The need for the self-contained family farming community is all the more evident after seeing places where it still persists.
Farming villages and small towns used to be the norm in the U.S. until the population started moving away from the farm and toward the city. Those farms that do remain are often enormous and blanketed with genetically modified corn and soy.But such a self-contained farming community does still exist here in the tiny community of Tetebatu on the Indonesian island of Lombok, just an hour away from Bali.
Rice Varieties in Tetebatu
We scrambled to catch up with our slight guide as he gracefully balanced on the perches that separated the rice fields. Every few steps I’d lose my balance and bury my shoe in the supping rice mud to the left and right of the perch. The village had several varieties of rice that served a different purpose. The harder varieties were grown for everyday use and the more expensive black rice variety was used on special occasions to make rice wine and rice pudding.
The villagers were surprised by the hair on my friend’s face and the light color of our skin -- both qualities that they had rarely seen. They giggled at us as we attempted to beat the rice from the stalk mostly unsuccessfully, a task normally done after the rice is harvested from the fields.
Eating From the Land
The village made its own coffee directly from the trees on the farm and then roasted it with coconut to make some of the most delicious coffee I’d ever had. Meals also included coconut, mango, avocado, papaya, and durian from trees that dotted the land. They cultivated peppers, long beans, tobacco, and various other crops to support the community.
Only a few varieties of rice as well as the tobacco ever even left the farm. Cows were eaten on very special occasions and chickens clucked around the farm freely until their unlucky day finally came.
While undoubtedly the village was poor, the people weren’t unhappy. This simple existence revolved around a strong sense of community and a dependance on their neighbor for survival. There’s little need to buy anything and little access even if you wanted to. No one is over weight as their food is naturally additive-free and no day will ever be spent behind a desk.
This sort of lifestyle for the most part no longer exists in the U.S. because “modern conveniences” have removed the need for the village.
But has it really? It seems unlikely that we’ll ever return to the self-contained village, but after having spent days living in a working village, you can’t help but see its benefits. It showed me how working together to produce your own food with very little need for money, may be what we’re missing in our fast-paced world of over consumption. And how even if my sense of home may not be so remote, it can still be a simple community, producing its necessities close to home.