Road Trip to Regreen Bali

Kadek Gunarta tends to his newest children: 5,000 bamboo plants

Kadek Gunarta tends to his newest children: 5,000 bamboo plants

Having fun and doing good…That’s a lesson I’ve learned from Kadek Gunarta.  I joined Dek and his team from Bali Regreen on a road trip to a very poor village in north Bali where they are helping to improve the welfare of hundreds of families.

Dek talking to the head of one of the banjar's at Songket B

Dek talking to the head of one of the banjar’s at Songket B

The Bali Regreen Project is led by Dek and sponsored by the Bali Spirit Festival Team.  It’s mission is to help improve the lives of villagers by helping them plant and then maintain and harvest bamboo which can be used for village ceremonies and as a cash crop.  Also, replanting hillsides destroyed by lava flows and erosion helps to markedly improve the environment.

Dek with Ketut one of the Bali Regreen community organizers and Supardi from Kompos Pedang Tegal.

Dek with Ketut one of the Bali Regreen community organizers and Supardi from Kompos Pedang Tegal.

But the Regreen Project is as much about community organizing and empowerment as it is about planting.  Dek and his team work closely with village leaders and farmers to plan the project, implement it and to maintain it.  Dek’s Team provides the expertise on how to plant and maintain bamboo, and works closely with farmers over many months and years.  The villagers contribute some funding for the projects, but most importantly provide the loving care to the bamboo that it needs to grow.

In addition to bamboo, the Regreen Project recently helped the Songket B villagers build a 9.6 km water pipeline to serve their village.  One of the main reasons that this village is so poor is that it lacks adequate water supplies.  There has been only 8 liters of water per day per household which is barely enough for drinking and washing with no water available to raise livestock or anything else.  Dek put together a plan that included finding a water source, pumps, pipes, water storage, construction and maintenance.  The pipeline was built in less than a month, and is now supplying water.  When I asked how the water supply has changed their lives, one woman replied that now her family has enough water for everyone to have a bath, and she’s bought some pigs and other livestock which will add to the family’s income.

Taking a bath with water from new water pipe built by Bali Regreen

Taking a bath with water from new water pipe built by Bali Regreen

Of course no Balinese road trip would be complete without a lot of joking and eating.  We made at least 3 stops for food at delicious local warungs and ended the day with a feast of Durian, the first time I ate this pungent fruit.

The mighty, fun-loving team from Bali Regreen

The mighty, fun-loving team from Bali Regreen

Regreening Bali: One Bamboo at a Time

Murni Plantiing Bamboo in Songam Village

Murni Planting Bamboo in Songan Village

Many families in Songan Village B will get a lift out of poverty thanks to the efforts of Kadek Gunarta of the Bali Regreen project, and his team of skilled community organizers and agricultural experts.

 Bali Regreen will plant more than 4,000 bamboo shoots donated by the good people of John Hardy Silver in Songan Village B.  In seven years, the bamboo will grown into stalks wide enough to sale at the market.  This is a huge opportunity for the farmers here who scratch out a living from the dry soil.

Sonang Village B farmers

Songan Village B farmers

Even before seven years, farmers will reap benefits.  Village leaders estimated they purchase about $3,000 a year of bamboo for ceremonies and other uses which soon will be avoided costs.

This program is much more than planting bamboo.  It takes a whole village to keep this crop alive.  Bali Regreen organized a seminar with the local farmers to teach them how to grow and maintain the plants.  BR staff will check on the plants monthly, and provide ongoing seminars for the farmers.

Dhemy Revving Up the Crowd

Dhemy Revving Up the Crowd

A group of about 30 volunteers from Bali Spirit Festival, Yoga Barn and John Hardy helped with the planting.  Some were better at it than others. At the end of the day, there were thanks all around.

Weak, but enthusiastic

Weak, but enthusiastic

New Zealander Andy with new friend

New Zealander Andy with new friend

John Hardy crew

John Hardy crew