Mardi, 35, and his wife Sutiyem, 28, from Banjarnegara regency, Central Java province, arrived four years ago on Batam in search of work in the special industrial zone island.
They were not seeking jobs in electronic goods assembling plants as many other Javanese do, but to grow vegetables for household consumption.
Mardi knew beforehand that the land in Batam was not so good for farming, but he still wanted to give it a go because he had seen that his fellow farmers from Banjarnegara had been successful on Batam and he wished to follow suit.
Shortly after arriving, he bought a half hectare plot of land -- from a local resident who did not have an ownership certificate -- for Rp 2 million (just over US$200 at the time). The plot is located in Tanjung Riau subdistrict, Sekupang district, where he has grown various kinds of vegetables with his wife for nearly four years.
""My main reason here was to farm. I knew about it from my hometown friends who came here earlier. After I developed the skills to farm and market the crops, I moved the rest of my family here,"" Mardi told The Jakarta Post.
He uses an intercrop method -- growing a row of vegetables alternating with a row of cayenne pepper or long beans overlapping with gambas, a kind of tuber.
He uses water from a pond not far from his farm for watering his crops. The pond, equipped with a water pump, is used by several other farmers as well.
""Nearly all farmers in the Simpang Base Camp area -- around 100 of them -- come from Banjarnegara. We all know each other,"" Mardi said.
The quality of soil is not favorable, with a high bauxite level, often hard and brownish in color. He has to mix in copious quantities of manure and loamy soil for his vegetables to grow.
""We continually use fertilizer on the crops for better harvests,"" he said.
Every day his routine varies because each crop has to be harvested in a staggered process. Long beans take about three weeks to harvest. He has planned it in such a way that he can reap the beans once every three days.
He uses about a fourth of a 130 kg sack of fertilizer, which costs Rp 115,000, in each three-week period, while a kilogram of long beans sells for Rp 2,500. He can yield 50 kg of long beans in a single harvest period. ""Vegetable sellers from the traditional market buy directly from us to get the best price and the freshest beans,"" Mardi said.
The price of vegetables on Batam is three times higher compared to other areas in Sumatra, so it attracts people like him to farming on Batam.
Mardi leaves marketing matters to Sutiyem, who does most of the harvesting as well as weighing and packaging the vegetables. From their thriving little farming enterprise, Mardi and Sutiyem were able to buy a simple house in their hometown as well as pay the school fees to send their two children to elementary school.
When asked if he was worried about a lack of an ownership certificate for his farm, he said that he would just leave it to fate if a time came when the authorities, such as the Batam Authority Board or the Batam municipality, decided they wanted to reclaim it.