New Agrarian Voices

Lukman, APPRENTICE, James Ranch, CO

First Month Reflection

My name is Lukman and I am from a small village in West Borneo, Indonesia. I grew up in a nomadic subsistence farming family. We moved our farm field from one place to another every year and then came back to the same place about every 5 years. But for the last 15 years farming for my family has changed because of the introduction of industrialized plantations for palm oil trees in my village. Almost all the villagers lost their land because they sold their land to the palm oil corporations to get easy money. They didn’t realize after years of operation the palm oil industry would destroy the jungle, the land, the water, our way of life, and our culture. The palm oil companies cleared the biodiverse jungle with all of its many plants, animals, and other biotic communities and replaced it with one single plant: the palm oil tree. Villagers shifted their activities from subsistence farming to working for the palm oil companies. I realized this has to change and that I have a duty to be a part of the change. To do so, I studied environmental studies in college with a hope of learning more about the importance of our environment, culture, and people.

I am interested in agriculture because my people’s way of life, my people’s culture, and my people’s future has been destroyed by industrial agriculture. I want to learn more about the best ways to work with our environment without destroying it. Through my degree, I had the opportunity to learn more about agriculture and different agricultural practices in the U.S. I hope I can continue to learn more about land management, animal management, and cheesemaking through this apprenticeship.

In the future, I would like to go back to my home town in Borneo and help the villagers understand the importance of our environment and our way of life. To do so, I would like to show and teach them what I learned in school, combined with what I learned in this apprenticeship. I would also like to start my own agricultural business. In Borneo, I would like to have a rice field, a tropical fruit orchard and a farm with some small animals such as goats, chickens, and pigs. I would make this a sustainable farm by letting the animals graze under the fruit trees.

This apprenticeship at the James Ranch is so valuable to me because I have the opportunity to see how farming, land and animal management, cheese making, markets and restaurants, and other aspects of sustainable agriculture can all work together successfully.

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