Three weeks ago, we decided to pull together a sustainable hamper in anticipation for the upcoming Raya season. Drawing inspiration from the gastronomy week, we partnered up with Ecoponies to discover crafts made by local artisans.
Through the event, we got to know of Ain from the Melilas Community who weaves beautiful baskets. We explained to her our concept, she understood it straight away and on her trip back to kampung, she sourced the materials from the jungle to make the quantity we were after.
Our first stop was to Hj Sisa's <I> kebun <//I>. He was patiently waiting by the hut with his wife and welcomed us with a bit of story as to why he started his business and how he has been carving for a number of years. We handpicked the coconut bowls and had a nice chat about culture and heritage.
Second stop was to Sikat's home. She happens to be a relative of Eyon from Ecoponies, and so we sat in 77 year old Sikat's living room and explained to her our intent of the Ta-bu-oh (ketupats synonymous to Dusun culture). Sikat went to her room to grab a few stalks of coconut tree leaves, used the safety pin attached on her t-shirt to iron out the creases and within minutes, completed making ketupat manok (hen and rooster) used for the Dusin ritual ceremony called Temarok. The ta-bu-oh in the hamper is made from nipah's leaf, these typically come in a pair (a male and female).
Third stop was to Tasbee to source <I> madu kelulut </I>. The setting of his bee farm was so serene, with stingless bees around us busy at work.
We knew we also wanted coffee and tea featured in the gift. Labi coffee is not new to the local scene; the tea came from Fatimah from eco ponies, these were hand plucked and sun dried in the jungles of Tutong. <I> Sambah bangangan </I> is known to have healing properties amongst the kampung folks. When brewed, some say it tastes like Chinese tea, others have likened it to rooibos. The tea is typically consumed after a long day of hard work to replenish energy levels. For the hamper, we added <I> Bunga telang </I>butterfly pea to the tea mixture for a bit of color and texture.
The rosella jam was hand made by Siti Kaprawi, known in the local food scene for her recipe book which incorporates flowers in cooking. We first came across Siti during our visit to eco ponies, where she served us fresh pear pie. We knew right there and then that she was someone we would collaborate with in the future.
What connects all the items in the gift are : heart and labour.
It's an appreciation of all the hard work that goes into creating crafts, sourcing tea, nurturing bees, growing rice and coffee. These are not mass produced for a reason - it takes what nature gives us when it wants to. Through this gift, we are encouraging a lifestyle of living sustainably, remembering our roots and appreciating our culture.