A Closer Look At Local Farming

The wealth of information (and misinformation) about food on the web has made society very conscious about diet and food sources. Any article mentioning GMOs or ‘mass agriculture’ can make you stare at the food at the end of your fork and wonder how it got there. In line with our Local Merdeka Fair, here’s a little peek into the B.I.G. world of sustainable agriculture to provide some insight behind the produce in our Botanical section.

We said hello to Julian Roe, Managing Director of Genting Garden which operates farms in Genting (Unit Hydroponik) and Cameron Highlands (Bertam Valley and Tanah Rata). As with all our farming partners, we had to stop ourselves from saying ‘Hey how’s it growing’.

Farming Methods- Gather, Rinse, Peat


Julian explained the concept of Soilless Culture; a method of farming that does not use soil, but rather a specially curated solution of nutrients mixed with water. Certain crops like lettuce are grown in a recirculating flow of Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), continuously flowing past the roots of the crops to maintain optimal levels of nutrients, water, and oxygen. A great benefit of soilless-growing is that nutrients are essentially chosen by the plants according to their needs, as opposed to leaking into soils and waterways (which happens with traditional farming methods).

Fruiting vine crops like tomato, capsicum, and cucumber are also grown without soil, using a coco peat bag culture. Peat is a growing material consisting of semi-decomposed vegetable matter, whereas coco peat is made using dried coconut husk fibres. Using this method, the roots of the vine crops anchor into the coco peat bags while being irrigated by an automatic drip solution. The automatic drip is connected to a computer network that feeds it information directly from the weather station. With technological help, you get an organic, safe, and eco-friendly way to grow crops.

Farming Challenges – When the Growing Gets Rough

Extreme and irregular weather patterns can cause shock to the plants’ growing process, therefore maintaining an ideal environment is very important. Sufficient human resources are required for this as the act of harvesting crops is very labour intensive. Pests need to be expelled and unwanted diseases need prevention to ensure all-year round production of quality crops.

To stop things from getting veggie serious, Julian’s farming company adopts the latest in farming technology, cooperating with MARDI, The Department of Agriculture, and University Putra Malaysia(UPM), where research is carried out for the industry-wide benefit of Malaysia’s horticulture.

Sustainable growing practices are implemented under the supervision of expert managers, such as growing crops in enclosed netting and greenhouse cladding for protection. Wastage is also reduced to a minimum by harvesting according to order, and any extra produce is divided amongst employees and the local community at no charge.

Sow What Do We Reap?

The types of produce that are freshly harvested and shipped daily to our grocer include vine crops such as heirloom tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Capsicum, Palermo Sweet Peppers, Cocktail Amoroso Tomatoes, Gourmet Cherries, and Japanese Cucumbers. There are also a variety of herbs like Peppermint, Basil, Lemon Thyme, Marjoram, Coriander, along with salad leaves such as Salanova Lettuce, Green & Red Corals, and Baby Romaine. We did not ask how workers get paid if there’s no celery.  

We hope we’ve planted some seeds of knowledge that’ll enrich your vegetable-buying experience the next time you’re at B.I.G.! Don’t miss the excitement of our Local Merdeka Fair while it’s around (happening until 2nd September) – more details here https://bit.ly/BIGLatest 

  1. Experience a complete grocery adventure through our impressive array of specialised ingredients and gourmet products at Ben’s Independent Grocer today!

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