A family of three set out to live in a traditional kampong house surrounded by durian and other fruit trees in Balik Pulau, Penang. Asian Property Review finds out from Kim and Eric Chong of Green Acres Orchard and Ecolodge how it’s working out for them.
What is the inspiration and vision behind Green Acres Orchard and Ecolodge?
What started as a back- to-nature experience for our young son (he was 4 when we bought the farm), has morphed into what is now Green Acres. As we invited friends with children our son’s age to the farm to share the experience with him, a number of like- minded friends encouraged us to open up our farm to share our nature inspired experience.
Why pick Balik Pulau in Penang as your location?
We wanted an area which was elevated enough so that we could enjoy the coolness of the evening and a place where it was isolated enough so that we could have some privacy. We do not have a resort. It’s just a 16-acre farm with a restored kampong house with an attached tree house. We restored another kampong house about 4 years ago to cater to day visitors.
What are the eco activities that are offered at your farm?
During durian season, we offer a tour of the farm and durian tasting. Those who book either the main house or the tree house with us get a better feel of what it is like to actually live in a fruit orchard with durians falling all around them especially during the peak of durian season. And if their ears are up to it, they can get the long version of why we should live a more sustainable lifestyle starting with the most basic of all needs – providing safe food for the family.
How competitive is this business in Penang?
I don’t have the figures for this. But from the response that we are getting from our discerning guests, experiential tourism is what they are looking for.
Who are mostly your visitors?
More than 50% of our visitors are foreigners with a big percentage of that from Singapore. Every year, we have to put in more time at the farm as we have more visitors. Word of mouth and genuine bloggers who believe in sustainable farming have helped us tremendously.