Sweet juicy red strawberries…. I don’t need to use any more fancy words to get your mouth watering. Actually, you just need to have a look at the pictures in this post and not read anything at all.
It’s always great to get an exclusive behind the scenes look at something and in this case it was a tour around the Mooihoek Boerdery strawberry farm. Mooihoek is situated next to the Gamtoos River outside the town of Hankey in the Eastern Cape. Back in 1998, farmers wife Madelé Ferreira planted 5 000 strawberry plants in her ailing rose garden. This has grown and developed to a farm with over 500 000 plants and employing 90 workers that supplies strawberries to chain stores like Spar, Pick ‘n Pay and Shoprite / Checkers. In 2012 Madelé was also named the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year: Job Creator of the Year, a huge achievement for this Gamtoos Valley farmer although she was very modest about it when I asked her.
We were met by Madelé as we arrived at the farm and taken on a tour around the fields. Workers were busy picking strawberries and packaging them right there in the field to be shipped to a supermarket. The first thing I wanted to know was if I could try a strawberry straight off the field and as no harmful pesticides are used I could do it. “Just make sure you pick one on the shade side of the plant,” was Madelé’s advice. You don’t want to eat a warm strawberry.
After our walk through the fields we had a peek in the cold storeroom before heading to Madelé’s boardroom where a jug of 100% strawberry juice and a some cut and chilled strawberries waited for us. This is going to spoil dinner, but who cares. I asked Madelé if they are open to the public to come and pick strawberries. Unfortunately at this stage they aren’t. They produce strawberries all year around which means that they are always busy preparing and harvesting fields and until now there just hasn’t been time to set up part of the farm for the public to visit. Not yet. So perhaps some time soon the Port Elizabeth folks would be able to go and pick their own strawberries less than an hour from home, just like you can do around George and Stellenbosch. Ok, so where can I go and get some strawberries to satisfy this watering mouth of mine now?