Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 6, 2010 Manggis, Bali: The Organic Garden

I signed up for a second cooking class on our last full day in Bali. Ben and Stephanie had taken off on July 5th to adventure on their own, with plans to go to Lombok, a mostly-Muslim island a few hours away by boat, and then onto one of Lombok’s tiny off shore islands called Gili Air.

Our teacher, as with the previous class, was the executive chef of the hotel, Nyoman Santika. This time, rather than being taught at the hotel, the class was given on the site of the hotel’s small organic garden, a beautiful plot of land not far from the hotel.

My eight cooking mates were all Australian, six of them from one family. We were a very congenial group.

We were met at the entrance to the garden by the head gardener, Pak Sugita, whose spirit of welcome permeates the place. He showed us around his garden which grows lots of the roots used in Bumbu Bali as well as Kemangi (lemon basil) and purple basil, pandan (a leaf that is used as a flavoring in sweet dishes), mint, eggplant, corn, peppers, peanuts and a cinnamon tree. Thankfully there were many painted signs saying what was growing. The hotel uses as much as the garden can produce and has aspirations to increase the size of the property as it becomes available.

 Because it is adjacent to rice fields which receive significant doses of chemicals during the growing season, there is always danger that some of the water which floods these paddies will seep into the ground water and affect the organic garden. There is not much that Pak or the hotel can do until the awareness of the benefits of “organic” becomes more prevalent.

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