Strawberry Picking on holiday in the Cape
Little screams summer quite like the sweet scent and ripe taste of fresh, plump strawberries (especially when mixed in salads or combined with velvety vanilla ice cream). Needless to say then, there are few better ways to make the most of the season’s balmy days and clear open skies than with a family-friendly session of strawberry picking in Stellenbosch and its scenic surrounds.
From October to the end of December each year, when these scarlet fruit are at their fullest and ripest, several strawberry farms open up their bursting fields to the public, inviting locals and visitors alike to come equipped with baskets and boxes and pluck their own produce.
Aside from being one of the Mother City’s most enjoyable full-day outdoor activities, a fun thing to do with the kids on weekends, and a fine way to soak up the breath-taking, vineyard-lined surroundings, this seasonal pastime also affords pickers the opportunity to have direct contact with the origin of their fare. And in a society where the standard is purchasing mysteriously sourced fruits and veg off supermarket shelves, it’s a rare delight to be able to connect with where our food comes from and how it is grown (not to mention, as they’ve been tampered with less, hand-plucked berries are generally considered to be far healthier than those bought from stores).
What’s more, an hour’s worth of ‘work’ spent harvesting these little red treats simply makes their full-bodied flavor that much more delicious afterwards. And, fortunately, for those who don’t have the discipline to wait until home to dig in, the pick-your-own estates often boast rolling lawns apt for picnicking on, so the fruits of your labour can be enjoyed immediately.
Farms general advise to phone before popping in to check that fields haven’t yet been plucked dry and to bring along some sunscreen and a good dose of enthusiasm. As for the strawberry picking process, few constraints apply; visitors are simply encouraged to select the fullest, firmest, reddest berries in the field, pluck them gently (to avoid bruising) and package them safely – following this, all that’s left to do is to sit back, relax and relish that characteristic sweet, succulent taste of summer.
Polkadraai Strawberry Farm
Famous for its friendly scarecrows, sweet strawberries and homemade jam, this Stellenbosch Winelands wonder is a great treat for the kids. Once an entry fee is paid, visitors choose the size of containers that work best for their berry appetite: R25 for a strawberry helping of about 800g, R45 for 1.3kg, R120 for 4.5kg or choose the Ultimate Picker option for R170, which is about 6.5kg of plump, ripe strawberries and pickers can dwell in the pastures as long as they like. Not to mention, there are plenty of activities to keep the kids busy while the adults enjoy a delicious glass of wine from the cellar.
Opening Times: 9am – 4pm daily (strawberry picking only from October to December)
NOTE: Closed on Christmas – M12 | Stellenbosch Arterial Road | Between Stellenbosch and Kuilsriver | +27 (0) 21 881 3303
Mooiberge Strawberry Farm
Nestled among the region’s stunning regiments of vineyards, Mooiberge is the perfect place for a day-spent strawberry picking and drinking in the excellent views. Over the course of its lengthy history (it dates back to the early 1900s), the farm has developed something of a reputation for cultivating some of the country’s finest strawberries, and every weekend, from early October until the end of December (and every day during the December school holidays), the landmark venue invites eager amateur reapers to spend time in their fields and pick their own bountiful basket of these tasty fruits. Once your box is filled up with luscious strawberries, have it weighted by one of the very helpful assistants. For those eager to linger a little longer and return home with more than just lush berries, the much-loved on-site Mooiberge Farm Stall stocks everything from nuts and dried fruits to tasty sweet treats, and makes for particularly enjoyable shopping.
Opening Hours: Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays: 9:30am – 4:30pm (Strawberry picking only from October to December); open daily during December school holidays.
Strand Road | R44 | Stellenbosch | +27 (0) 21 881 3222
Mountain Breeze Farm Stall & Resort
Situated away from the city noise amidst the lush, green forests of Stellenbosch, Mountain Breeze offers a lovely, relaxing getaway for the whole family. After collecting a container from the farm stall, explore the fields of fragrant strawberries and marvel at the breathtaking landscapes. The stall, which is open daily charges per kilogram, however, the exact price per kilogram for the 2015 season has not yet been determined. And if you’re not quite ready to pack up and leave after a day of berry bashing, spend the night relaxing in a fully equipped self-catering holiday house, chalet, en-suite or on a large shady campsite.
Opening Hours: 9am – 4:30pm daily (Strawberry picking only from October to December)
R44 | Between Stellenbosch and Somerset West | Stellenbosch | +27 (0) 880 1700
Growing strawberries since early 1960s, the Helderberg Farm claims a traditional South African charm as well as a friendly atmosphere. The family orientated spot is well known for its strawberries and is an excellent venue to take the whole clan to and enjoy a day outdoors picking the deliciously sweet fruity treats. Strawberry picking usually commences from October, but it is advised to call the farm before popping in.
NOTE: Group bookings are welcome.
Opening Hours: 8am – 6pm daily
Klein Helderbergpad Road | Stellenbosch | +27 (0) 21 855 4308
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