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 position 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
He enrolled in an agricultural course ran by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries and also tried his best to meet people in the industry who were willing to teach him.
He worked as a real estate agent in the meantime, trying to obtain first-hand information about land for sale and earn some money while he learned about farming.
"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.
Soon said he had to do a lot of studying and research. But even then, he was forced to learn the hard way and had to deal with problems such as bad weather and pests that ruined his plants when he first started off with a small plot of land.
Today, almost eight years of hard work and determination later, Soon said he is finally living his dream
The 38-year-old now owns a 2.8ha plot of land in Bakri, Muar and runs a farm of over 2,000 banana trees, 450 coconut trees, and many farm animals, including 150 goats and hundreds of chickens and ducks.
Around the farm, he has planted various other fruits and vegetables including chilli, sweet potatoes, jackfruit, cempedak, mangoes, lime, papaya, starfruit, pineapple, guava, and even groundnuts.
He said that he manages the land with his father and two employed workers, and spends his free time teaching his children about farming too.
"I feel happier, healthier, and more satisfied with my life now - I can do something I love, spend more time with family, and be closer to nature," he told SAYS, adding that he no longer has to participate in unnecessary entertainment and drinking that he associated with his old life as a banker.
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 whenever possible.
"I also let a friend use a small piece of land to set up a greenhouse and plant hydroponic vegetables there. I offered them the space to plant without rental because they were facing some financial issues with their own farm," he said.
Staying humble, Soon said he hopes to encourage more people, especially the younger generation, to get involved in farming
"I wish to change the mindset where people think that farming is just a low-class occupation," he said.
He now spreads his love and knowledge by organising farm tours to allow school children an opportunity to enjoy the farm and get close to nature.