Tutti frutti moments

Platter of juicy fresh fruits
MY eyes were locked on the platters of dazzling colours. Carefully arranged slices of tantalising tropical fruit created a palette of natural shades in a very enticing display of tones and textures which I was sure would taste as good as they looked. The yellow of jackfruit, mango and pineapple contrasted beautifully with the red of papaya, watermelon and roseapple (jambu air) while the ciku’s pale brown stood out distinctly against the green of honeydew, starfruit and kedondong.

While sipping chilled, freshly squeezed calamansi or limau kasturi, the aroma of tangy mango and sweet papaya beckoned. What a healthy, juicy fruit fiesta. It was a most fitting, delicious end to an interesting and informative tour of Desaru Fruit Farm!

Fresh fruits for sale
Watching the busloads of excited visitors arriving and then leaving with bags of fruit, it was hard to imagine that this award-winning fruit farm in Johor had its humble beginnings as a roadside fruit stall. Visitors to Desaru could never resist stopping at the stall to get some fresh fruit and the number of cars parked by the road soon became a potential traffic hazard!

The stall-owner then moved to a piece of land nearby which was gradually developed to become one of Malaysia’s largest agro-tourism sites today, with 50 acres growing honey oranges and 50 acres of other seasonal and non-seasonal tropical fruit.

What To Do

At Desaru Fruit Farm, you are welcome to see, smell, touch and feel but you are not allowed to pluck the fruit. City dwellers, more used to seeing fruit packed nicely on supermarket shelves, get excited at the idea of wandering all over the farm and to see fruit hanging from trees instead of packed in cling-wrap.

Farm fresh mangoes

Led by Henry Goh, our eloquent guide, we walked under shady trees and around bushes to small clearings where he explained the uniqueness of different fruit varieties and the methods of management.

The farm applies Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) using systematic organic fertilisers, supplementary irrigation and uses bees to naturally pollinate the flowers. Thanks to GAP and an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programme, there was a noticeable absence of pesky fruit flies and mosquitoes!

The farm is designed with added attractions of an Agriculture Gallery that displays ancient agricultural artifacts, a fishpond teeming with ornamental koi, herb and vegetable gardens, mushroom farm, apiary (beehives) and fresh fruit souvenir shop.

Durian lovers can indulge in the King of Fruit at the farm’s Fruit Fests along with rambutan, pulasan and mangosteen, when they are in season between June and September. But one of the more exciting attractions must be the petting zoo for close encounters with animals like goats, peacocks, birds, ostriches, wild fowl, rabbits, monkeys and even snakes!

Henry Goh extolling the potent powers
of this ornamental banana tree

The tour was fun and educational with the added challenge to figure out if there was any passion in passion fruit or any bread in breadfruit, to see and smell the difference between cempedak and jackfruit, and to wonder about the promised potent power of that ornamental banana tree!

As the proud recipient of a host of Ministry of Agriculture national level awards including the Special Award MAHA, Agro-tourism category in 2006 and first runner-up in Farmer’s Day Best Farm contest 2001, it’s no surprise that the farm is such a magnet for city folks.

Among them are celebrity guests from across the Causeway whose photographs grace the building corridors as proof that Desaru Fruit Farm is indeed a significant destination for everyone to enjoy.

How To Get There

Visitors can buy a selection of fresh fruits from the farm

Desaru Fruit Farm is located at Sungai Cemaran along the main road to Desaru with popular beach resorts only about 10km away. By road, the farm is a 90-minute scenic drive from Johor Baru and only 39 kms from Kota Tinggi. It’s a 30-minute ferry ride from Singapore’s Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Belungkor in Johor and another 30-minute drive to the farm.

The farm is open daily from 8am to 6pm and advance group reservations are recommended. For a minimum number of four persons, enjoy the Tropical Fruit Fiesta package that ends with a refreshing fruit buffet.

For enquiries and reservations, contact Tel: 07–822 5886, 822 3886 and 822 8017 or Fax: 07–822 4886. Email: sales@desaruff.com. Visit website: http://www.desaruff.com/

This article was first published in The New Straits Times, Travel Times on 21 May 2007

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