Despite being a practising lawyer, Luo Jiyan's greatest pleasure lies in the two hours he spends each morning tending to his vegetables and other plants. He not only treats this activity as a form of recreational exercise, but has also learned from it the way to live a healthy lifestyle. It is also a means for him to embrace the principle of eco-friendliness.
He feels that planting vegetables and flowers around his residence not only provides him with cool shade and fresh air, but also helps green the environment.
Luo has previously held the posts of President of Batu Pahat Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of Bandar Penggaram Associated Chinese Schools, President of Kwangtung Association and President of Hainan Association. He currently holds, among others, the posts of honorary president and legal advisor in a number of societies.
Waking up at seven: A strictly observed daily ritual
68-year-old Luo insists on getting up at seven o' clock each morning and then spending around two hours tending to his vegetables, fruits and flowers. Be it watering or planting, Luo does all the work personally, working up a sweat before taking a rest and shower and going to work.
Luo currently grows fifteen different kinds of vegetables, including Kai-lan, Chinese cabbage, beans, okra, brinjal (also known as eggplant), white radish, cucumber, bayam, garlic chive, sweet potato, etc.
As the size of land available for planting is limited, he plants on a rotational basis, choosing ten types of vegetables to be grown during each rotation. This also adds some constant variety to his experience.
In addition, he also grows 12 kinds of fruit including longan, mango, peach, ciku, chestnut, grape, avocado, jackfruit, roselle, etc. He only plants one or two of each type so that he can enjoy a variety of fresh fruits.
The word 'retirement' not in his dictionary
For the past ten years, Luo has persisted in treating his farming activities as a form of exercise. To this day, his body remains fit and his mind sharp. He even says there's no such word as "retirement" in his dictionary.
Luo said ever since he started doing regular exercises at a set time each day, his mental and physical strength has improved. Not to mention the fact that watching the vegetables, plants and trees he planted grow strong and productive gives him a sense of accomplishment.
"Since my secondary school years, I've planted beans and groundnut as well as raised cows and goats. I enjoy watching the plants grow and sprout. This process of nurturing life leaves me feeling very satisfied."
He emphasised that growing vegetables and fruits is no simple matter, so he has always constantly sought new knowledge on agricultural techniques. It is also necessary to purchase seeds, fertilisers and suitable soil to ensure that the vegetables and fruits grow healthily.
Four home-grown vegetables in daily diet
Luo said he likes to grow vegetables which his family likes to eat so that the entire family can enjoy them together. As a result, his children and grandchildren are becoming increasingly fond of vegetables, especially bayam, okra and beans, which he said is also a welcome change.
Luo currently eats four different kinds of home-grown vegetables every day, which makes for a healthier daily diet. However, vegetables which he cannot grow himself, such as tomato and onion, have to be purchased.
Ever since he started growing vegetables at home, Luo has been giving away his harvest as gifts to friends and relatives, who are all full of praise after tasting them.
A reader of Sin Chew Daily since young
Luo started reading Sin Chew Daily when he was in primary school, and was particularly fond of the section on medicine, from where he could learn more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He subscribes to the principle of "prevention is better than cure," and believes that growing his own vegetables is the healthiest approach.
"I use chicken manure and organic fertilisers for my vegetables. I water them each day and never use pesticides on them. Therefore, the vegetables are sweeter, softer and tastier."
He said his two Indonesian maids would help him with hoeing and watering while his wife would tend to the fruit trees and flowers.
It is only with their help that Luo's vegetable and fruit garden can be kept in such a good order. (Translated by ALEX YUEN/Sin Chew Daily)