The owner, Muhammad Hossen Ediwi, 63, and his family, have been very persistent in developing the strawberry farm. His dreams finally became a reality when he managed to be one of the first strawberry farmers in Sarawak. Reminiscing on his early days of planting strawberries, Hossen said the Jantayu Strawberry Farm started late last year through the efforts of his late wife, Hasnah Pauzul.
Their journey into the business full of unexpected events that are hard to describe. According to one of Hossen’s daughters, co-owner Huzaimah Mohd Hossen, 39, they did not expect that the farm would be a success and become among the earliest people in Sarawak to produce home-grown strawberries. “It started in late 2015, when my parents bought strawberry trees for sale at the Agricultural, Horticultural and Tourism Agro (MAHA) Exhibition in Muara Tuang, Kota Samarahan.
“In the beginning, we were just trying our luck to grow the plant in Sarawak, as everyone knows, strawberries need cold weather in order to grow. It is difficult for the plant to survive in dry and sandy soils. “However, our plants thrived and who would’ve thought, they even bore fruits!” Huzaimah added, “First, it attracted the attention of my friends and fellow villagers. Some villagers and friends who lived further away from our house are even willing to come, just to see for themselves the thrifty strawberry shrubs here.”
Huzaimah said the idea for the construction of the farm started after her mother was excited to see the plant growing in their frontyard. “After that, the rest of the plants that were stored inside the house grew larger, and that forced us to relocate the tress. “My father proposed that we move the trees in his empty one-acre land. At the same time, my late mother expressed her desire to have a nursery for strawberries. “Moreover, mother also wanted to provide a place for guests to dine, relax, and build a special hall for guests who came to the nursery just to see the strawberry,” he said.
Huzaimah added that when the nursery was under construction, her mother suddenly became ill. Fate then had its own way of doing things. Hasnah passed away early last year due to her illness, before the nursery was able to be completed. However, in order to fulfil his wife’s wishes, Hossen, continued his efforts to open the farm. “Jantayu Stawberry Farm took quite a while to be completed. This is because there are many things that had to be supervised and dealt with throughout the construction process. By mid-2018, with the efforts and support of the public, the Jantayu Strawberry Farm finally managed to open its doors to visitors,” Huzaimah added.
Among the facilities provided on-site by the farm are a rental hall for holding events, food and beverage booths that provide a variety of strawberry-based food and beverage menus and a Surau for Muslim visitors.
“To date, facilities such as halls have been rented by customers to hold private ceremonies, birthday celebrations, wedding receptions and family days. “In addition, our food stalls are also a favourite among visitors as we provide various dishes for them to savour.
“Some of the most popular dishes by the customers are our signature dish, the ‘Nasi Lemak Strawberry’, churros, strawberry smoothies, strawberries dipped in chocolates, ice creams and more,” he said. According to Huzaimah, the food and beverage stalls are all owned by her siblings. We work together to come up with the special dishes to cater to the visitors at the farm. In fact, I also train my son who is still in school to handle the ice cream business here,” she said cheerfully.
Methods of care
The strawberries require meticulous and absolute care to ensure the trees have a longer lifespan and to produce more fruit. According to Huzaimah, planting strawberries requires a lot of patience, sacrifice and commitment especially when it involves more than 7,000 greenhouse plants. “Although the strawberries produced in our fields are smaller in size compared to those produced in Cameron Highland, Pahang, they are still very sweet. “The trees here need to be taken care of using appropriate methods accordingly, because the weather here is hot and humid, compared to the cold weather in Cameron Highlands. “We have to make sure that the plants are exposed to sufficient amount of sunlight.
Therefore, from 7am to 11am, we will open the nettings to make it easier for the sun to illuminate the plants before closing it again just before noon. “At 4pm, the net will be reopened. This method is very important to protect trees from overexposure. If the plants are overexposed, the shrubs will wither and die,” she disclosed. Huzaimah also explained that each plant requires enough water to keep the soil moist.
“The root of a strawberry tree should always be cool so that it can grow well and produce good quality fruit. We use the drip system method to water the stubble trees twice, morning and evening. In addition, in order to maintain the quality of the strawberries, we use organic fertilisers to help the tree produce large fruits,” she said. Huzaimah hopes to encourage her fellow villagers and those living around Kuching to plant strawberries.
According to her, her family has shown that planting strawberry trees can be done sucessfully in Sarawak despite the warmer weather, with proper training and care. She intends to make Kampung Jaya Bakti a tourist destination, similar to Cameron Highlands. Jantayu Stawberry Farm is open on Saturdays, Sundays, Public Holidays and School Holidays. The farm operates from 9am to 6pm.