When I first started the farm, I was more focussed on producing produce: fruits, vegetables and fish. I felt and even more strongly belief now, for the continued sustainability and economic well-being of the farm, it was essential to not only have “raw” produce but to also have a range of products based on the farm outputs. All our products have to live up to our principle of being affordable to the masses.
I began to experiment and delve into the world of producing healthy food in the firm belief that the underlying basis for good health is good food. Personally, I am not into processed supplements so my concept it merely to facilitate the consumption of good food. From the herbals, fruits, leaves and flowers, I began experimenting in producing drinks that could be consumed as part of my daily beverage intake. I had to belief in the benefits as well as it had to taste good. So, I am always the first guinea pig. I wanted to be able to produce health supporting drinks, that are preventive as well as curative. So, many of the plants at the farm serve a multi purpose.
The top of my list are the Bentong ginger and turmeric combination, Misai Kucing leaves and flower, Soursop Leaves, Mangosteen and Roselle. I did research on the nutritional value, the health properties as well as the use in traditional and alternative therapy. All the source is planted at the farm and grown organically. Some of our drinks are seasonal whilst others are available year round. In line with trying to produce healthy products, we do not use any colourings, preservations or flavourings – it is all natural. Some of our drinks are sweetened and we use brown sugar; no white sugar is used. At this stage we only do direct selling to the customer as I do not feel that we are prepared to go beyond that yet as our produce is not mass-produced.
I do not want to outsource production of the ingredients as it then goes out of my control and I may wonder if short-cuts are taken. The basic principle in our products is “If I do not consume it, then I will not sell it” – the same that applies to our fresh produce. With the production of these drinks – in concentrate or ready-to-drink – it has allowed us to add-value to our produce. At the moment, the packaging is simple as I focus more on what is inside the bottle than the appearance. However, I know that in the future the packaging will evolve but the key consideration is still affordability to the masses.
Over the years, I have developed our own liquid fertiliser concentrate and there are 3 types:
- Enzyme fertiliser with pest control targeted for flowering and fruiting plants
- Enzyme fertiliser with pest control targeted for foliage
- Fish amino acid fertiliser
These concentrates are made from produce from the farm with limited addition from outside such as molasses and sea salt. The ingredients from the fish for our Fish Amino Acids (FAA) are also from the farm as we do rear fresh water fish. In this way, I am able to ensure that there is negligible introduction of toxic matter into the fertilisers. My 3-year old son “helps” me out at the farm and one of the things that he loves to do is to spray the plants. I do not want to have to worry that he may be negatively affected. These are all used at the farm and we now sell it. It is a concentrate and is non-toxic making it easy to use and affordable.
I also do seasonal products like tempoyak from quality kampung durian so we have these when durians are in season and until our stock for that season finish. We do not add any preservatives or colouring to it and it is done naturally.
Sometimes, when we have a bit of time, we will also do fermented green papaya which is a good source of probiotics and the enzyme papain. I enjoy eating this either as a salad or turning it into a topping for fish similar to the Thai mango topping for fish.
We rear fresh fish, namely catfish (keli), red tilapia and lampam in our fish ponds. We pipe our own water from the source specifically for the fish ponds ensuring a 24×7 flow of fresh water through over 3000m of polypipe. This is a separate supply line from the pipeline for the rest of the farm use. Although the actual distance to the source is less than 3km, due to the route we have to take, it takes that length of polypipe.
This is one of the most worthwhile investments that I made on the farm as it results in us having a clean fish pond that requires no artificial aeration and brings with it additional food for our fish in the form of the small river fish and shrimps. An aesthetic value added to the fish pond is our fountain which doesn’t require any pumps to function, merely the application of the law of Physics. (Note: Took me years to see firsthand the application of what I learnt in Physics in secondary school). The water comes in on one end and exits the pond into Sg. Lui on the other end.
The fish pond also serves as our flooding prevention measure as this area can flood when there is a lotof rain for a period of time. Our fish also feed on the banana pseudostems, tapioca leaves and kangkong so it also enables us to have another use for our produce “wastes”. The banana pseudostem also have the added function of cleaning the water in the fish pond. From time to time, I also feed it with the black soldier larvae, which is a by-product in the production of the enzyme fertiliser. We do also feed them fish pellets but with all the other food that the fish feed on as well as the clean water, the fish produced does not have a “muddy” smell or taste. Whilst we do sell fresh fish, we also will do smoked fish (ikan salai) which we first marinate with our own farm produced and blended herbs. It is a time consuming process but well worth it in producing a quality fish product thereby adding value to the raw produce. No artificial additives or “smoke” flavouring used and alhamdulillah, whenever I bring them to market, it is always sold out.
Because we produce organic produce, I am currently experimenting with producing more probiotics food products. This will be a new chapter in the farm development with an eye for the future.
The last and final part of 7 years later is : Behind the scenes which will cover the infrastructure as well as human resources.