Ubud is quite well known as the place to be for the yoga aficionado and healthy life enthusiasts. As one of the results, restaurants and little shops stamped ‘organic’ are filling up its street and busy corners. I can’t escape the feeling that it might just be gimmicks, proved to be working at its best for consumerism. I might be right until I stumbled into Sari Organic and had a lively chat with Ibu Nila, one of its owners.
Ibu Sari Nila, Sari Organic – Ubud
After 25 years of an adventurous life outside Bali, she returns home circa 2000. Much to her surprise, many things have changed in the way Balinese farmers live. They use a lot of chemicals to make their crop grows bigger and faster. “Kamu juga cepet matinya!” was her mild comment about the custom. Refused to be in the main stream, she started to cultivate her little borrowed land like in the old days, with no chemicals involved. She says, in the end it was so rewarding to harvest something that you plant yourself.
Back then, most of the products were for her personal consumption and sold some of it. Few of her expat friends also asked her to cook at their home. Then she gained recognition for producing fresh organic vegetables and good at processing them in the kitchen. Ideas came, she then open a small warung called Bodag Maliah. But now, nothing small can be said about her warung. Its seated among rice fields, with natural design that makes you feel right at home. Or should I say, a home with a good food supply :D.
When she saw my friends and me fascinated by her story, she invited us to visit her garden and house just across the street of her restaurant. She sometimes stops at one of the tree, picked the leaves or the beans and told us the story of that particular item. ‘Try this. This is what I used to make my humus, instead of chickpeas. You can eat it raw” she said that while she ate the green beans. We then made another 2-3 stops, and everytime she would pick it up, ate it, and offered it to us so we experienced it ourselves. With subtlety, she influenced us with her love for fresh food. She won me over raw wasabi. “This is wasabi?” i pointed to an-unimpressive-looking-short-plant. Not explaining much, she grabbed a couple of leaves and gave them to us. It was surprisingly better tasted than any other wasabi I’ve ever had.
I found out later that at her territory, the purpose of plants is not limited to just food. She uses ‘klerek’ (soap nuts), to wash her dishes. And who needs hair conditioner when she has plenty of Kembang sepatu (hibiscus) at her front door. She then gave us Sambiloto leaves. She said that it was good for the skin, cleansed blood circulation, and healed any sore throat. I was quick to eat it after she mentioned about the skin, to regret the second after I tasted how bitter it was.
And we were again amazed when she showed us her little biogas plant to accrue methane from her cow’s waste. She has been self sufficient in providing gas for her home’s cooking stove. And her plan doesn’t stop there. She mentioned future plan of having bigger setup so she can provide cooking gas to her restaurant. Amazing!
Going back from her place, I appreciate my short encounter with Ibu Nila. For she showed me that her passion runs deep than just an organic stamp and how her full devotion into everything she has on her land proved to give her so much more in return. Like how she named her warung, Bodag Maliah which means overflowing basket.