Ecological Farming

founded in 2004
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Coordinator | Samuel
Coordinator | Samuel
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Volunteer and expand your gardening knowledge
Help bringing economic investment, awareness, development as well as outreach to people in the farming community
Stay at Erna’s homestay where you are able to overlook her garden and mountains
Work in collaboration with Erna on what projects she wants to work on
Relax in one of many riverside hammocks while watching the jungle life swing and sing around you
Volunteers support in the maintainance and running of an ecological farming project based here in Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

Our program with the EcoFarm is important because it helps bring economic investment, awareness, development and outreach to people in the farming community and the greater communities. Volunteers help farmers, by bringing outside knowledge, such as permaculture, and volunteers take away local knowledge. Volunteering with local people and project shows a postive relationship between nationalities and an example of how volunteers can bring in local economy.

What is Eco-Farming?

Ecological Farming or more commonly known as Eco-Farming is a way of cultivating agriculture that places an emphasis on both the health of the environment and the health of its consumers. Long before conventional and modern agriculture practices have been put into place, people had farmed in an eco-friendly way. Besides producing healthy and safe-to-consume agriculture products, ecological farming also provides other benefits, such as minimized environmental pollution and contamination through agricultural activities, and maintenance of soil productivity and fertility in the long term. All of which add up to improved sustainable use of natural resources and of the environment.

Volunteers will assist on her own garden, community garden or farm, known as Erna’s EcoFarm, located in the village of Gotong Royong, North Sumatra. The eco-farm is surrounded by rice paddies, agro-forests with mountains in the distance. The eco - farm is a short distance from her homestay and the communal garden within walking distance. Erna started focusing on her land 10 years and with the help of the Ruffort Foundation 4 years ago, was able to develop the farm as organic. The farm is in the initial stages of becoming a productive ecological farm which aims to create a sustainable land management system to encourage economic growth and biodiversity. Erna future plans include working with volunteers and people with knowledge of organic and permaculture farming, to develop school sessions at the farm, to open the farm to the public so thet can learn about the plants, their uses and medicinal properties. Erna is a lovely lady and very passionate about making the farm work for her and the community and to encourage others to follow.


Volunteers will stay at Erna’s homestay, in one of the two beautiful rooms that overlook her garden and mountains. There is no WiFi at the homestay but buying data for your phone is cheap (3gb £3 for 1 month). However there is WiFi at the trust. There is also the possibility of 2 volunteers to sleep at the farm in a simple house for free. However, we ask volunteers to bring, donate or buy electrical equipment, kitchen stuff or furniture for the house to make it more liveable. Breakfast and lunch will provided. Volunteers will work on the farm for around 3 -5 hours a day, then return to the homestay for lunch with Erna and rest. The days are dynamic and work can range from general gardening, taking the animals, such as goats or sheep for a walk, picking fruit, recycling, composting and helping to bring local children to the farm and showing them around. Volunteers will work in collaboration with Erna on what projects she wants working on and work alongside Papa (Erna’s Husband) at the farm who speaks little English, but is extremely friendly and helpful. Volunteers do not have to bring anything, but gardening or growing vegetables books would be helpful. We expect this to be a fun learning experience. 

Preferable Skills

To have some gardening knowledge

To be able to work alone

To work on ones own initiative

To work within the local community

Willing to learn basic Bahasa Indonesian

We accept volunteers throughout the year, except during the month of Ramadan. We encourage volunteers of all ages above 18 years to come and give it a go. There is plenty of work to do be done, either working on the farm or helping to make it more presentable with signage, exhibitions to encourage the outside community to come and learn.

Typical day

Weekdays: After the initial orientation, you will volunteer for roughly 3-5 hours per day. The start times and daily workload depends on your program but a typical morning schedule working at Erna's Farm is as follows:

8:00 AM Volunteers wake up and get breakfast, provided by Erna

8.30 AM Volunteers will travel to the location of their farming project either by bicycle, motorbike or walking

9.00 AM Volunteers will begin their daily work. Is is possible to start work earlier especially during dry season at it gets extremely hot. Volunteers can take a mid-morning break to drink fresh young coconut from one of the trees.

12:00 -2:00 PM Go back to Erna's homestay for lunch and relax. 

2pm: Afternoon is free. Visit the Bukit Lawang trust to help with teaching or other activities.

Evenings are free to go into town, socialize with the locals, play music and cards, or to simply relax on a hammock at the school and meet the volunteers on our other programmes (you will also meet them during Induction, Phase Review & Debreif). 

Free-time activities

Literally meaning "door to the hills", Bukit Lawang is a small village situated 90 kilometers northwest of Medan, the capital city of North Sumatra, Indonesia.

The village is on the edge of the magnificent Gunung Leuser National Park, which is one of the richest tropical-rainforest ecosystems in the word, and home to the rare Sumatran orang-utans, as well as the Sumatran tiger, rhino and elephant, although sightings of these are very rare. The people here live basically and the river is still the focal point of village life here, running through the heart of it, where the people wash clothes, fish and the children play all day. 

It's very easy to while away a few days lounging in the many riverside hammocks, splashing about in the river, tubing and watching the jungle life swing and sing around you. The forests surrounding Bukit Lawang are part of the vast Gunung Leuser National Park which is an area of dense rainforest. The park as a whole is home to eight species of primate plus tigers, rhinos, elephants and leopards. However, aside from orangutans and various other primates, you are very unlikely to see any other large mammals here.

At the weekend there are innumerable places located nearby that are must see!


Batu Katak - A lovely village on the river and near waterfalls.


Tangkahan - Has an elephant camp where visitors can bathe elephants in the river. We support bathing them, and the projects but we do not support riding the elephants and hope you will share that belief with us.


Batu Rongring - A village off the beaten path where trekking awaits!


Berestagi - For long weekends or traveling before or after volunteers can visit this lovely town in the mountains and go trekking. It is a bit colder here and that makes it a popular place among locals and tourists!

Lake Toba - A beautiful island (Samosir) in the middle of the lake is home to waterfalls, hot springs, beaches, and more.

Water Sports


In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Interest in agriculture and sustainable farming solutions, environmentally conscious, use social media, website design,
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 14:00

What's Included

Services by Bukit Lawang Trust

Our fees serve more as donations and the money that comes to us directly helps to grow our programmes. We are a non profit charitable organization and our fees go to:

Accomodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays, safe drinking water, Tea & Coffee, Wi-Fi for volunteers at the Trust Centre. All of the classes provided at the Trust Centre are 100% free of charge and we use funds from our volunteers to facilitate this, as well as expanding the reach and impact of our programmes. Your fees directly suppor the education and conservation programmes as well as contributing towards the salary of our fantastic in country staff, maintainance of food, accomodation, transport for children to come to school, education materials and much much more! 

In addition to all of this, included in your fees are transport from and too the airport in Medan.

Airport Pickup at Kuala Namu International Airport

It is about four hours from the airport to Bukit Lawang and quite expensive so we provide it both ways for volunteers.


There are two bedrooms at Erna's homestay with private bathrooms. The rooms and balcony have beautiful views of her garden and rice paddies. If you decide to sleep at the Green House on the farm, it is very peaceful and quiet. There is room for 2 volunteers to stay there. The house is basic but does have tea making facilities and a simple bathroom. Breakfast and lunch are included in the price. There is no Wifi but data is cheap which you can buy with a local SIM. However there is working WiFi at the school, where most of your other time is spent.There is electric but living in a fairly remote place, there are power cuts especially during the rainy season.

Guest Family Bedroom (Single) Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

Breakfast will be simple including fruits, pancake or omlette. Lunch provided will be what Erna has cooked, the majority will be vegetarian. Its a great chance to learn about the local food and how to cook it. Erna is a great cook. Tea and coffee can be made by yourself. There is a guesthouse, Sumatran Paradise, opposite to Erna's where you can chill, take dinner or a drink. 

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Kuala Namu International Airport (KNO) in Kuala Namu. We assist you to find cheap flights to Indonesia.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Indonesia provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Indonesia you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Indonesia.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

Volunteers are able to apply for any cycle throughout the year. We want to work together with you to find the right placement for both you and the trust. we are closed during Ramadam, however we sometimes have volunteers in for refurbishment work, so look out for our 'Ramadam Refurbers' advertisements if you are interested!

The start and end dates are fixed. This is becuase of visa restrictions, however if you wish to continue travelling after your placement that is absolutely fine! just let us know when you apply :). 

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
8 - 8 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
8 weeks (min. stay)
8 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$100 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Bukit Lawang Trust will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Bukit Lawang Trust during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Ecological Farming

Volunteers support in the maintainance and running of an ecological farming project based here in Bukit Lawang, North Sumatra!


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