PETALING JAYA: For many, the area of Bandar Utama is synonymous with the massive 1 Utama Shopping Centre.
That said, did you know that just a stone’s throw away from the mall, there is an actual farm that you can visit?
Occupying 0.6 hectares of land next to Avante Hotel, Utama Farm started off as a small-scale project located at the shopping centre’s rooftop.
Today members of the public can even visit Utama Farm to eat at the restaurant there, where fresh produce harvested from the farm is cooked.
Mind you, it’s not just vegetables that are harvested here but several varieties of fish, crab and shrimp as well.
Utama Farm has several fishing areas where you are provided rods to haul in your own catch, which the kitchen will clean and cook for you.
Aspiring gardeners will find much to do here as visitors can go on guided farm tours where they can harvest their own vegetables and learn sustainable practices, for just RM25 per person.
Here, the method of aquaponic farming is adopted, with not a single drop of pesticide used on the crops.
Needless to say, Utama Farm is a place truly dedicated to the goal of maintaining a low carbon footprint as co-founder Emil Jihad, 34, can attest to.
During a recent visit to the farm, FMT Lifestyle spoke with Emil about this unique farm in the city.
This F&B businessman turned farmer said that when he met his business partner Tony Yong, he found a kindred spirit. Someone who shared his concerns about pesticides in plants and the overuse of antibiotics in aquaculture.
So, the two men started a little vegetable patch on 1 Utama’s rooftop, with the management’s blessing.
It became clear soon enough that the project needed more space to grow, hence the recent move to its current location.
Touching on the topic of “closed-loop farming”, Emid explained that it was a method of farming where nothing is wasted. “Everything is recycled. Nothing is discharged into the surrounding environment.”
According to him, the fish and prawn ponds are filled with treated rainwater and afterwards, the water from the ponds is used to irrigate and fertilise the crops here.
“Even the fish waste is used as fertiliser. We don’t use any synthetic fertiliser here. That allows the plants to grow organically and grow high quality produce, which we harvest or serve here.”
At present, there are about 15 to 25 types of vegetables grown at the farm. “We are always experimenting with new varieties.”
He added that there are two prawn ponds here, one saltwater and one freshwater. The first houses tiger prawns, crabs and mantis shrimps, while the second has bighead prawns.
And of course, there’s the fish pond. “There’s patin, tilapia, keli and several others. We will keep adding more based on customer feedback.”
In addition to tourists and anglers, Utama Farm has played host to numerous corporate events and parties of all kinds.
If you’re going there with the kids, there are exciting ways to keep them occupied – like the small collection of furry critters, namely guinea pigs and rabbits, that they can feed.
There are also a few fish ponds where they can feed the schools of fish swimming freely.
For sporting enthusiasts, the newly installed baseball batting cage is a great way to test their hand-eye coordination as balls come flying at them!
Emil said that he still has more ambitious plans up his sleeve and is always open to new ideas.
“Regulars see that every other week they come here, there are new additions. At Utama Farm, you can enjoy a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.”
Persiaran Bandar Utama,
Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya,
Operating hours: 12pm-1am daily
Contact: 012-889 9085