So often we find ourselves confined in the comfort of the city that we forget the simpler life outside it; where trees grow tall, where farmers grow food staples, where livestock are raised – the kind of bucolic surroundings that not only offer a change of scene and pace, but also wholesomeness that ground us back to nature. Jakarta may not possess such scenes, but there are places on the outskirts that offer a taste of it.
This is what the notable Javara brand brings forth with their third branch, Javara Culture Garden Store. Set within the residential and mixed-use development of Vida Bekasi, the new outlet—led by founder Helianti Hilman—boasts not only a treasure trove of local and artisanal food products but also a three-hectare farm where some 200 plants are harvested, endowed with stories and values of Indonesian food biodiversity heritage, as well as the dedicated people behind it.
Upon arriving, guests will probably be wondering why there’s no sight of a farmscape anywhere; any semblance of it are the few garden beds at the rear of Javara’s store. But go from there into the hidden alleyway, and you’ll find your way to the sprawling farm that captivates under a bright blue sky, which they share with a longtime collaborator, Seniman Pangan, a school for young Indonesian farmers.
At this abundant and growing land, you get to explore the three-hectare farm where spices and food staples are grown organically in sectioned plots, baby greens being nurtured in a nursery, with some of the day’s harvest being dried in their solar dome before taken into the store’s kitchen. Not to mention their chicken and fish farm, where guests can go fishing and have their catch prepped and cooked for a meal at the store. Once or twice, you’ll probably notice a few farmers taking shelter under the beautiful canopies of The Learning Tree—also known as the Rain Tree—as they take a break from the day’s toils and heat.
After touring the ground, you can cool off at the main store where the fruits of the farmer’s labour have (quite literally) materialised. Jars of spices, herbs and organic seasonings, from the rich variety of Andaliman lemon peppers to turmeric powders, are stacked for your pick. Perhaps during this spree, one is lucky enough to realise the humbling journey of our kitchen staples and the people who grow and cultivate them.
Beyond a shop, Javara Culture Garden Store fits more as a learning space where you can experience the farm-to-store experience in a single trip, a kind of partaking that needs one’s appreciation and eagerness to explore, to make the long drive worthwhile. But of course, the biggest takeaway of the trip should be learning about Javara’s journey in preserving Indonesian agriculture and its rich food biodiversity—an endeavour that strikes a deeper meaning when many of us are already swayed by the fast-paced routine in the metropole.
Javara Culture Garden Store
Jalan Alun-Alun Utara No 165, Bumipala, Vida Bekasi 17156
Operation hours: Every day – 8am to 6pm – (Tour by appointment only)