — Jacqui Hocking — Co-founder / Creative Director at Gone Adventurin’

Credits photo and Article written by Paula Miquelis — Project Manager at Gone Adventurin’

Ashwin Subramaniam
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