Leisa Tyler was originally a travel and food journalist and Ewout Kemner was a Dutch physicist specialising in neutron scattering.
Appalled at the sheer volume of herbs and vegetables flown into Singapore from Europe and Australia, in 2011 they decided to try and grow European vegetables in Malaysia’s cold climate central highlands.
With the support of Fung Chee Siang, an Malaysian organic farmer and owner of Hatiku, Loh Lik Peng, a Singaporean restauranteur owner of the Unlisted Collection, and chefs Anthony Yeoh and Dave Pynt, the team spent 18 months in research and development; trialing varieties to see what would grow in Malaysia’s soil and through the monsoons, then packing and shipping produce.
Weeds & More now work with four farms, including Mr Fung's Hatiku, producing around 100 different varieties of herbs, fruit, vegetable, edible flowers and garnish products for restaurants and hotels in Singapore and Malaysia.
Fung Chee Siang’s property, Hatiku, is a quite respite from the industrial and often quite brutal farming in Cameron Highlands. Nestled into a natural amphitheatre and surrounded by thick jungle, which protect it from neighbouring farms, the property is fed by two natural springs, one which breeds vegetarian carp fish. Mr Fung is the most natural person we know- he lives and breathes an organic life (except when it comes to wine), and our moral compass when it comes to the woolly world of growing organics. Hatiku has organic certification from myOrganic.
Sunrise is a sprawling former hydroponic farm at Habu, on the road to the original Boh tea estate. Old friends of Mr Fung, the owners, Mr and Mrs Liew Kee Chong and their son John, were introduced to us several years ago when concerned about the volume of chemicals being sprayed around their two small grandchildren, who both live at the family home. They took to organics like ducks take to water. What started as a small patch of protected land for organics, has now stretched to the whole property. Happy go lucky and ridiculously hard workers, they are the sunshine of our lives. Sunrise is currently undergoing a three-year audit by myOrganic for organic certification.
Natural Green Life Farm
We met Damon and Jake through an organic supplier in Kuala Lumpur. Young, inquisitive and intrigued with many of the odd ball European heirloom vegetables we wanted to grow, we shared a lot in common. Their farm is in the hills behind Brinchang- which at 1600 meters above sea level, is ideal for root veg and unusual brassicas like Romanesco which like it a bit colder during the night. The farm is in its third-year audit by a Taiwanese organic certifier, and first year audit by myOrganic.
Traditionally cut flower growers, the Tang’s came to us with an interest in growing high value European heirloom vegetables. The land we use was formally used to grow ice plant and spinach, so what we classify as under conversion- free from chemicals but not yet able to be certified. We grow beetroots, zucchinis and beefsteak tomatoes at the Tang’s farm.