Kebun Keluarga (Kitchen Gardens) is a prime example of women’s economic empowerment in conservation. This program works with women who live around Gunung Palung National Park, teaching them how to cultivate the small plots of land they manage next to their homes. In 2018, almost 325 women participated – and 96% of them sold some of the produce they grew for supplemental income!
ASRI staff also distribute seeds to surrounding villages and show interested families how to create their own gardens. Each participant receives 20 bags of seeds containing plant species such as watermelon, mustard greens, chili, eggplant, celery, and leek. But what does seed planting have to do with protecting the rainforest? The ultimate goal of these programs is to promote sustainable agriculture in this part of West Borneo, so that families do not need to clear forested land. With increased yields and more food security – and more income from selling surplus produce at the market – families can be healthier and simultaneously break their economic dependence on the illegal timber trade.