Where Peppercorns Come FromIn the hills behind the village of Muntok, on the Indonesian island of Bangka, pepper farmers climb traditional bamboo tripods and hand-pickfruit spikes of red ripe pepper berries. Then, the fruit spikes are packed into rice sacks and soaked in slow running streams of water that come down off the mountains above.
A week later, the outermost skin of the pepper has disintegrated and the peppercorns are piled together for a traditional trampling, called "nari mereca" or the Pepper Dance.
This dance separates the peppercorns from the fruit spike, and then, after a final washing, the berries are left to dry in the sun where they will bleach to a whitish-cream.
Artisan's StoryBig Tree Farm is an eco-farm model that has minimal obstacles to market entry, requires no expensive inputs of the kind often found in conventional agriculture, and provides real profit margins, Big Tree Farms has been able to offer the power of choiceto the marginalized farmers of Indonesia.
In early June of 2000, Blair and Ben Ripple dug deep into Bali's rich volcanic soil and pulled out a handful of creamy white new potatoes. It was the first harvest for Big Tree Farms. Since those first humble beginnings, Big Tree Farms has developed to become the premier producer of sustainably grown produce in Indonesia.
Now, over ten acres of land in the jungle highlands yield more than eighty different crops that are harvested daily, year-round, in the wee hours of the morning, when ghostly clouds roll through the mountainous forest and the night crickets fill the air with a melodious symphony.
The vision of Big Tree Farms was to create a model for successful, small-scale sustainable agriculturein the humid tropics. In many of the poorer developing countries, the present farm situation is no-win. On one side, conventional, high-input agriculture, extolled by almost every government in the world for its high yields and quick crop turnovers, is far too expensive for small farmers to maintain in the developing world. As a result, these same farmers have been forced to follow the old ways. But while traditional agriculture is often an incredibly graceful balance between humans and nature, is usually too far removed from the realities of a market economy to make its farmers successful.
Finding a way out of this paradox was Big Tree Farms' inspiration.
With a philosophy that balances ecology with economy and values the power of education as the precipitator of change, Big Tree Farms has become not only a successful "green" business, but also a successful leader in the empowerment of local communities.(Background info from bigtreebali.com.)
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