May 02 2011
Reading through the newly-published Kids in Bali book which I reviewed here, I stumbled across The Organic Farm Bali and thought it would make a good spot to take the kids.
We initially tried to stay overnight last Saturday, but a ceremony at Munduk Lumbang, the village the farm calls home, meant no one would be available to host us, so we instead drove up for the day on Sunday — with four other cars of parents and kids. I nervously but successfully headed the convoy.
Turns out we six adults and um, I think about 10 kids aged 4 and under, were the largest group that gracious Marjan and Wayan and their team have so far welcomed to their pretty, two-year-old farm (with last Christmas day trailing behind us).
We gathered around the tables, staff whisking babies out of tired mothers’ arms, and looked out onto the narrow edge of the farm, as staff served us local plunger coffee with delectable fresh coconut palm sugar, mint tea, water infused with mint and lime and Bedugal cookies.
It had been a long trip: following the clear directions on their website, we drove from Sanur along Subroto to get to the main Bedugal road. We took the longer, straighter way, and it ended up taking just over 2.5 hours. (Coming back took an hour and 45 minutes.)
Then we were off for a tour of the farm, a sprawling three-hectare affair, where so far a half-dozen chefs from top restaurants in Bali have rented plots to grow their own produce, among them Sardine.
Marjan jokes that she isn’t a farmer, and doesn’t like to cook, but she likes to eat, so the set-up is attractive for all involved: chefs get complete control over what they grow and how they do it (organically, of course) while Marjan and Wayan get to eat at least some of the harvest. Read more about the background of the farm here.
In fact it was the chefs wanting somewhere to stay that led to two “pondoks” or bungalows being built on the farm, where visitors can now also sleep for the night. The bamboo and tile affairs are basic but perfectly adequate – there are no showers, but nearby hot springs are where you head instead. We found the hike to the more secluded pondok enough of a walk with the kids so didn’t see the springs this time — but we shall be back.
The farm is at an altitude of about 700 metres, meaning it gets chilly at night. The more secluded pondok, The Bale, has a double deckchair that looks out onto hills patchworked with pumpkins, zucchinis, herbs, lettuce, spinach and an array of other produce. When night falls, staff will help build a roaring bonfire and you can toast marshmellows. If you’re coming with kids, they’ll pitch a tent for them to sleep in.
After playing spot the guava, pineapple, papaya and banana (which our city slicker kids pretty much miserably failed — another reason to head back) — we returned to the restaurant, where a steaming sweet pumpkin and celery soup awaited us, with fresh bread from Bedugal. This was followed by a plate of honest garden-fresh greens with a tasty spinach omelette and chunks of organic chicken. And yes, you can taste the difference.
Dessert was bananas simmered in an absolutely delectable palm sugar and citrus syrup with a scoop of chocolate ice cream, followed by more coffee to get us through the ride home.
A large coop on the farm is home to several guinea fowls, turkeys, ducks and rabbits, which the kids fed before having a poke at the tadpoles in the fish pond. We also popped over to the local neighbour’s house to see a real charcoal kitchen, complete with blackened smoked corn on the cob hanging overhead, as well as nesting hens and their chicks, before feeding the farm animals and having a poke at the tadpoles in the fishpond.
This was a lot of driving for a day trip, but the truly scrumptious food, cool weather and hospitality made it worthwhile. If you’re up for a day trip from the south (Seminyak is a bit closer as a departure point) I’d suggest tying a visit in with a drive through the World Heritage-listed Jati Luwih rice paddies.
Actually, I’d suggest staying over, splurging on The Bale (though the second offering, The Pondok, is adequate, it doesn’t come close to the seclusion and views of the former), trying out the bonfire and marshmellows, taking a dip in those hot springs (which we can’t yet vouch for ourselves), and also trying to stop to pick up some of the local coffee and sugar (which we can) to bring back with you as a souvenir. I’m not exaggerating when I say this was the best local coffee I’ve had in Bali during three years on the island, and the best coconut palm sugar.
This is a trip totally off the tourist trail, but catering for Western visitors. Highly recommended. Our lunch and tour was 100,000 rupiah per adult and 50,000 per child.
The Organic Farm Bali
Munduk Lumbang village
Wayan Sukerta: (0813) 3894 3030
Marjan van Ravenzwaaij: (0813) 5337 6905
* These photos were taken on a camera that is about to be retired. Apologies for their crappiness.
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