Meet Kenny Soon We Hong
In 2012, he decided to take a leap of faith and leave his career as a bank manager to pursue his childhood dream of living the simple life as a farmer.
Speaking to SAYS, the 38-year-old said he had always wanted to buy a piece of land, build a small home, and plant just enough vegetables and fruits to supply his little family
However, he said in order to achieve it, he knew he had to earn a decent amount of money and acquire some experience in life.
"So I followed the normal path where I studied in university, graduated, found a job, worked in a bank, and was slowly promoted to bank manager," the father of three explained.
"My last post before I left the bank was Area Manager. And although many people envied me as a manager in the bank, I never forgot my dream."
Hence, at only 30 years old, he finally decided to leave his five-figure salary job to begin a farm
In the meantime, he also worked as a real estate agent. He wanted to obtain first-hand information about land for sale and to earn some money in the time being.
"Fortunately my wife, who works as a government school teacher, supported my dream and helped sustain living expenses and loan commitments during that time," he said.
He also enrolled in an agricultural course run by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries to gain knowledge and tried his best to meet people in the industry who were willing to teach him.
Soon said he had to do a lot of studying and research. But even then, he learnt much more when he had to deal with problems such as the weather and pests that threatened to ruin his plants when he first started off.
And now almost eight years later, Soon is finally living his dream
He bought a 2.8ha plot of land in Bakri, Muar and now runs a farm of over 2,000 banana trees, 450 coconut trees, 150 goats, and hundreds of chickens and ducks.
In the free space, he has planted various other fruits and vegetables including chilli, sweet potatoes, jackfruit, cempedak, mangoes, lime, papaya, starfruit, pineapple, guava, and even groundnuts.
He manages the farm with his father and two employed workers, and spends his free time teaching his children about farming.
On top of that, Soon said that he is proud to employ environmentally friendly methods on his farm where they make compost from excess food and animal feed, as well as use animal waste as fertiliser when possible.
"I also let a friend use a small piece of land to set up a greenhouse and plant hydroponic vegetables. I offered them space to plant at my farm without any rental after they faced some financial issues with their own farm," he said.
Staying humble, he hopes to encourage more people to get involved in farming
"I feel happier, healthier, and satisfied with my life now - I can do something I love, spend more time with family, and be closer to nature," he said, adding that he no longer has to participate in unnecessary entertainment and drinking that he associated with the life of a banker.
Instead, he hopes to spread the message of simplicity and farming by inviting school children over and let them just get close to nature.
"I wish to change their mindset whereby farming is not just a low-class occupation," he said.