One for the album! Photo taken in front of the wild ferns (bilin) plot.

by James TC Wong, 4th Miri

MIRI – As part of its ongoing activities for this year, the Boys’ Brigade 4th Miri organized an educational outing to a farm on April 11.

Located about 25 km from the city, the privately-owned the 12-acre vegetables and fruits farm is nestled between the Kuala Baram industrial and agricultural zone.

Upon arrival, the Boys and Officers were warmly welcomed by farm owner Yong Hua Soon.

At the first stop of the tour, the visitors were introduced to the process of ferns planting.

Scientifically known as ‘Stenochlaena palustris’, the ferns ‘bilin’ or ‘milin’ is a favorite local dish in Sarawak. Used to be harvested wild, the ferns dish served in restaurants is now commercially farmed to meet the increasing market demands. However there are also many individual vegetable farmers who still pluck the ferns in the wild to sell in the tamu (local markets).

The visitors were also shown the germination, planting, caring and harvesting of water melons. They also learned that days to maturity range from 70 to 90, depending on the variety.

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Farm owner Yong (front, dark glasses) telling the Boys that water melons need fertile sandy soil to thrive.

“We’re now experiencing a dry spell weather which affects the production of our vegetables and fruits,” said Yong. “Hence, we need to pump water from the canals and pray for the rain to come soon.”

Other vegetables and fruits available at the farm are pumpkins, ladies fingers and bananas.

“I didn’t realize a farmer’s work is so tough,” said 10 year-old Junior Tan Zhe Herng. “From now on, I won’t waste any food on the table.”

13-year-old Senior Jupiter Kong was humbled to learn the many challenges a farmer has to overcome. “Now I have learned to respect farmers, and appreciate the hard work and effort they have to put in,” he added.

After 90 minutes, the visitors thanked the owner for the guided tour. “We wish to express our deep appreciation to Mr. Yong. Today our Boys have discovered much. They are now required to make reports from their observations from this learning experience, ” commented 4th Miri Captain Roseline Lee.

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