On a bright Saturday morning, I found myself standing in the middle of a field. Families strolled about, corralling their children, buzzing with excitement. As jazz music filled my ears, I could smell something creamy in the air.
No, seriously. Was it… carbonara? Or butter? Or just plain old milk?
Hm, it all seemed plausible. I was standing in the middle of The Acre by Farm Fresh, after all.
The Acre is a restaurant set on a farm, created by Malaysia’s very own milk brand, Farm Fresh. Located in Seri Kembangan, it sits on a plot of land owned by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
The partnership between UPM and Farm Fresh dates back to 2020, when the two collaborated to establish an Industry Centre of Excellence.
According to an article by UPM, the university and Farm Fresh intended to develop an Agro Tourism Centre to expose students to the dairy industry while instilling interest in agriculture amongst youth.
That much is obvious, considering the uniform-clad children littered around the compound. In building an educational venue, though, Farm Fresh and UPM have also succeeded in creating a place that appeals to more than just schools.
So much to do, so much to see
An entrance fee to Farm Fresh @ UPM on weekdays is RM10 for adults and RM5 for kids. Since we went on a Saturday, though, we were charged RM15 as adults, while kids would’ve been charged RM10. Kids below 4 are not charged on either occasion.
While the main area with the restaurant and covered walkway is quite contained, getting through the whole compound from end to end would probably take more than ten minutes of walking. In short, you could spend hours upon hours here. Which we did.
Farm Fresh hasn’t prepared any maps for visitors, but there is a laminated one at the entrance. According to this map directory, there are 24 whole spots throughout the space.
The 24 includes areas such as parking, the ticket booth, toilets, and a yet-to-open gift shop, but that’s still a lot of places to cover.
One of the first things I spotted was the pen of rabbits, which isn’t even on the map. These little bunnies that you can pet are apparently the first of many more animals to come.
Continuing down the paths, there is an aviary, a mini aquarium of fighting fish, and of course, the Ladies, AKA the cows.
Before moo-ving on to the cows, though, I actually really enjoyed the aviary and the aquarium. There were some fascinating birds in the aviary including what seemed to be a white peahen and adorable little chickens with feathered feet.
But the stars of the show are still the cows. While I honestly expected perfectly spotted black and white cows like what’s usually on milk cartons, I was not disappointed by the mostly black and brown cows there.
How could I, when there’s just something so endearing about the creatures with their soulful round eyes and low-toned “moo”s that just make you want to moo back (which I, of course, did. It’s only polite).
We also ventured into the space labelled as a worm composting facility, but sadly, we did not find any worms. Or people, actually. We’re not too sure whether the space is open yet.
There’s a horse-riding area for kids, but it costs extra as it’s operated by a third party. What is included in the entrance fee, though, are the tractor rides.
While I was told the wait time for the tractor rides is around 45 minutes, we were really only under the scorching Malaysian sun for… around 30 minutes, give or take.
There were two tractors in service, and each ride took around 20 minutes. There was quite a tight fit on the tractor, but I was distracted from any discomfort thanks to our hilarious tour guide.
Amidst her humorous quips about how sweaty we were, she shared information about the compound, pointing out the fish farms as well as banana and sugarcane plantations.
She also talked about how the staff members stay at the compound, often having to be on alert in case the cows get into a brawl.
Quality over quantity
Through the flower tunnels, past the vegetable farm and flower nursery, and beyond the enclosed section full of animals from bunnies to fowl to even deer, we finally rounded back to The Acre.
The menu here isn’t extensive—just three types of pasta and three types of pizzas. The three pasta dishes are the Aglio Olio Gambas, Al Funghi Orecchiettei, and the Vongole.
Meanwhile, the pizza includes Food Coma (a beef-filled pizza), Mushroom Jack, and a classic Margherita. The drinks menu has a variety of coffees and teas along with some more unique offerings such as Fruit Punch, Dazzling Yam, Creamy Corn, Butterscotch Banana and more.
Thirsty from our walk, we quickly ordered some drinks and the Mushroom Jack pizza to share.
Although you have to order at the counter, there is table service for the food. My iced latte was nice and creamy, as expected from Farm Fresh, but I was most surprised by the presentation of the pizza.
Looking hand-tossed and fresh out of the oven, the pizza is topped with grated parmesan, arugula, and a mix of wild mushrooms. According to the menu, the pizza also features truffle oil, though I couldn’t really taste it.
The dish was rather salty, but I liked the fresh taste of the mushrooms and the slightly bitter tang from the arugula. I usually prefer thick, soft, and airy dough, and while The Acre’s dough was a bit thinner and denser, it was still decent.
At RM43, I’d say this pizza is slightly on the pricier side, but knowing that it’s made with fresh ingredients arguably makes it worth the price.
A space for market validation
After lunch, I went for another round of drinks at Jom Cha by Farm Fresh. I’ve never seen Jom Cha around before, but according to Berita Harian, Farm Fresh plans on launching Jom Cha by Farm Fresh in September with 20 to 30 kiosks nationwide.
As I enjoyed my refreshing oolong peach tea (around RM5), we strolled over to Fresh Picks, a fresh produce store, and Cream Hauz, an ice cream parlour.
Fresh Picks, quite literally, had an assortment of fresh picks, including produce such as cucumbers, papayas, and fresh milk in glass bottles. There’s also “milk on tap” here, but I didn’t dare touch it as it seemed like a staff-only thing. Other Farm Fresh products can also be found here.
Next to Fresh Picks is Cream Hauz, which sells ice cream made fresh from Farm Fresh milk. There are two flavours available: milk and yoghurt.
Both were incredibly delicious, especially on a hot, sunny afternoon. The milk was fresh and creamy, underlined by a mild sweetness. I was also impressed by the yoghurt flavour. Unlike typical frozen yoghurt, this one tasted thicker and had just the right amount of tartness to it.
Considering both Fresh Picks and Cream Hauz are also brands by Farm Fresh that can only be found in the UPM compound currently, I wonder if the company plans to launch these two brands outside of its farm too.
If that’s the case, perhaps Farm Fresh @ UPM acts as a kind of testing ground for the company before they made those brands public.
Still room for improvement
For now, The Acre has only just soft-launched, which means there might be a grand opening someday.
Before then, though, I feel like there are still a few things The Acre could amend, such as having more covered walkways for those who are sensitive to the heat, especially when waiting for the tractor ride.
An additional activity could be picnic options on the open field, considering there’s so much open space.
I also think visitors should be given a map and that more information could be provided about the animals and crops, but perhaps that will come in time.
With all those little things aside, though, I found my time at the farm to be extremely pleasant. Even though it was ridiculously hot, the blue skies overhead and green pastures everywhere really lifted my spirits.
While Farm Fresh @ UPM seems catered for families, anyone could visit the space and have a good time. Just remember to apply some sunscreen and bring an umbrella or cap if you’re not trying to get sunburnt.
Establishing the Farm Fresh ethos
Having written about Farm Fresh and its founder’s rise to the top, I’m not particularly surprised that it has decided to diversify from just milk and instead is also looking into offering experiences such as these.
Still, I am wonderfully surprised by the quality of the experience and how well the company executed the farm tour concept, despite a few shortcomings.
I felt that Farm Fresh @ UPM strengthens Farm Fresh’s image, quite literally expanding on the idea of “farm” and “fresh”. The Acre, Jom Cha, Cream Hauz, and Fresh Picks are smart moves to optimise the brand’s core offerings.
Knowing that Farm Fresh founder Loi Tuan Ee had grown up surrounded by agriculture, Farm Fresh @ UPM seems like it could be a personal passion project—on top of a business-savvy venture, of course.