Bali’s mouth-watering restaurants highlight the natural abundance of this land. With so many spots offering farm-to-table meals and organic produce, we are too happy fill our bellies, but we don’t often wonder how the food got onto our plate. The Kul Kul family farm in Bali provides this missing link, opening up their magical organic farm for visitors, with the goal of reconnecting us to the land as well as our food. Kul Kul’s philosophy is also found in the heart of Balinese culture – to Iive in community, unity and diversity, and in doing so improve the lives of all.
Founded 7 years ago, Kul-Kul in Bahasa refers to the hollow echoing sound that bamboo makes when tapped. The founders of Kul Kul worked directly with Bill Mollison, the international Australian grandfather of tropical permaculture design. Any offshoot of permaculture design today stems from the work Bill did back in the 70’s. Bill believed that any permaculture design should have at least three different uses, making design more efficient and less wasteful. You can see this reflected in Kul Kul’s design, which despite being strategically planned is still dreamy and peaceful. The farm is dotted with open-air bamboo structures that host hands-on workshops for visitors. The class offering ranges from permaculture courses and plant medicine to eco-construction, and each course is created around concepts that are sustainable and regenerative.
Kul Kul is located next to the famous Green School in Bali and was founded by Orin Hardy, who also happens to be the son of John Hardy (the founder of the Green School). Orin has a beautiful outlook to life, and he participates fully in the daily running of the farm.
“Most people want to be good people—they want to make the world a better place but feel disempowered. It is our hope that people come here and leave with a sense of inspiration and feel empowered to make their dreams possible in relation to sustainable agriculture, permaculture and in relation to making the world a better place.” -ORIN HARDY
Apart from food and farming, Kul Kul offer a special perspective on building with bamboo. The workshop programs are designed by IBUKU, a sustainable bamboo architecture studio directed by his sister Elora, who has spoken at Ted and leads the studio’s forward vision. IBUKA designed the Moon House at Bamboo Indah and also the spa at Permata Ayung Estate, not to mention many more hotspots in Singapore and Hong Kong, all constructed with cutting-edge bamboo designs.
Kul-Kul creates programs that focus on innovation and leadership, often solving real-life problems in Bali. For example, their recent workshop on bamboo craft had the goal to innovate a design for a coconut sugar processing plant that was going to be built on the farm. After participants presented a brief with a scaled model for the judges, two winning designs were selected and combined to create a huge floor plan with leaf-shaped roof. Practical issues are also considered, such as designing within budget and with volunteer builders in mind – this particular design could be easily made by the 37 workshop participants. This real-life application with solid theory is what sets Kul Kul apart from other farm visits and tourism in Bali.
Kul Kul grows almost everything you can find on the island, in a small, experimental scale. Permaculture food farming means that instead of single-crop rows, the plants mix and mingle together, creating a natural, layered effect. This philosophy imitates natures own intelligent design, appearing like wild tropical forest. While it might look accidental, the gardens are built to “flow”, meaning collaborative species protect each other naturally, without the need to add pesticides. For example, the leaves of the tall yucca free will shade light-sensitive berries on the forest floor, and neighboring garlic plants will keep invasive bugs away without chemicals.
Kul Kul wants to spread these teachings to Bali dwellers, showing us that traditional landscaped gardens in villas can be replaced by edibles for easy meal-prep, like basil, lemongrass and turmeric, not to mention planting fauna that attracts desirable wildlife. Who doesn’t want a garden with colorful butterflies and honey bees? This romantic way of thinking feels fresh and smart, and so easy to apply in everyday life. You can take a jalan-jalan (walking) tour around Kul Kul on Mondays directly from the co-founder, Maria Farrugia, as well as experience a true off-the-farm lunch.