The Learning Farm, Indonesia

Established in 2005, The Learning Farm (TLF) is a residential organic farm in West Java that runs a 100 day training program for street kids and other vulnerable youth. Each intake selects forty young men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds for a life-transforming, four month stay.

Student in an organic farming class at The Learning Farm, Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia. Photo: H. DjoyobisonoOfficially known as the Karang Widya Foundation, TLF's highly acclaimed program originates with the Boston-based World Education Organisation. Founder Jiway Tung envisioned the farm as a way  to address lack of skills, opportunities, and hope among young Indonesians from a diverse range of cultural, educational and religious backgrounds who are at risk of being trapped in a cycle of poverty, religious radicalisation, drugs, crime and HIV/AIDS.

Combining organic farming with learning programs in communications, health and computers, TLF equips participants with tangible, marketable skills through working in a purposeful, communal environment. With additional guidance on employment opportunities and enterprise development, alumni emerge from the program economically self-sufficient, capable, and productive members of their communities.

Location

The Learning Farm is located at the Maleber Tea Plantation in the rural district of Cipanas, 1300m above sea level and 86 km south-east of Jakarta, where a beautiful old building houses office, meeting/teaching spaces, student accommodation and kitchen/dining area – all surrounded by plantations and mountains. Just 3 km away, Cipanas village (the administrative centre of the district) has a population of approximately 15,000. A mountain tourism area popular with backpackers, Cipanas offers astoundingly beautiful scenery and plenty of leisure activities, including hiking, para-gliding, camping, cycling, and off-road sports. There are lots of local attractions: Cibodas Botanical Garden, waterfalls, colourful lakes, and the Taman Bunga Nusantara flower park.

Assistance requested

TLF staff members require additional training, advisory support, and facilitation across a number of specialist areas. With ages ranging from 15-24, participants of TLF present a number of challenges, often with bad habits and fragile emotional conditions, sometimes exhibiting antisocial behaviour, substance abuse, and problems operating in groups. Whilst many of the requisite skills do exist in Indonesia, cost is a factor and many skilled Indonesians consider the location too far from major metropolitan areas.

Impact

Through the Australian Volunteers program, an Australian Government initiative, TLF staff have been supported with psychosocial & mental health facilitation, English language programs for staff and youth participants, and program development. The TLF program has produced over 700 alumni with transformed values, outlook, and expectations of self and community, and were the 2015 UID-SDSN Indonesia Solutions Initiative Award winners for best creative sustainable ideas in Indonesia.