Bali’s rise into a recreational paradise in the 1970s was truly a game changer – especially for its residents. It didn’t take long before tourism became the island’s main industry.
Hotels were built, attractions appeared and expanded, ports grew larger and got busier, and so on. As always, with progress comes compromises. Sadly, most of Bali took it at the core of its culture: their agriculture. Other than farming is not seen as profitable or modern, less and less of the young generation are interested in working the fields. Meanwhile the soil and biodiversity’s health also receded after years of malnutrition, mistreatment, and pushed away by the concrete buildings. But what if we could combine the best of both worlds?
In comes Astungkara Way. Their mission is to bring back farming as an integral part of the culture as well as its function in the ecosystem. To achieve this goal, they will go through three activities:
- Courses that expose local and international learners to regenerative agriculture.
- Building a network of learning hubs on Bali and engaging with farmers who are taking regenerative action on their island.
- Strengthening said network by building a coast-to-coast pilgrimage in Bali called the Astungkara Trail.
Not only is this ambitious goal intriguing, but in 2020 they have already started early by opening the Regenerative Farming Learning Center. The first of many in the future, the RFLC in Abiansemal is also the starting point for one of their most interesting programs: the Astungkara Trail. This last project is what will define Astungkara Way as a new alternative to sustainable tourism, as it takes visitors to slow down, to take notice, to connect with nature and local communities that live in simple, sustainable ways. It is the first, and the only 10-days coast-to-coast experience in Bali.
In the long run, Astungkara Way also aims to bring back the youth into the fields for a long lasting and sustainable agriculture. Founder Tim Fijal has a decade long experience with both younger audience and the agriculture world. He was the director of Kul Kul Connection, the community bridging program owned by Green School, where he introduce foreigners to the wonders of the rice cycle. His work there brought him to meet the local farmers, which then became the foundation for Astungkara Way.
As of now, Astungkara Way has already run full curriculum courses for gap year students, primary and middle schoolers – including local students on scholarships. Together with the farmers, they have planted considerable amount of agroforest. Just this June, slots for their first commercial Astungkara Trail had opened. Everything is looking good for the mission.
A mix between learning about sustainability and witnessing the best of our nature. We can’t wait to experience it ourselves.