In streamlining our end-products from the farm would be, we will have basically four types:
- SHL natural drink concentrates and teas
- Fruits and selected vegetables
- Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (EVCO)
Over the last two years, we have market tested several varieties of drinks and teas based on what we grow at the farm. Based on our finding as well as on what I love due to its taste and benefits, the selection was made. The underlying principle is that it has to be organically-grown and provides nutrients and therapeutic benefits. All our concentrate drinks are unsweetened and the choice to sweeten or not is left to the consumer. The concentrates that we will produce are:
- Bentong Ginger and Turmeric
- Roselle concentrate
- Roselle probiotics concentrate
- Cold-pressed calamansi juice
- Cold-pressed calamansi juice with lemongrass
- Cold-pressed calamansi juice with blue sweet pea flower extract
- Misai Kuching Tea
- Soursop Leaves Tea
- Roselle Leaves Tea
Fruits and selected vegetables
Over the years, we have planted many types - over 40 types - and I have learnt a lot from it. We will streamline this down to the following:
- Choy sum (sawi)
- Long green beans
- French beans
- Mini cucumbers
For me, this is oil of choice from its numerous benefits to it creamy, nutty taste. The coconut trees that we have planted years ago started to fruit last year and as it matures will provide us with the base ingredients although it will not be like the large, plantations. We plan to start adding coconut trees, selecting the variety so that we can have good harvests of coconut in the years ahead. We use permaculture cold-pressed method which is time-consuming but produces the purest form of the coconut oil. The production of EVCO has some down-time so it works well in scheduling our task and activities.
For 2018, we are targeting producing 50 bottles a month. By commercial standards, this is not much but we aim at ensuring quality production and become the regular supplier to our existing customers and gain new customers due to the quality and taste of our EVCO. On the personal side, this is something that I can see myself doing as I age as it doesn't involve much physical activity but more on patience and attention to detail.
This year, our fish pond is undergoing a major renovation, to allow us to better manage our fish operations as well as providing for better environment for our fish. We are building walls all along the pond which is shaped like a flowing river as well as sectioning it. Experts has indicated that we can have at least 500,000 fishes at any one time but I highly doubt that is what we will do in 2018. However, it does leave us with substantial growth capacity. What is important for me is that we produce quality, "sweet" tasting fish without the nasty door often associated with fresh water fish. Over the years we have experimented with different feed, water conditions, pond maintenance and fish rearing practice and we have learnt a lot. To date, we have received no complaints on our fish and many are surprised at the taste. We do not introduce any waste products such as carcasses and chicken innards as feed to the fish and we will continue this policy. I eat my fish and I certainly do not like muddy-taste, smelly fish. I also like to choose the method of cooking from steaming to frying to roasting so the taste of fish is important.
By middle of this year, we will re-start our fish operations which means the earliest harvest will be in 2018. The farm dogs play a role in our fish operations as they catch the monitor lizard (biawak) and the river otters (mermerang) which can cause substantial loss of the fish population. The investment put in to build a wall around the property has also helped to reduce the invasion of the river otters. We are working on minimising external dependence on feed. Keeping the water flow optimum is important as with the in-flow of water, comes natural food in the form of small river fish and shrimps, which would provide the proteins. At the same time, we feed them "greens". Our choice of feed and constant water flow has definitely made an impact on the quality and taste of the fishes.
We are currently undergoing certification and hope to have the certification by 2018. This will definitely be an achievement for us as well as a validation of our practice.
Fertilisers and Pest Control
We will continue to produce our fertilisers and pest control products which we use at the farm. It will be made available for sale on request. For me, it is important that I continue to have truly organic fertilisers that have not had the source materials be contaminated by chemical pesticides or herbicides. It also serves as a way for me to recycle my organic wastes and I look forward to the addition of goat manure as an ingredient in my fertilisers.
Sales and marketing
I have always believed in selling directly to my customers but the toll of doing market every Sunday whilst still producing is getting harder. As such, we will probably cease to do Sunday morning market in 2018 but focus more on "order selling". I know it will probably be tough in the beginning as I build a customer list but the plan is to provide delivery to the customer door-step and delivery charges will be subject to minimum order and area of delivery. We will set-up 2 days where we will do the delivery
I love hosting events and having people visit the farm so this is one area that we will still continue to do. In shaa Allah, we will have an Open Farm Day focussing on selected plants and products in support of having your own garden as well as our fresh farm produce, and also Durian Fest where you can come and buy "original" durians and eat at the farm or bring it home and whatever other fruits and vegetables we have available for sale at that time. A new event that I am thinking of doing a "Restaurant Pop-Up Day" to coincide with our fish harvest featuring our fish and vegetables and fruits, and drinks from the farm with a limited number of seats. I love challenges and I think this "Restaurant Pop-Up" event will be one.
So, all in all, although 2018 is many months away, I am sure that time will seem to fly by. However, having devised a plan and direction, it will help in us working our way through the rest of 2017. Being agriculture-based, things need time to grow and produce many things need to be planned months or even years ahead :)