Project: Nasi Eco Food Cart

Our group has analysed the environmental challenges in the area of Salatiga and Yogyakarta and concluded with a design solution which we hope both educates the public and endorses farmers to choose a more sustainable practice. Our design is a self sufficient sustainable eco food cart which we have lovingly called Nasi Eco.

The foundation of our research began prior to the Festival Mata Air where we had the opportunity to carry out a brief and quickly get an understanding of the area’s history along with the design challenges that are faced in Indonesia. This was an extremely helpful mini brief in getting our group into an alternative headspace to think critically about overcoming environmental challenges and how to overcome them with localised designerly solutions.


The space our group along with Samson Ossedryver were tasked with making

At Festival Mata Air ideas began to develop as we noted the unique market vibe within the festival and the success of alternative food stalls such as; Brew Works. We had our first idea here where we very quickly came to the conclusion that we should create an automated system of delivering water equally to all crops in a given locality.


One of the food carts Brew Works, which gave us inspiration for the Nasi Eco cart

However, after our feedback session we learnt that we needed to evolve or incorporate our design work to help people and improve their livelihood, not control it. We also discussed Jamie’s boredom of eating white rice which lead us to looking into food, crops and farming in Indonesia with the main question resonating “Why only eat white rice?”

The next stage was our primary investigation, which was the bulk of our research, to look into the history behind farming and the growing of rice in Java. We learnt about a type of farming called Permaculture which ironically originated in Australia. There was a farm that one source noted which has also been recommended by our tutors to visit and thus we went in search of this farm.

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Testing out the viability of the water systems utilised in our prototype

Visiting the farm proved to be the most unique experience as we saw how it all works in reality instead of being glued to our computers. Having the opportunity to go visit sites that were explicitly linked with our research vastly improved our understanding.

At face value the farm seems like a quaint cottage on fertile land which overlooks Yogyakarta city. The lovely farmer; Salas took us on a tour of their farm where we learnt about their lifestyle along with permaculture design. Salas explained to us that growing crops and farming animals should be a holistic and cyclical process where the presence of waste and precious matter are valuable components of the ecosystem.

From these experiences we were able to visualise our design solution. The Nasi Eco is a concept design for a sustainable food cart, which aims to introduce ideas of sustainable permaculture design into Indonesian society.

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The Nasi Eco cart prototype

The cart can be easily transported around the city of Yogyakarta, and to events such as Festival Mata Air. Promoting and spreading knowledge of the alternative farming movement is key to educating others about sustainability which ultimately allows others to become involved.

Nasi Eco is a cart made from locally sourced or recycled materials such as coconut timber (which is abundant) and water bottles to seamlessly integrate a village’s sustainable practices in daily life. Each eco cart will be linked to a permaculture farm, thus the farm is being brought to the streets and will begin discussion on sustainable practices.

There are many features of the cart which and so we have listed them as follows;


  • Permaculture inspired water system (constructed from recycled pipes) to grow herbs and fresh food for the cart. The car has a direct connection with a permaculture farm (such as Bumi Langit), which can provide additional food and produce.
  • Coconut timber construction, a quick growing and sustainable timber available in the region.
  • Roof top garden to maximize growing space and utilise sunlight.
  • Tapered rooftop to collect and funnel rainwater into the rooftop garden and through the piping system.
  • Rooftop solar panel, which utilises sunlight to charge a night light for the cart.
  • Ventilation slots for adequate airflow when cooking, and to ensure the plants do not overheat.
  • Open plan design to minimise materials and optimize airflow into the space.
  • Chalkboard menu system, which can be easily changed according to produce available at the farm.
  • Flip out serving tray to maximise space.
  • Sustainable gas cooking system bottled from waste systems at the farm.
  • Bins constructed from woven bamboo and banana leaves, which can collect organic waste to be used at the farm as compost.
  • Three-wheeled design with wheels constructed from coconut wood and up-cycled rubber tires.

In conclusion; this experience has been very unique as both a uni subject and “holiday.” Entering another country and thinking critically about their culture, lifestyle, government and the way things work lead to some very interesting insights. It was especially insightful to be able to do first hand research; instead of sitting behind a computer and assuming the way of life we got to actually experience it. Participating in festivals, making, creating, visiting farms, learning about the permaculture way of life, eating organic meals with locals, eating slow food with our uni group. All of these experiences were the foundation of our design solution to the environmental challenge of post industrialised farming methods and pesticides in foods. We believe our Eco Cart resolves the environmental challenges of the area by using permaculture farming to create food that is brought to the streets so that people can be educated about a better way of farming for the environment along with fresher food for the people.

All imagery in this post has been originally sourced.

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