Garden-fresh organic veggies.

Villa Botani operates its own farm, where more than an acre is used to grow organic vegetables. The vegetables include year-round carrots, corn, chayote, yard-long and string beans and green spinach, arugula [rocket] and Chinese leafy vegetables (secim & pak coy). Depending on the season, we also harvest tomato, spring onions, mixed salad, baby corn, peanuts, Medan eggplants, cassava and cassava leaves and more. These days some organic rice is also grown.

Farming is done by Pak Haji Agus, who hails from Cipanas, a famous vegetable-growing area in the Puncak.Since 2011 he has operated on a sharecropping basis, with most of the profit going to him after covering the costs of compost, seed and hired labor. We use little mechanical equipment and loads of hand work by locals. Pak Haji takes pride in the vegetables produced.

At the outset around 2007, the soil was tested and found to be quite acid (pH only about 4.5). To improve drainage and soil retention, the land was then terraced with raised beds one meter wide and mostly 8 meters long. Finely ground dolomite rock was spread about and compost liberally applied to raise the pH. A nearby barn is used not only to raise the goats and sheep whose droppings serve for compost but it is also where we make it.

Almost daily our highly-prized, organic compost is made from cut grass and fresh leaves mixed together with banana tree stalks. A diesel-powered machine is used to shred the grass and leaves, promoting faster fermentation. We combine the droppings and urine of our goats to maximize nitrogen fixing and soil fertility.

Vila Botani raises goats and sheep not only for their droppings but also for sale of meat to consumers -- particularly in anticipation of the Idul Adha holiday. During 2014, there were about 40 goats and sheep, but the number has been cut back to fewer than 20, the required number to provide droppings for the compost.