PETALING JAYA, June 11 – As a child, Lee Choon Boon, chef at Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, grew up in a healthy environment, growing his own fruits and vegetables and having his own chicken farm.
Helping his family to reap the fruits of their labor remains a childhood memory that Lee remembers with great fondness.
“It was considered one of our greatest entertainments in an age without the Internet,” he said. Malaysian courier.
In the process, he picked up pearls of wisdom from his elders, from the use of earth-friendly ingredients to the importance of being self-sufficient.
“Growing our own food has certainly led us to cook with love.
“As we begin to appreciate all that goes into growing the food that sustains us and learning how to preserve our harvest,” he added.
Today that philosophy is alive and well, culminating in not one but three organic gardens at The Banjaran.
The Organic Garden and Chef Boon’s Garden, named after Lee, grows common green vegetables such as cucumber, carrots, and leafy greens while the Herbal Garden produces basil, rosemary, and oregano. .
Covering nearly 10,000 square feet, the three gardens are part of an undeveloped 20-acre lot that Sunway City Ipoh reallocated to food and agriculture last year.
Boasting over 40 types of vegetables and herbs, the organic farm is powered by fresh water from the Ipoh Mountains which flow into a natural lake within the retreat.
There are 15 organic farmers whose daily responsibilities include weeding, watering, fertilizing, pruning, harvesting, collecting food debris for compost, and producing their own fertilizer.
Farmers focus on growing products that thrive in their respective seasons by using crop rotation that naturally enriches the soil.
In addition to producing more nutritious products, organic farming practices ensure long-term sustainability of land that benefits the environment.
“Sustainable diets also encourage us to not only consume nutritious foods, but also to consume mindfully – by consuming only what we need for our daily subsistence, we reduce food waste,” said Lee.
From an operational standpoint, these gardens have helped the retreat reduce their food waste and carbon footprint by minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
For Lee, sustainable nutrition is about choosing foods that are healthy for our bodies and our environment, in order to improve the quality of life and society as a whole.
“As a parent, one of the most important reasons for a sustainable diet is that it encourages us to produce healthy food without compromising our future generation,” he said.
The next time guests settle into Banjaran for some well-deserved serenity away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, they will eat fresh organic produce from these gardens which were envisioned by Sunway Group Founder and Chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah. .
“Farm-to-table meals remind us of the things that really matter – our inseparable relationship with nature, our infinite capacity to nourish, our imperative to be healthy and our inherent responsibility for the stewardship of the planet,” said Cheah, who is a farm-to-table fan.
The initiative is also part of Sunway’s commitment to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include food security, improved nutrition, promotion of sustainable agriculture, consumer and responsible reproduction.
Although farm-to-table catering is relatively new in Malaysia, Lee says it is a growing social movement that reflects the growing awareness of healthier eating that takes into account ‘environment.
In an effort to encourage a sustainable lifestyle and promote farm-to-table catering, the Popular Wellness Retreat now incorporates products from its organic gardens which are harvested at its peak for guests and customers alike. Restaurant customers enjoy maximum nutritional benefits.
There’s freshly squeezed organic vegetable juice at Pomelo’s breakfast counter while Jeff’s Cellar has a class of “The Banjaran Organic Garden” on its signature menu.
For fans of the King of Fruits, a seasonal durian buffet awaits you in February and July courtesy of Banjaran Organic Farm.
“By filling our kitchens with produce from local farms and our own organic gardens, we can adopt more sustainable lifestyles,” said Lee.
During the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order, the farm also delivered over 200 kg of fresh organic produce that benefited more than 6,000 frontline people and patients at Raja Permaisuri Bainun hospital from Ipoh.
Nestled in a 22.7-acre valley, the Banjaran is cradled by lush rainforest, geothermal hot springs, natural caves, waterfalls and magical Paleozoic limestone hills that are 260 million years old.
Known for its villa stays, wellness treatments and restaurants, the popular retreat located just a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur has made a name for itself in the hospitality industry for preserving its environment. natural environment and its environmentally friendly practices.
But part of this closeness to nature includes regular interludes with the hungry “neighbors” of the gardens.
Lee and his team found themselves losing crops to monkeys from the nearby rainforest at the start of the farm.
“The monkeys were stealing our products before they could even ripen.
“We have since put up fences around our gardens to keep monkeys out,” he said.