Separated by the sea, Nusa Lembongan has been even more on the fringe during the pandemic than mainland Bali. Idyllic island getaways, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan have always depended on visitors, with tourism the main source of income for the local community; sadly, up to 95% of the businesses on the island closed through the pandemic, creating a rise in vulnerable communities. In response, Bali Children Foundation developed a community garden to create a longterm solution to aid the food security of the Lembongan locals.

Bali Children Foundation was established in 2002 to provide education and empowerment to Bali’s disadvantaged communities. The organisation was founded by Margaret Barry, OAM, DSJ, after the first Bali Bombings, who believed that  the tragedy was a consequence of poverty and inadequate educational opportunities.

Over the last 20 years, Bali Children Foundation has worked across Bali — especially the far reaches, like the east and north regions — to provide educational programs from Grades 1 to 12, scholarships for tertiary studies, pathways to employment, assist in disaster situations and create sustainable education solutions post-disaster.

The pandemic can surely be defined as a disaster and as such the foundation had its work cut out for them, with more people made vulnerable island-wide and less funding from local businesses to help in operational costs.

Nonetheless, Bali Children Foundation pushed through and turned their services to providing the most immediate need, food supplies. Many of the foundation’s communities were badly affected, having worked in already marginalised areas.

Nusa Lembongan was one such region that felt the impacts of the pandemic, with 95% of the businesses closing as tourists gates remained shut. Thus, an immediate response to this was to provide food: the foundation, along with The Lembongan Traveller, worked with 10 banjars (villages) across Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan to facilitate distribution to those most in need. Since October 2021, they have distributed a total of 4,800 food packages and 1,000 cooked meals. The foundation also continued their education program, improving their library and literacy programs.

However, knowing that food provisions required constant donations, the foundation and its partners developed a more longterm plan, creating a compost and community garden.

Lembongan Community Garden

Established in November 2021, the community garden is found inside the Lembongan Recycle Center. For anyone who has been to the island before will know that much of the bedrock is limestone, the land is dry and arid. With traditional crop farming difficult on the island, the local community also have little experience.

Nonetheless, the first step was to improve the soil  quality, which started with a composting initiative where the community bring their food waste and the centre would process this to become quality compost. Four months later, the compost has been able to make the land fertile and rich in nutrients. 

Since January, the garden has been producing abundant harvests of cucumbers, shallots, long beans, groundnuts, chillies, and various leafy vegetables. The project is proving to be an effective step in providing sustainable food for the unemployed.

Bali Children Foundation worked alongside experts, such as urban biologist Pak Buya from Bali Urban Compost and Pak Priyatna from Siki Permakultur.

Dave Clarkson of Projects for Hope has also been involved in the garden project. With Dave’s support and dedication, they have installed two 5,000 L water tanks and irrigation pipes across the garden and a CCTV camera to provide a live view of the garden activity.

This is a longterm project that is set to benefit Nusa Lembongan beyond pandemic, with businesses and households able to participate in effective food waste management, using it to benefit the compost program. Further to that, the centre will become an invaluable learning centre for children and families to explore how permaculture can benefit this exceptionally dry island. 

You can donate to the Lembongan Community Garden and compost centre here:

NOW Bali Editorial Team

NOW Bali Editorial Team

This article has been written or uploaded by NOW! Bali's in-house editorial team.