Hortimart Agro Center is designed for tourists, there’s no doubt about it. But local tourists, not foreigners. I’m not sure anyone has written about the farm in English before. This might be the first. You’re welcome.
Because if you’re a durian tourist visiting Central Java, you’ll want to add Hortimart to your hit list. There’s some interesting stuff there, even if it does feel like a bit like a fruity kiddy park. There are a lot of durian varieties you’ll have never heard of, and maybe one that you have — Durio kutejensis, a wild durian from Borneo.
About Hortimart Agro Center
Hortimart Agro Center is located on a busy and slow-moving highway in Northern Central Java, the main artery that connecting Semarang to Yogyakarta. When you turn into the driveway, you’ll notice all the orange trucks carting around tourists. You might have trouble finding a parking place, or navigating through the swarms of people unloading from said orange trucks.
But you will probably be the only Western visitors. It’s that kind of tourist place.
It’s also fairly new.
When I visited Hortimart in 2012, it was just months away from opening to the public. The large building with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, where they now sell all kinds of fruits grown on the farm, was closed.
The farmer who brought me there wanted to show off Indonesia’s Durian Of The Future, what he thought all durian farms would or should someday look like in Indonesia. As of right now, most Indonesian durian farms consist of the two trees in an untended backyard.
So when Mr. Budi Dharmawan replanted a 27-hectare cocoa and coffee farm with durians, he was doing something pretty different and striking. And that was back in 1974.
And he didn’t just plant Monthong. He planted 90 local varieties of durian, most of which I’d never heard of.
When we visited in December, 2017, we even found these weird durian varieties being sold frozen, so I guess you could find them all year long.
I zeroed in on the gift shop first, because I wasn’t really keen to take the orange truck ride if there wasn’t something interesting to see. At this point, I’ve been to enough touristy agro-parks with truck rides where the guide identifies oranges and pineapples and then stops for everyone to have a selfie-shoot with a jackfruit.
I wanted to know that Hortimart had something worth my time as a dedicated Durian Hunter and not someone who’s just bored on a Sunday afternoon.
I was gratified to discover a lot of types of durian. Some, like Matahari, are official registered varieties with the department of Agricultural, but a lot are local specialties, like Durian Janoko, or Semar, or Pinipin, Bismo, and more.
The farm also has 15 varieties of local mangoes, as well as dragonfruits, rambutan, tangerines, longkongs, longans, guavas, white mangoes, hog plums, and other oddities like my personal fav, matoa, also known as Fijian Longan (pictured above).
We decided to start by buying our durian breakfast in the gift shop, which I was also surprised to find accepts credit card.
Maybe it’s because their durians are pretty expensive, so it’s easy to run out of cash. Our smorgasbord for the morning ran us more than 400,000 IDR.
The Other Durian
We started by examining the many durians with unfamiliar names on the table.
Each wore a little bib with its name, weight, and the date it dropped printed clearly on the label. Some had been collected days earlier, but we found a few fresh ones and decided to give them a try.
But because of the price, (75,000 IDR per kilogram, or 22 MYR, or $5.5 USD), we decide to go for only two.
Durian Bismo (2.6 kg)
We started with Durian Bismo, which I recognized from this study about high quality durians in Indonesia.
It had pale off yellow flesh and looked pretty decent when we opened it up. But it tasted like a very mild Monthong.
Not my jam. So, after asking the friendly Hortimart Staff to suggest a stronger tasting durian, we moved on to Durian #2.
Durian Ponconoko (2 kg)
Durian Ponconoko was more disappointing. It was already beginning to crack when we opened it, and it’s little bib said it had dropped the day before.
I really have nothing positive to say about Durian Ponconoko. So moving on.
The delight of the day and the reason your durian hunting journey should take you past Hortimart is this:
Lay – Durio Kutejensis
What a weird looking durian!! I thought.
When I first saw this elongated and skinny durian with long yellow spikes, I couldn’t decide what it was. It’s label read “Lay,” a word commonly used in Borneo for about 3 different species of wild durian. So the label was of no help.
If you’ve been reading this blog or following me on Instagram, you’ll know that Durio kutejensis is usually yellow, not brown.
It usually has small, nubbyish little spikes.
It’s usually kind of rounded in shape, not so pointy.
This durian was a mystery. I needed to buy it and see what it looked like inside.
And yup, it was a Durio kutejensis, but the weirdest looking Durio kutejensis I’ve ever seen.
Despite the oddity of it’s shape and thorns, when we opened it up we saw the bright orange, waxy, dry and fruity flesh like normal.
The others in my group had never tasted it’s bubblegummy, densely sweet and banana-bready flesh before. It was excitement all around.
I wanted to see the tree where these weird things came from. So we piled into one of the orange trucks and joined the local tourists for a lap of the farm.
With just one special request.
Instead of getting selfies with the jackfruit, could we get selfies with the Durian Lay?
Of course! The tour guide was more than happy to let us off for a wander around the Durian Lay orchard. There were three trees, all covered in fruits. You can see where the dried flower is still stuck onto the top of the durian, around the stem, which is a hallmark feature of Durio kutejensis.
We were lucky that the trees were flowering at the same time!
Durio kutejensis has a beautiful deep pink flower. Seeing the flower, plus the fruits on the tree, satisfied me that we were actually looking at the right species, even if it’s a weird variety.
Mr. Budi Dharmawan, Hortimart’s owner, got the trees in Kalimantan.
How To Get To Hortimart Agro Center
Hortimart Agro Center is located in Bawen, Central Java, on Highway 14 connecting Semarang and Ambarawa. It’s only 15 minutes north of Ambarawa but an hour south of Semarang, depending on traffic, which tends to be bad.
Hortimart is open 8AM to 4:30PM every day, but it’s best to avoid weekends as it is a popular destination for local tourist groups. It costs 100,000 IDR ($7.40 USD) per car to tour the facilities. If you’re hardcore into durian, an hour is enough time to pop into a car, go see the Durian Lay, and then eat yourself silly on this tasty little wild Durio, conveniently located in Java.