|Durian sprouts at Sapto’s farm|
We met Sapto Argo at the durian festival. We exchanged numbers, and the night before we had planned to leave Java, he gave us a call and offered to take us on a durian tour of his hometown, Ambarawa.
Ambarawa is a small town set high in the mountains of Central Java. Walking around town, I was constantly in awe of the gorgeous green landscape with sweeping views of rice paddies and volcanoes. I wished we had spent our time waiting for the fruit-tasting competition here, instead of hiding in our hotel from the smog-infused streets of Magelang! We would certainly have enjoyed our time in Java more if we’d discovered Ambarawa weeks ago.
Sapto grows a variety of rare and exotic trees on his small organic farm. He himself is a rare breed among durian orchardists in Java; a gentleman farmer who uses organic pest management practices and refuses to spray chemicals. His specialty is in grafting baby trees to sell to area farmers.
Sapto’s neighbors are more typical, although equally astonishing. One such neighbor is Kusrin, a 70-year-old durian and snakefruit farmer. He doesn’t have a last name, which is fairly typical in Central Java.
Kusrin inherited his land and his 15 durian trees from his wife’s parents, who bought the land in the early 1900’s. He doesn’t know how old his durian trees are, but he says they were already producing durians when his mother was born. Considering that Kusrin was born in 1942, his trees are more than 100 years old! And they’re massive.
At 70 years old, Kusrin bragged that he still climbs his own trees to spray pesticides and tie the fruits on to the branches so they won’t fall. His trees are easily 100 feet tall! Can your Grandpa do that?
Special thanks to Sapto for taking a day to show us the beautiful side of Java, and some of the island’s best durian farms.