Thriving at the Farm: Nurturing Indonesia’s youth

Shubhpreet Kaur
Troubled Indonesian youths work hard in the fields, exercise responsibility and have fun at the Learning Farm in West Java.

A seed is a tiny, yet incredible thing. It has the capacity to transform into something so much bigger than itself, to provide food, shade and even the air we breathe. 

But even the toughest seeds need nature to nurture it with sunlight, water and the right kind of soil.

There’s a place in Indonesia where the youth have a particularly strong understanding of this sort of nurturing.

Coming from various challenging backgrounds, these youths learn life lessons by having nature as their teacher at the Learning Farm in Cianjur, West Java.

The 15-week program gives the youngsters – often coming in because of drugs, poverty or religious radicalization – a chance to find their balance, through learning new skills and increasing their self-esteem.

The Learning Farm, in effect, encourages them to plant seeds of change.

Up by 5am and at hard at work in the fields by 7am, some hands that once held guns now hold gardening tools, with a focus on caring for some of nature’s more fragile members.

After lunch and some rest, they study English and get lessons on organic farming.

And after dinner, the youths spend time with mentors or work on creative handicrafts before turning in. Volunteers also visit to share with them everything from first aid to hip hop moves.

The full day provides these unlikely gardeners the chance to learn, exercise responsibility and even have fun.

And as they nurture the plants, they nurture themselves.

The best part about seeds is when they grow and eventually sprout.

And so it is with the Learning Farm’s graduates, 90% of whom move into more meaningful and positive chapters of their lives after the farming stint.

Some find employment, others go back to school to finish their education, and a few start their own businesses.

Just like a seed needs the right conditions to develop, sometimes all we need is a good, nurturing environment, to bloom.

You can help in planting the change! If you’re keen to donate, purchase their products, offer your skills by volunteering, or want to sponsor a programme, get in touch with The Learning Farm. –

This story is brought to you by Our Better World – telling stories to inspire good, an initiative of the Singapore International Foundation. 

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