(CNN) — Bali first captured Kayti Denham’s heart when she came to the Indonesian island for her honeymoon in the 1980s.

«When the plane door opened onto the tarmac, the heady tropical aroma promised everything the UK did not,» she recalls. «The chance to be frolicsome and sun-drenched.»

She held that memory close, and returned to the island now and then to reconnect. The marriage didn’t last, but Denham says she fell more deeply in love with Bali than she ever has with a man.

After 25 years in the UK, Denham moved to Australia’s Byron Bay, where she launched a range of aromatherapy skin care products with a friend. Later in Sydney she worked with a local production company as a scriptwriter.

Fast-forward to 2004, when Denham left Australia for a teaching job in Bali, which led to a series of positions with international schools on the island. She continued to take writing commissions on the side, including a stint writing for Scottish chef Will Meyrick, founder of Sarong and Mamasan, two of the island’s most celebrated locavore restaurants.

Kayti's Bali Home -13

Robi Supriyanto: Musician, environmental activist and earth-positive coffee farmer.

Kayti Denham

A lifelong lover of live music, Denham crossed paths with Robi Supriyanto, frontman for the popular Balinese rock band Navicula. In Indonesia, Supriyanto is known not only for his energetic grunge-inspired performances, but for his involvement in sustainable agriculture and his efforts to encourage pride in the farming life, passions that Denham shared through her work with Meyrick and studies with permaculture guru Bill Mollison in Australia.

«If you want to know Balinese culture, just open the traditional Balinese calendar,» Supriyanto told CNN in 2018. «Everything relates to agricultural elements. If you want to preserve Balinese culture, you have to preserve agriculture too.»

Denham discussed such ideas with Supriyanto, who lives in Bali’s Ubud town with his American wife and child.

«We talked about how nice it would be to establish a home farm where one could practice permaculture and grow organic produce,» she says. «For me, it probably comes from fantasies I had when reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a child.»

«I had to work on trust and have people trust me»

Bali's Tabanan Regency is known for its rice terraces.

Bali’s Tabanan Regency is known for its rice terraces.


Supriyanto helped her find a semi-rural property in Tabanan Regency, often referred to as «the real Bali,» where terraced rice fields follow the land’s natural contours with the sleeping volcano of Mount Batukaru in the background.

Stone-walled family compounds employ subak, the Balinese community-based irrigation control system, for their farms.

Here Denham could make her dream real. She formed a partnership with Supriyanto to secure the land in 2015, and through a lawyer drew up contracts that designated Denham and her daughters Kepsibel and Severen, both living in Australia, as legal lessees.

«I didn’t have a pile of money to invest, just my monthly teaching salary,» Denham says. «I had to work on trust and have people trust me. The phrase I repeated to myself over and over was ‘It will work out.'»

The 1.2-hectare property abuts national conservation…


Read More: UK woman buys traditional house for $8,000, ships it across Indonesia to create

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