Hendro Trihatmojo, a 2017 ASC intern and MESA exchange candidate, came from Indonesia to learn sustainable agricultural practices here at the Rodale Institute. He will be living at the Institute until November.
MESA, the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture, is sponsoring Hendro’s training. Their organization takes people from around the world and matches them with training in the United States on either organic or sustainable farms. As an ASC intern, Trihatmojo has been working in the morning at the greenhouse, in the cold frames, and in the high tunnels. He also does weeding, and has been learning tractor training and row planting.
“I know Rodale from my sponsor, MESA. I read about Rodale’s Vegetable Systems Trial and Farming Systems Trial and realized I must take the chance to be an intern at Rodale Institute.”
Trihatmojo, who has a bachelor degree in agriculture, works as a farmer on a 5-acre conventional farm. He hopes to bring back the knowledge and sustainable farming practices to use on his farm as well as share them with his farming community. He feels that interning at Rodale Institute will provide him with the skills to help his farm be more sustainable.
“I realize that my farm is not sustainable. We put a lot of things into it. We use a lot of chemicals and I need to learn and get a lot of knowledge and experience. In the United States, farming is very impressive. I am inspired by America’s food production and farm culture. When I return, I will get back to farming to bring my knowledge and experience from Rodale and apply what can be applied to my farm.”
He says that farming is actually similar, but at Rodale it is more organized, professional and modern. The soil where is he from, though, is very muddy which makes it harder to grow different crops and work with certain tools that American farmers can utilize.
“Sometimes I get lost in my language,” Trihatmojo says. English is not his first language, so some of the struggles with learning is not knowing the correct words. Along with this, organic farming is not as straightforward as it may seem. There are many details to be certain the agricultural practices you are doing are sustainable and organically sound.
“Organic farming is more complicated than I thought. It’s not just about not applying dangerous chemicals or too much fertilizer. We must know how to properly repair soil, cover cropping, plant rotations; there are many things that must be done to get a proper organic product.”
“In Indonesia, we are less organized and don’t use modern tools. The land at Rodale is different than in Indonesia. Rodale is more solid, and the soil in Indonesia is muddier. In Indonesia, we may not be able to use some of the tools we use here, because the soil can’t take as much pressure.”
In his free time he likes to cook local Indonesian food for the other interns at the farm and share his favorite foods. He enjoys learning from other interns what they like to cook and different projects that they can teach him about.
“I cook Indonesian food with Rodale’s product and the taste is very delicious. Especially on the weekend, me and other interns are cooking together so I can learn American food and I can teach them Indonesian food.”